10 Wrestling Angles That Started Hot & Ended Flat

February 04, 2015 By: Category: lists, WWE | Pro Wrestling

The intrigue of how a hot pro wrestling angle ends is more exciting than the matches for most of us. Yet you don’t have to go back further than Dean Ambrose vs. Seth Rollins for examples of pro wrestling angles that started off as hot and ended flatter than a pancake. It doesn’t get much disappointing than that.

It is important to keep in mind that more times than not, pro wrestling bookers tend to over-think these things and get all caught up in trying to fool fans as opposed to doing what is best for business. Even when it seems so easy, they routinely miss the mark. Remember how great the Summer of Punk started and how badly it ended?

So off the top of my head here are ten pro wrestling angles that I thought started out hot and ended flat, disappointing wrestling fans. These aren’t in any particular order of importance. These angles are moments I remember watching live thinking how great they were that failed to live up to expectations for a variety of reasons, generally the fault of the bookers or writers.

The WCW Invasion, 2001 – We have been down this road many times. WCW invading the WWE after the sale in 2001 should have been the biggest angle in pro wrestling history. Instead, most point to this angle as the biggest booking blunder of the 21st century for Team McMahon.

Let’s face it. This one doesn’t take a whole lot of rocket science to book. Yet Vince McMahon got cute and due to ego and bad business, never gave this angle the tools it needed to succeed. Instead of picking up the big WCW stars, the WCW invasion was originally led by Shane McMahon, Booker T, and Buff Bagwell. You can figure out how this thing ended without even reading on.

All of the WWE vs. WCW matches ended with the WWE crew coming out on top with none of the WCW originals looking strong. The underlying theme here was obvious. WWE is and always was better than WCW. That is how this thing started and that is how it ended.

The irony here is that Vince McMahon later signed the bigger WCW superstars like Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Bill Goldberg, and Scott Steiner. Unfortunately those signings came after the invasion, thus costing the company millions of dollars and some potentially historic moments of pro wrestling fans.

Lita, Matt Hardy, and Jeff Hardy defeat Triple H, Steve Austin, & Stephanie McMahon on RAW, 2001 – Do you remember the night that the Hardy brothers and Lita defeated Austin, Triple H, and Stephanie on RAW? You probably don’t, but if you did you remember one of the most exciting moments in RAW history at the time of the match.

The Hardy brothers and Lita had become a hit around this time with the younger WWE audience. It was time to bump the trio up from their feud with Edge, Christian, and Kurt Angle to the Two Man Power Trip. This match resulted out of a brief meeting earlier in the show between Lita and Linda where Lita showed her support for Linda in the middle of a “divorce” with Vince. The punishment, a match with the WWE champion Stone Cold Steve Austin, the WWE intercontinental champion Triple H, and Stephanie.

The match was exciting, full of action, and told a fantastic story of the underdogs finally getting their opportunity. The match ended with Lita pinning Stephanie. Austin and Hunter obliterated the Hardy boys and even Lita in an absolutely tremendous RAW moment. It appeared that the Hardy brothers were in full feud mode now with the McMahon alliance.

Sadly that feud lasted all of about a week. Jeff Hardy defeated Triple H on the next edition of SmackDown to win the intercontinental title, only to drop it back to Hunter four days later on RAW. The Hardys and Lita had one more match against the pair as part of an eight-man tag team match but fell out of the main-event picture in the blink of an eye.

This had the potential to be a really exciting feud that never went anywhere when all was said and done.

Nexus Forms, 2010 – Up until CM Punk’s promo on RAW Roulette, this was the most memorable moment of the decade in the WWE. The night without warning that several WWE rookies jumped John Cena and CM Punk in what many described as an “n.W.o. moment.” Unfortunately that great moment never materialized the way most fans had hoped that it would.

Daniel Bryan was immediately fired from the company which took the best worker of Nexus out of the mix. So for the next several weeks Wade Barrett carried the crew with some of the best promos of the year in the WWE. Nexus destroyed everyone in their paths for about a month including several WWE legends. It appeared that nobody was stopping Nexus.

Sadly, everyone stopped Nexus. The first big WWE vs. Nexus match took place at SummerSlam 2010. This was the turning point for the angle because from here on out, Nexus were never able to regain the momentum they had when they jumped Punk and Cena back in June. Cena standing tall as sole survivor of the match completely brought this angle to a screeching halt.

Yes I know, Wade Barrett defeated John Cena at Hell in a Cell and got him in Nexus. However, Barrett and Nexus were made to look like fools and Cena never took the stips or the loss seriously. One year later Barrett is far removed from where you would have expected him to be at this point and most of Nexus are just bouncing around. I hate to say it but I have little faith that the same guys that dropped the ball on Nexus will be writing the CM Punk-Money in the Bank storyline at Money in the Bank.

Tazz debuts in the WWE, 2001 – Taz as he was known in Extreme Championship Wrestling was the franchise player of the company in 2000. That is why many were surprised, yet excited when they heard Taz (now Tazz) had signed with the WWE.

Tazz came into the company with a ton of promotion. He had several articles written about him on the website and a ton of vignettes before his debut. Tazz debuted at the Royal Rumble in New York as Kurt Angle’s mystery opponent. Tazz ended the winning streak of Kurt Angle to a huge reaction in just slightly over three minutes of dominance.

You would have expected big things for Tazz after debuting with such fanfare in the WWE. Unfortunately that never happened. Chalk it up to politics, but the Tazz was never fully followed through. The writing was on the wall when Tazz as ECW champion lost to Triple H on SmackDown for no apparent reason other than spite. From there, Tazz wound up in the intercontinental title mix and was one of only a few not to get a run with the belt during that time period. Tazz would wind up disappearing due to injury and returning months later.

Unfortunately the WWE never pushed Tazz as hard as they did before he arrived as they did when he showed up in the WWE disappointing a lot of fans who hoped to see Tazz suplex and choke his way to the WWE main-event picture.

The Radicalz invade the WWE, 2000 – If you read the wrestling newsletters or called hotlines back in 1999 and 2000 you knew what was coming. After years of being held down by politics and petty booking in WCW, Chris Benoit, Dean Malenko, and Eddie Guerrero (along with Perry Saturn) were going to get their shots in the WWE.

It all started off fantastic. All four guys appeared at ringside without warning on the January 31, 2000 edition of WWE RAW is War. The fans went crazy and immediately recognized the men and the N.W.O. moment that the WWE injected back into the Monday Night Wars. The Radicalz as they were called were “invited” guests of Mick Foley.

The Radicalz made their presence known by the end of the night. A cheap shot by the Road Dog resulted in the Radicalz jumping the guard rail and beating down the New Age Outlaws. They were instant stars in the WWE, something they had to work for in WCW over the course of a few years. Unfortunately the parade would soon come to an end.

A few days later Benoit, Guerrero, Malenko, and Saturn were offered a chance to “win contracts” if they could win three matches on SmackDown against Degeneration-X members; Triple H, X Pac, and the Outlaws. Can you guess what happened next? The Radicalz lost all three matches, including Triple H pinning Benoit who left WCW as the world champion. The air was taken out of the balloon in less than a week.

Benoit and Guerrero eventually fought their way to the top but Saturn and Malenko struggled. It took the WWE months to ruin the Nexus angle in 2010. It only took them a few days to ruin the Radicalz angle in 2000.

ECW invades the WWE, 1996 – Yes before ECW One Night Stand there was WWF Mind Games in Philadelphia, PA. The WWF was struggling to find its way while ECW became something of an underground sensation with a teenage market that the WWF couldn’t reach. In order to reach that market, the WWF partnered with ECW, giving ECW an opportunity to expose its product to a national audience. And oh yeah, WCW was kicking the WWF’s behind at this time with the start of the n.W.o. angle.

It all started in ECW when threats were issued towards the WWF for coming into ECW’s home base, Philadelphia, PA with Mind Games. A few weeks later ECW (& future WWE) stars the Sandman, Tommy Dreamer, Taz, and Paul Heyman were in the front row of the Mind Games pay per view to enjoy the show and cause a little trouble.

It didn’t take long for the fans to notice and “ECW” chants quickly broke out live in pay per view. In the pay per view opener, Savio Vega wound up outside the ring in front of the ECW crew. Sandman threw beer on Vega and a pull-apart erupted between all parties at ringside. Vince McMahon on the announce team dismissed the ECW crew as a “local, up and coming promotion.”

This should have been the start of something great. The WWF had their own invasion angle right in front of them but nothing of real relevance materialized. The ECW crew were given matches on one episode of RAW and appeared from time to time to cause trouble but that was it. A memorable debate between Jerry Lawler and Paul Heyman that resulted in nothing else is about the only real highlight here.

Ironically it was ECW that really capitalized off of this angle. ECW booked Jerry Lawler and Lawler immediately became one of the biggest heels in the company. Yet Vince McMahon and the WWE never pulled the trigger on an all-out invasion between companies. In retrospect it is interesting to think what could have happened if he did.

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The Ultimate Warrior confronts Hulk Hogan in WCW, 1998 – How could I write a blog like this without bringing up this nugget? Eight years after giving pro wrestling one of the most memorable matches in WWE history, Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior attempted to rewrite history in WCW. Unfortunately for them, it wasn’t Vince McMahon holding the pencil and writing what would become a bomb of a program.

Warrior’s debut was great. Some fans were surprised, some expected it, but all went crazy when the lights went out and returned with the Warrior in a WCW ring. Warrior cut a great (but lengthy) promo on Hogan and Bischoff. It was certainly an electric moment but sadly for Warrior fans, someone turned the power off pretty quickly on this memorable moment.

See the fun part about the Warrior is watching him talk but unfortunately at some point he is going to have to wrestle. He did and his long awaited singles match with Hogan is regarded by many as one of the worst WCW main-events in history and boy does that say a lot.

Warrior only resurfaced one more time in WCW after the Halloween Havoc disaster. Depending upon who you believe either the Warrior held out for more money after the match or WCW simply stopped calling him. Either way, WCW finally moved on and spared their fans of another Warrior vs. Hogan match.

The Four Horsemen turn on Ole Anderson, 1987 – I remember watching this as a kid and getting excited seeing Ole Anderson slap J.J. Dillon moments after Dillon made fun of Anderson’s kid. Ole was always something of a bully and a bad-a$* so seeing Ole get his revenge on the Four Horsemen was a moment I was ready to pay $20 to see.

Instead, Ole wound up in a bunch of tag team matches and singles matches against Arn that never went anywhere. The angle fell completely flat and Ole bombed as a babyface. Maybe he was just too good of a heel that even when fighting the Horsemen, nobody wanted to cheer Ole? Whatever the reasons were, Ole retired less than a year later and the angle became a forgotten moment after an intense start.

Ronnie Garvin turns heel, 1988 – Ronnie Garvin never particularly clicked as a babyface to justify the push he received by Dusty Rhodes in 1987. However, Garvin was always seen as a gritty, tough guy and a pro wrestler that could hold his own against anyone. That is why I, like many were surprised when he helped the Four Horsemen at the expense of Dusty Rhodes.

The start of this angle was fantastic. Garvin entered the ring during a match at the Great American Bash 1988 featuring Dusty Rhodes vs. Barry Windham. The referee was knocked out, J.J. got up on the apron, and Garvin appeared to even the odd for Dusty. Instead, Garvin clocked the son of a plumber with his famous right hand to a huge reaction from the Baltimore crowd. The feud was on…and off.

Garvin quickly left the promotion for the WWE after the turn. Garvin vs. Dusty never got off the ground, failing to deliver on what was one of the most exciting moments in wrestling at the time.

Randy Orton is kicked out of Evolution, 2004 – This certainly won’t go down in history as the greatest angle of all time but at the time this was huge. After running around with Triple H, Batista, and Ric Flair, Randy Orton for two years, Orton was kicked out of Evolution. The thumbs up/thumbs down was a WWE moment for the ages. Unfortunately the excitement ended there for Orton.

Orton lost all of his singles matches with Triple H, thus taking steam right off of the kid who was touted to be the next big babyface of the WWE. Instead, Orton turned heel a couple of months after his final match with Triple H at the Royal Rumble, completely abandoning his big push to be the next WWE hero.

In other words, the WWE wasted an entire year building Orton’s turn just to squash Orton, and turn him heel again a few months later.

WWE: The Destruction of the Shield

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WWE WrestleMania V: Oh, How It Drags

March 12, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

-Couch, Olevia, iced tea, copy of show. Anything missing? Oh, right, throw pillow. Back’s a little sore from carrying the burdens of WrestleMania IV. I was about five minutes away from calling Dr. Phil Astin and asking for something to help me bounce back.

-So It’s April 2, 1989, and we’ve returned to the Trump Plaza in Atlantic City, NJ. Did Vince develop some kind of gambling addiction from IV? The celebrities at this show should have been Pete Rose, Art Schichter, and Rick Tocchet.

-Monsoon and Ventura welcome us to the show, albeit informally, as we rush into America the Beautiful, as sung by at-the-time Women’s Champion Rockin’ Robin. Let’s just say that there’s a reason that she was never asked to do it again. There hasn’t been a single good rendition done by a white person thus far through five WrestleManias. On an unrelated note, did you know that Robin’s brother is Jake Roberts? That explains a couple of things.

-Also of note, apparently a young Lance Storm was in the crowd. I’ll do my best to look for him, since it’s the most airtime he’d ever see at WrestleMania.

-#5 for Finkel. Moving on.

-Up first , Hercules takes on King Haku. Haku is brought to the ring on a portable throne (not like a port-o-potty), carried by some barely pubescent ring boys, and led by road agent Terry Garvin. If you’ve never read “Sex, Lies, and Headlocks”, then you’ll never know why this situation is hilarious to me.

-The loose storyline here is that Bobby Heenan had once sold Hercules’ contract to Ted DiBiase, who proceeded to make Herc into a “slave”. So instead of facing DiBiase, Herc faces Haku, who is managed by Heenan. There’s no word on how Herc got himself “emancipated”. Maybe Jack Tunney freed him. Then that would mean that somebody would have to assassinate Tunney at the theater where “No Holds Barred” played, so….oh, forget it.

-Just a typical “power brawler” match, but Haku hits the greatest back breaker EVER at one point. Then he follows with one that may be one of the worst ever. See, Haku’s so awesome that he can hit both ends of any spectrum.

-I think we’re about due for another barefoot wrestler, now that I think of it. This needs to cross over into other sports. What could be more intimidating than an NFL lineman with no cleats? Nothing.

-Hercules scores the pin with a back suplex hold, and Haku becomes the first man in history to not raise the shoulder and get the pin himself. See? Haku’s a worker in flux. He does things you’d never expect, and he can also kill you with one hand. Sort of like an artistic illusionist from Hell.

-Jesse notes that it’s a “big win for the slave”. This is narrowly edged in insensitivity by the time that Roddy Piper and Bob Orton whipped Mr. T with a belt, and Ventura said that it was like “watching Roots 2”. Did any of his campaign contributions come from Robert Byrd?

-The Rockers get some interview time before their match with the Twin Towers, and Shawn’s sounding a little raspy there. The Atlantic City nightlife will do that to ya. By the way, as non-religious as I am, I would love to be present for when Shawn meets Saint Peter and Peter says “Yeah, you get into Heaven, but first we’re going to watch the tape of your life once God gets over here”. At the very least, I sense Shawn’s going to be twitching a lot.

-I’ll say it every time that I hear it: Jive Soul Bro makes me happy.

-So it’s the Rockers vs. the Towers in your classic underdog/big bully contest. Big Bossman is way overweight here, but not compared to Akeem, the former One Man Gang, whose gimmick is that he converted to being “black”. If Shawn and Vince die on the same day, Saint Peter can sit both of them down and have a double feature! Some parts will even intersect, and they can save time! But still, what are the odds, right?

-Shawn is just carrying the pace of this match, working quickly despite being hungover. I guess that was the big knock on Marty Jannetty. He could only work “decently” when he was hammered. Would you have ever guessed that ten years later, Bossman and Shawn would be allies in Vince McMahon’s corporation?

-Great moment alert: Slick, at ringside, gets annoyed with referee Joey Marella and yells “What we need is a black referee!” and causes Ventura to emit a stifled laugh under his breath. Wrestling was better when it wasn’t over scripted.

-Another great moment alert: The Rockers are double teaming Akeem and Ventura complains that the referee is doing nothing about it. Monsoon, always one to defend babyfaces no matter what, counters that perhaps Marella is checking to see where the Bossman was, when in fact Marella is standing there, watching the Rockers theoretically cheat. At least when Monsoon made an asinine statement, there was some modicum of comedic value. When Michael Cole does it, he’s just a colossal tool.

-After Akeem murders Shawn with a clothesline, we go into the finishing sequence that sees Shawn pinned with the 747 splash. Undertaker has a streak of wins, but Shawn has a streak of slugs that he’s made look good at WrestleMania. Next year: watch as Akio Sato doesn’t look out of place, thanks to the impeccable timing and ring generalship of the Heartbreak Kid!

-Poor Ted DiBiase. From the World Title finals to facing Brutus Beefcake in meaningless filler. I know wrestlers less interesting and less engaging who are given many bigger roles than this. Some of them are Ted’s own relatives.

-So DiBiase and Beefcake are stringing together a good exhibition of face and heel moves, but what’s the point? There’s zero storyline, and the crowd’s made up of suit wearing morons who are just there to be seen. Maybe Lance Storm can carry the crowd to a ***1/2 cheering performance.

-You know what would save this match? A double count out? I was just kidding, but the booking wasn’t. So we have no winner, and Beefcake goes after both men with his giant hedge clippers. Monsoon sees nothing wrong with this, calling it “extra curricular activities”. Monsoon also thinks that getting busted with cocaine at a Boston subway station is a “welcome diversion”.

-Earlier today, the Bushwhackers are interviewed during brunch with a sizable crowd gathered to watch them make pigs of themselves. Bad as that sounds, it’s sad that that’s more fans than AWA could draw at the end.

-Man, the Bushwhackers had the best fans: they would dress in their most slovenly attire and do the “arm bounce” dance while licking each other. Luke and Butch missed their calling as cult leaders.

-How bad is the match between the Bushwhackers and Fabulous Rougeau Brothers? Monsoon and Ventura actually have a debate about immigration. Talk about cutting edge! I hope Linda McMahon’s cribbing notes from this telecast. Benoit’s not on the show, so I’m sure the tape won’t be hard to find in Vince’s library. I just hope it’s not stuck against the inexplicably-sticky WBF tapes. Wait….ewww….

-While I appreciate Jacques and Raymond’s dorky heel mannerisms, it’s not enough to save things as the Whackers win in an awkward finish. Speaking of awkward, the winners lick Sean Mooney afterward, which I’m sure goes a long way in explaining why jumping to a Queens, NY news station a few years later wasn’t that hard of a decision for Mooney.

-“Mr. Perfect looks perfect!” exclaims Monsoon. Then Perfect stumbles during his entrance. Priceless.

-Mr. Perfect vs. the Slammy Award Winning Blue Blazer, aka Owen Hart. Creepy, isn’t it? Owen’s dead, having died in basically the same costume ten years later. Perfect’s dead, dying in 2003 of an overdose. And referee Tim White committed suicide at Armaged—wait, that was a storyline?

-In few words, best match of the night so far. Perfect gives Blazer plenty of offense, and Owen works in some nifty suplexes and pinning attempts. Perfect, however, was just on top of his game, knowing when to let the babyface dominate, and then knowing when to regain control himself, and look like an athletic God in doing so. If Jack Swagger didn’t come off as such an inbred yokel, he could do this gimmick just as well and ride it to the top.

-You know you’re a worthwhile wrestler when you’re working as a babyface and Jesse Ventura can’t even slag you. He hasn’t said one bad word about Owen during the entire bout. Come to think of it, he seemed to love the Hart Foundation, even as faces. Geez, Jesse, how bad DID Stu stretch you out?

-Perfect ends it with the Perfect-Plex. Stellar match, if short. Miss both men immensely. Sigh.

-Speaking of Ventura, here he is to wake the crowd up by posing. Posing….to AWAKEN the fans. Chris Masters, you’re doing it wrong.

-Earlier in the day, Mr. Fuji competed in WWF’s 5K run on the AC boardwalk. Can you imagine them trying this now? Who would compete in it? Not to slag WWE’s fanbase, but can the majority of them run up the street, let alone 5K? I’d give it a shot, provided that I get to wear Fuji’s Oddjob attire.

-More non-wrestling, except it’s Run DMC performing the “WrestleMania Rap”. I look forward twenty years from now to Kid Rock performing the “WrestleMania Crap”.

-So the WWF World Tag Team Titles are on the line in a 3 on 2 handicap match, as Demolition defend against the Powers of Pain and Mr Fuji. Fuji turned on the Demos, because um….he wanted to? Look, the man starred in Fuji Bandito! HE HAS IMMUNITY FROM EXPLAINING HIS NONSENSICAL ACTIONS! YOU HEAR ME? IMMUNITY!

-Speaking of immune, the Demos seem to be immune from getting this crowd to care. Maybe the 5K run sapped the fans’ energy. I mean watching it, not participating in it. It’s New Jersey, afterall.

-The heat segment, hypothetically, is supposed to be some unfair triple teams on Ax, but, given that the fans are as clueless as Jeremy Piven, the work is met with total silence. Let’s fast forward to the finish!

-Brrrrzzzzzttttbrzflfubflubflubflub DECAPITATION AND THE DEMOS OVERCOME THE ODDS! That was fun.

-Backstage, Macho Man Randy Savage screams at no one in particular and yells at an invisible Hogan. Then he asked the production crew if they were ready for him to “get into character”. Okay, I made the last part up, but you know that it’s within the realm of possibility.

-How far are Dino Bravo and Ronnie Garvin down on the WWF food chain? Jimmy Snuka made his return after a four year absence while both men stood in the ring, waiting to begin their match. It got a lukewarm reaction as well. In related news, it’s been 20 years since a WWFE PPV has been held in New Jersey, save for the Meadowlands. Thanks a lot, you silent heathens.

-Bravo wins in about 3 minutes with the side suplex. I didn’t leave out any major details, trust me. Oh, except for the crowd chanting “USA!” to show solidarity against Bravo. I’m sure Montreal native Ronnie Garvin was energized by the support of the fans.

-Why did Vince even sign the Brain Busters, Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard? You know, other than to screw with NWA? Actually, never mind. They’re facing Strike Force, who need a boost of momentum after losing the tag belts one year earlier, Martel getting hurt, a lack of crowd reaction, the fact that they still have the cheesy Kenny Loggins-style music….actually, they need a lot right about now.

-At least this should be spirited. All four men are fine wrestlers, and, go figure, the wrestling is supreme. The only times Arn Anderson has had a bad match, the words “Renegade” and “Roma” would complete the sentence.

-Martel with a nice counter of Arn’s body scissors into the Boston Crab. Too bad that every time I see Martel in this era, I get the theme to Charles in Charge in my head. Force manages a pair of Figure Fours on the Busters and the crowd seems to be in awe. Wrest-ling?

-And now the story, as Santana overshoots a flying forearm and knocks Martel to the floor. This leads to Martel turning on Santana, kicking off a moderate heel run. Easiest way to get Rick to turn on you is say “My name is Tom Zenk and I won’t re-sign my deal for just any amount of money.”

-So Martel walks off and Santana eats the Spike-Driver to give the Busters the win. Well, it woke me up.

-Ooops, it’s nap time again, as it’s the dreaded “Piper’s Pit” segment with a returning Rowdy Roddy Piper, Brother Love, and 1980’s TV host Morton Downey Jr, who is a cross between Glenn Beck and Jerry Springer. It runs 20 minutes and it ends with Downey taking a fire extinguisher to the face. This is one of those segments that makes you envy the truly vegetative. It was such a boring and heat less segment, that you just know that it had a profound effect on Lance Storm’s life.

-I believe that this was the beginning of the end of Piper’s “cool factor”, as he had degenerated into a disturbed self-parody from here, save for a few shining moments here and there. Piper went away for 2 years and came back a far different man. Ever see the movie The Astronaut’s Wife, where Johnny Depp is in space and loses contact with mission control for a couple minutes and then, after they recontact him, he seems a little bit off? Yeah, I never saw it either.

-Mega Powers video package, to remind you why you ordered the show in the first place.

-Now for a Hogan promo, where he claims Savage tried to put Elizabeth between them. Well, that certainly lends credence to Monsoon’s “What a threesome!” comment.

-Back to actual wrestling, also in the loosest sense of the word, as we have Jake Roberts taking on Andre the Giant, with Big John Studd as the guest referee. You know you’re in New Jersey when there’s a woman with mall hair dancing in the crowd to Studd’s music with an inebriated grin. I wonder where she dances at these days?

-Andre attacks early, ramming Roberts into a turnbuckle with no padding, leading Ventura and Monsoon to demand to know where the pad went. My guess: Pete Rose stole it, got Hogan and Savage to autograph it, and sold it to some mark out front just so he can build his credit line. Gambling is such a disease.

-Andre’s slothish offense is actually bringing the crowd to life. Then he gets his arms tied in the ropes. That’s the first time that’s ever happened to Andre, I’m certain.

-Studd gives Andre the business for not letting Jake back inside the ring, leading to the two men getting into it, while Ted DiBiase steals the bag with Damian, and Jake Roberts gives chase. Finally, Roberts chases Andre off with the snake (after regaining it) and gets the DQ win, after Andre attacked Studd. If this paragraph confuses you, then imagine being Monsoon and Ventura, who can’t figure out the actual reason Andre was DQed (the fact that he attacked the referee). It’s like a convoluted plot for the OC, except Andre can not only hold his liquor better than Mischa Barton, but he probably smells better too.

Fan interviewed by Mooney: “JAKE’S THE BEST, JAKE’S THE BEST, JAKE’S THE BEST!”. He’s pretty enthusiastic for being Jake’s hook-up.

-Sherri cuts a quick promo, where she rips Rockin’ Robin’s singing. Sherri would go on to sing Shawn Michaels’ theme music 3 years later. Yep.

-The Hart Foundation vs. Honky Tonk Man and Greg Valentine looks to be a saving grace. It’s funny that in Bret’s book, he criticizes Honky’s abilities, saying his strikes “couldn’t break an egg”. Nowadays, Bret swings at Vince McMahon with no percision or coordination. So in other words, Honky Tonk Man wrestles like a stroke victim. Certainly adds new perspective.

-As Honky and the Hammer work over Bret, Ventura and Monsoon discuss Honky’s IC Title reign, where Gorilla mentions that he had the gold longer than Pat Patterson, and Jesse adds “No kidding, what a relic he was”. Easy there, Jesse, or Pat won’t let you share his haberdasher anymore.

-For those that say that Neidhart was just a slug who was carried by Bret, watch him lay down some dropkicks and then make your claim again. Plus, he had wide hips, and that bade well for his daughter. Wide hips on a girl? Gooooooooood.

-A megaphone shot ends it, as Bret whacks Honky across the….arm? That’s a pretty lethal swing. Maybe Congress should step in and investigate bicep concussions in wrestling.

-Finally, a notable match, as The Ultimate Warrior defends the IC title against Ravishing Rick Rude. The whole deal started when Rude jumped Warrior as the two men were having a posedown at the 1989 Royal Rumble. That’s what we need more of on PPV, pose downs. There’s your replacement for Survivor Series: Super-Flex! A night of posedowns! Think of the celebrities you could have on hand: Mark McGwire, Floyd Landis, Roger Clemens, that uhh….chick from East Germany who became a dude….

-Of note: As Rude comes out, a semi-hot babe in the crowd with the GREATEST mall hair ever. Mall hair can’t be taught. Either you have it, or you don’t. I hope the cameras find Lance Storm. Can you imagine a mall perm with a widow’s peak and a rat tail in back? Lance wouldn’t have even needed to cut promos with that hair; he could have gotten over on his appearance alone. Like an out of touch Goldberg.

-Funny bit to open the match, as Rude tries to jump Warrior beforehand with a kneelift and ends up smashing his knee into the IC Title around his waist. As tough as Rude was, he still had no problem playing a fool in the ring. Just don’t confuse character Rude with out-of-character Rude. PN News did and he still can’t see straight.

-When does Rick Rude EVER hit a missle dropkick? He did here. Great back and forth stuff.

-Monsoon gets testy because Heenan has his hands in his jacket pockets, believing that he may be going for a weapon. Ventura tries to downplay it, saying he’s just counting his chips. Monsoon wants to know if Heenan thinks there’s a coke machine at ringside. Now THERE’S a funny concept: a tag team loses a match because the partner on the apron went to get a Sprite, and his buddy couldn’t tag out and thus fell victim to the finish.

-Rude takes over, but can’t swivel his hips due to the pain inflicted upon him. We need more comedic selling in wrestling, especially when it ties into the psychology. Fans notice these things. If you notice, the crowd’s actually alive for this one.

-Rude gets the tainted pin after Heenan hooks Warrior’s foot during a suplex attempt, and Ravishing Rick gets his only WWF gold. A time traveling smark went back to 1989 and watched this match, saying this: “So Rude, the better wrestler, has to have his manager help him beat a muscle head with 2 moves? Afterward, they don’t even let Rude celebrate because the focus is on Warrior!”. Don’t worry, I just gave him two bags of Smartfood white cheddar popcorn, so that should hold him for 20 minutes.

-Ventura on Heenan’s cheating: “Vintage Heenan!”. Dammit, Jesse, you just gave Cole carte blanche!

-Just to drag this show out some more, here’s Hacksaw Jim Duggan and Bad News Brown in a battle of “Two men who haven’t had a great match since at least 1986”. It’s just strictly fodder, though Duggan yelling “GET OFF MY @$$” to Tim White livens the fans a bit. Just slightly. Lance is in the crowd thinking “You know, wait ten years, and this guy won’t be chanting USA anymore. He’ll convert to being Canadian and we’ll dominate a dying promotion! All 27 people watching will hate us!”

-Ventura says “If either man tries a hold, they might win it”. Sage advice. Sadly, a chair and 2X4 get involved and it’s a double DQ. Then we get the infamous image of Duggan’s snot-riddled mustache. Classy.

-Red Rooster promo. Terry Taylor was the Chris Harris of his era: decent wrestler, bad gimmick, laughingstock of the biz, but nobody feels bad.

-Rooster vs. Bobby Heenan and it’s over in 30 seconds as Rooster wins. Heenan had the Brooklyn Brawler with him, which is more Mania airtime than Lance Storm ever had. And thus brings “Let’s make fun of Lance Storm for being bland and underutilized” time to an end. On an up note, Rooster’s undefeated at WrestleMania, much like Undertaker. You can see the similarities.

-And now, the big finish.

-Mmm….Elizabeth. She’s so cute when she’s concerned.

-Why does Savage have to make his entrance first? He’s the champ! Stupid face/heel designations. Liz is out second to zero pop. Did watching the 5K kill everyone’s libido?

-There’s a recurring theme through this match that I will address here, rather than keep coming back to it: Although Jesse Ventura plays a devil’s advocate heel who points out babyface hypocrisy and praises the villains, he REALLY goes out of his way to slag Hogan in this match, going far beyond any burial job that he’s ever done. In his book “I Ain’t Got Time to Bleed”, Ventura was appalled that Hogan was paid over a million dollars for this show. To this I say: if Hogan wasn’t on this show, and had never worked in wrestling, then NO ONE would know who Jesse Ventura is. Hogan, while a politician with a massive ego, made everyone richer just by being there. Ventura needs to shut up once in a while and realize that his fame came vicariously through the very man he’s clearly jealous of. Ventura’s my favorite color commentator of all time, but, seriously, he needs to shut the Hell up.

-Lemme climb off my high horse now….

-Both men have worked this crowd into a frenzy with the “cat and mouse” game as Jesse calls it. GREAT heat spot as Savage pulls the neutral Liz in his way of a potential Hogan punch. Only months earlier, he was a virtuous and hard working hero who had the fans screaming for him. Is there anyone who can seamlessly play hero and villain like him? I think not.

-The one-upsmanship leads to Hogan getting busted open, and Savage using little heel tricks like going to the eyes and choking him with wrist tape to keep the advantage. Savage was the first opponent outside of Andre that made you think that he had a legit chance of beating the Hulkster.

-In a moment made famous by the old WWF WrestleMania NES commercial, Hogan bodyslams Savage over the top and the brawl continues outside, leading to Liz getting emotionally involved, and ultimately ejected. This is the first match of the night that really feels like it’s between two men who hate each other, and want each other dead. It’s probably not far off, either.

-Savage lands the Savage Elbow and gets 2 off of it, and this, of course, leads to the Hogan finish and his second World Title. GREAT match, and an all time favorite of mine, even though I’m a Savage loyalist. Great end to a dragging show.

-CYNIC SAYS: Going through Hell to get to Heaven. WrestleMania V sapped my energy, though many matches were “solid”, though it was the main event that made it all worthwhile. Soon, Vince cut back on the matches and length, for the better of course. But still, check out the two singles titles matches if you want to see some classics.

Coming soon: a whole new decade.

When he isn’t watching WWE, TNA, or his beloved Philadelphia Eagles and Phillies, Justin Henry can be found writing. It is his passion as well as his goal in life to become a well-regarded (as well as well-paid) columnist or author. Subscribe to The Cynical Examination, his wrestling blog, at

Justin Henry has been an occasional contributor to Camel Clutch Blog since 2009. His other work can be found at and He can be found on Twitter, so give him a follow.

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WrestleMania V – A Portrait in Wrestling History

March 12, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

From Trump Plaza in Atlantic City, NJ
April 2, 1989

The picture of the WWF hadn’t changed much in the year between WrestleMania IV and V. Other than the unfamiliar sight of somebody other than Hulk Hogan being WWF Champion, in this case Macho Man Randy Savage, things in the WWF were seemingly running as smooth as ever.

In late 1988, WWF released their first video game, entitled WWF Wrestlemania, for the classic Nintendo Entertainment System. With Hulk Hogan’s shirt-tearing image plastered on the cover of the game’s packaging, fans who yearned for a WWF-based video game had to get used to this being the only one of its kind until October 1990, when WWF Challenge was released.

Hogan wasn’t just serving as the avatar for wrestling video games. “The Hulkster” would soon be starring in No Holds Barred, a low-rent fighting movie to be released theatrically in June 1989. Although the movie was a critical flop, it did two things. One, it introduced the wrestling world to Zeus, who would be making his way into the promotion toward the end of spring.

The other was reinforcing the idea that, although Savage may be champion right now, Hogan was still the most popular wrestler they had.

In fact, Hogan was used to elevate Savage’s profile as well. The two teamed as The Mega Powers, thwarting the likes of Ted Dibiase and Andre the Giant, as well as the up-and-coming Twin Towers. Never before had the WWF featured two good guys that were, seemingly, on par with each other at such a high clip.

It seemed inevitable, however, that Hogan would be getting the gold back sooner, rather than later. With Savage in the way as champion, however, the WWF needed a way to explain how Hogan would have to challenge his best friend in the whole wide world over it.

Against the backdrop of New Jersey’s gambling hub for the second straight year, WrestleMania was thrust into the colored, flashing lights yet again. However, unlike the previous year’s glitzy pageantry with the World Championship tournament, WrestleMania V would have a decidedly darker tone.

Perhaps it’s fitting that the house lights inside the Trump Plaza seemed a few shades blacker for the building’s WrestleMania sequel, because the main event of the night featured a storyline that wasn’t exactly comfortable.

In a chapter that would be more at home in the playbook of the Attitude Era, WWF Champion Macho Man Randy Savage and one-time best friend Hulk Hogan watched their Mega Powers-partnership disintegrate over a woman. That woman, of course, would be Savage’s better half, Miss Elizabeth.

After forming an alliance in the fall of 1987 that culminated with Hogan aiding Savage in becoming champion at WrestleMania IV, the duo staved off Ted Dibiase, Andre the Giant, The Twin Towers, and anyone else that dared stand up to the two biggest heroes that the WWF had on display.

Things went sour in February 1989, however, when a mishap during a tag team match saw Savage land on Miss Elizabeth on the concrete. Hogan took her away to be checked out medically, and Savage saw Hogan’s rescue attempt to be him sidling up to her as a homewrecker.

That night, with Miss Elizabeth in agony on a gurney, Savage accused Hogan of having “jealous eyes”, while Hogan defended his actions as being nothing more than platonic. The nail in the Mega Powers’ coffin was hammered in by Savage striking “The Immortal” with his World Championship belt, with Savage further butchering their ties with added punches and threats.

Savage hated Hogan, and perhaps hated Miss Elizabeth more for refusing to take sides. Hogan, for his part, swore revenge for Savage’s treachery, and planned on taking his championship as a means to that end.

Elsewhere, The Ultimate Warrior had became the big star that WrestleMania IV indicated would be coming, and he achieved ascension to that level by winning the Intercontinental Championship from The Honky Tonk Man.

In his sights, however, was Ravishing Rick Rude, who brutally assaulted him with a flexi-bar at the Royal Rumble after the two engaged in a posing contest. The match was also of importance to Rude’s manager, Bobby “The Brain” Heenan who, after five years in the WWF with many different charges in his camp, had yet to manage a single titleholder.

Speaking of managers, Mr. Fuji was four months removed from double-crossing Demolition, the team he managed to WWF World Tag Team gold, and was attempting to lead the Powers of Pain, whom he left the Demos for, to the gold. Fuji would join the Powers in a three on two handicap match against Demolition, who looked forward to not only defending their belts, but destroying Fuji for his betrayal.

Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse Ventura would, as usual, call the action. Rap icons Run DMC would perform a special “Wrestlemania Rap” in the middle of the show. Also, Superfly Jimmy Snuka would return after a four year exile.

But biggest of all was Rowdy Roddy Piper returning, fresh from a turn in Hollywood. Piper would come back to antagonize Brother Love and talk show host Morton Downey Jr.

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Hercules def. King Haku in 6:57
(Decent opener, but the storyline was better: Hercules was attempting to get revenge on Bobby Heenan and his associates for Heenan selling Hercules into slavery. This actually happened)

The Twin Towers def. The Rockers in 8:02
(Sign you knew Shawn Michaels was going to be great, part 4,515: despite being severely hung over, Shawn still stole the show. By the way, this is the first WrestleMania match to feature four men born in the 1960’s or later)

Brutus Beefcake fought Ted Dibiase to a double count out in 10:01
(Man, what a letdown for Dibiase: headlining one year, and then drawing with Hogan’s landscaper the next. No wonder Dibiase fell into drugs and alcohol so hard)

The Bushwhackers def. The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers in 3:59
(Two years later, and Jacques would be reinventing himself as a crazed Canadian law enforcer. How many other forms of entertainment can boast THAT sentence?)

Mr. Perfect def. The Blue Blazer in 5:38
(Sigh…..great match for being so short, but still, it’s depressing to think about)

WWF World Tag Team/Handicap Match: Demolition def. Powers of Pain/Mr. Fuji in 8:54
(Mr. Fuji in 1989 was in better shape than Ric Flair in 2011. Truth)

Dino Bravo def. Ronnie Garvin in 4:59
(This is the match where those walking cotton candy and popcorn vendors earn their biggest money)

The Brain Busters def. Strike Force in 9:17
(Really good, albeit abbreviated, tag team match that cut a good pace. This also led to Rick Martel turning heel and becoming a fashion model at age 33. And nobody batted an eye)

Jake Roberts def. Andre the Giant by disqualification in 9:44
(The special referee was Big John Studd, who apparently won the right to be referee by winning the 1989 Royal Rumble. Ted Dibiase interfered in the match, which marked the last known time that the Mega Bucks ever worked together)

The Hart Foundation def. Honky Tonk Man/Greg Valentine in 7:40
(Honky became the first man in wrestling history to be knocked unconscious after being hit in the elbow with a megaphone. Maybe the first in human history too)

WWF Intercontinental: Rick Rude def. The Ultimate Warrior in 9:36 to win the title
(Talk about an underrated match; neither man was considered a good worker to this point, and Rude led the way in a tremendous, albeit criminally short, match. Warrior’s post match beatdown of Bobby Heenan apparently exacerbated Heenan’s lingering neck injuries)

Hacksaw Jim Duggan fought Bad News Brown to a double disqualification in 3:49
(If you ever wanted to see Duggan with a primo snot rocket in his beard, you’re watching the right show)

Red Rooster def. Bobby Heenan in 32 seconds
(Bobby Heenan: who DIDN’T he job for?)

WWF World Championship: Hulk Hogan def. Macho Man Randy Savage in 17:54 to win the title
(This match had everything: intense storyline, shades of character from both men and Miss Elizabeth, blood, a crazy bump (Savage being bodyslammed over the top rope), and a satisfying finish. All the bad came from Jesse Ventura going too far in slagging Hogan during the match. Otherwise, great stuff)


Despite having too many matches (14 in four hours), WrestleMania V provided just as much good as they did bad. The majority of the matches had little to no storyline value, and that would become an unacceptable standard for an event that is to be the annual snapshot of WWE for some imaginary time capsule.

However, Vince McMahon must have liked the idea of fourteen matches expanding his card to its limits, because the next two WrestleManias would feature the same amount of contests.

Although the stretched concept didn’t last forever, the idea of adding deep-running intensity and hatred into storylines would. The WWF was getting over the idea of “Hogan vs. monster heel”, and firmly embracing a newer trick of letting characters, not so much caricatures, shine.

Hogan and Savage’s blood feud over a woman helped set the new standard for main event feuds. Over the next several years, Wrestlemania story arcs would feature more attempts at adultery, family betrayal, and calls for blood that would all but make the campy 1980’s “Rock n Wrestling” style extinct.

WrestleMania V will forever be remembered for its headliners, Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage, as the two men would define this era.

Justin Henry has been an occasional contributor to Camel Clutch Blog since 2009. His other work can be found at and He can be found on Twitter, so give him a follow.

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1989 WWE Royal Rumble Review – Couch Groove Wrestling

January 23, 2012 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Hulk Hogan eliminated Randy Savage in the WWE Royal Rumble 1989 which featured Randy Savage, Andre the Giant, and Hulk HoganYou know, I’d be the first to admit that my 1988 Royal Rumble rant was a bit lacking.

Looking over it, I see where I was the most bored and disinterested, and it showed in my writing. I don’t apologize often, but I’ll do so by writing a better rant for this show, the 1989 Royal Rumble.

There’s an underlying message in here. The 1988 show had a lot of kinks to be worked out, as did my accompanying rant. The 1989 show was a vast improvement and my rant, well….let’s cross our fingers. I hope it’s less boring than Dino Bravo’s weight lifting challenge from ’88 at least.

-January 15, 1989, from the Summit in Houston, TX. It’s the home of non-playoff football, as well as pitchers who have played or WILL play for the Phillies. Thanks, Ed Wade!

-And yes, this would be the first Rumble on PPV. It’s also got a better logo than the 1988 version, which featured fancy handwriting fit for some historical document, and is replaced through 1995 with the famed block lettering. It’s the block lettering I grew up with.

-The A-Team of Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse Ventura is on duty here, and I’m pleased. As much as I love the duo of Monsoon and Bobby Heenan for sheer laughs, Monsoon and Ventura could make any match seem like an important event. They were like John Madden and Pat Summerall in that regard. How many NFL games did Madden and Summerall make seem like life-and-death battles with their natural cadence? Same with Monsoon and Ventura. Would Hogan-Andre at Wrestlemania 3 been as good if Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler were on commentary? What about Hogan-Warrior? My thoughts exactly.

-As with the 1988 rant, I’ll be using the “what would I pay?” system to determine what I feel the value of the event at hand is. The system is kind of moot if you already own the show, but you can see if it feels like something you SHOULD have paid for. But if you watched it and hated it, you’d already know that…well…let’s move on.


-Oh, thank God they’re getting Bravo out of the way now. Say, what’s up with these 2 out of 3 falls matches? This is the third one in the first five matches in Rumble history, and then they never had another one at the Rumble ever. What gives?

-All three heels take a battering ram in the corner, and the crowd is happy. Which three are the heels, you ask? Lemme counter by asking: has there ever been three French Canadians on the roster at the same time that were all faces? Ever? Maybe a slew of man-rats, er, jobbers that Pat Patterson would have tag along, but nobody major.

-Le Bad Guyex win the first fall via Le Bombe de Rougeau on Bret. It’s amazing when you look back and realize how many tag team matches from 1987-1990 ended with either Bret Hart or Shawn Michaels taking the fall. Hate to say it, but maybe that’s why not many fans stuck around during the “New Generation” (“HE’S the champ? The guy that once got pinned by the Warlord? No thanks…”)

-This is a great warm-up match, as all of the participants at least have well defined characters. The Harts are the well oiled tag team machine, Duggan’s the patriotic Buford Pusser type, and all three heels are openly foreign. It’s like paint by numbers on how to get fans 20 years ago to cheer and boo.

-Anywho, the good guys take the second fall after a horde of moves on Raymond, ending with an elbow drop by Duggan. Getting pinned by an elbow drop is only acceptable if it’s Survivor Series, or you’re laying down for The Rock. There’s no other exceptions.

-Finally, the faces win the third fall when Duggan hits Bravo with the 2X4 (Bravo was so boring last year that it tainted the thrill of Duggan’s Rumble win….well that’s MY theory) and Bret pins Bravo.

RATING: $4.50. Good, solid stuff, and I wasn’t bored by Bravo. We’ve already topped 1988! Now as long as Paul Roma’s not headlining, we’re in decent shape.

-Meanwhile, there’s chicanery afoot, as Ted Dibiase (the dad, not the boring sponge of a son) isn’t happy with the number he drew, so he has an offer for Slick, who’s shady on the basis that he’s a pimp. You know, how come they didn’t stereotype against Flash Funk in 1997? He dressed like a pimp, but was a good guy due to being “funky”. If you’re going to stereotype, at least be consistent.

-Also, the Bushwhackers swap their numbers for some reason. For those who complain about goofy characters now like Hornswoggle, Santino Marella, and the guest hosts, I give you: Luke and Butch. Now stop complaining.


-Judy Martin would not be allowed on the current WWE TV product looking the way she does here, unless she somehow convinced McMahon that she was Greg Valentine.

-Sensational Sherri shows up and challenges the winner, looking like Shia LeBouf going to a rave. I know Sherri’s dead and all, but geez, 80’s fashion was crap.

-The crowd could really care less about the match, even though Robin is portrayed as a local hero. The most notable thing is Sherri on commentary, as her and Jesse taunt Monsoon. Otherwise, it’s your typical modern divas match without the fitness model physiques. I wonder if this is why so many guys my age came out of the closet (no, not me).

-Robin wins after faking a cross body, and then hitting a real one. See, Robin was so good at faking things, she even had another woman fooled! Err, let’s move on.

RATING: $1.25. I was gonna go two bucks, but I decided to dock it 75 cents for having to listen to Robin sing “America the Beautiful” at Wrestlemania V. Look, it’s my convoluted ratings sytem; I’ll do what I want with it.

-Sean Mooney confronts Slick over the possible tampering with Dibiase, but Slick insists he hasn’t seen Dibiase in over a month. Well, given the travel schedule back then, it’s possible. Wouldn’t surprise me if half of these guys said to each other “You still work here?!?” Actually, I’ll bet they said that to Terry Taylor a lot.


-So instead of having a match, the Intercontinental Champion and one of the top heels will be engaged in a posing contest. Can you imagine if they did this now? Wait, they actually DID do this in 2003 with Triple H and Scott Steiner! And it was horrible! They even had an arm wrestling match, just to empty the tray of embarrassing 1980’s non-match clichés. I’m surprised there wasn’t a dual interview between the two on a revamped Brother Love Show.

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-The story is that Rude is seriously trying to win on technical merit, whereas Ultimate Warrior just aggressively recreates Rude’s poses, and the crowd cheers louder for him. It’s also notable for Rude using one of those flexi-bars that Chuck Palumbo helped (not) make famous during his WCW run.

-After Warrior wins hands down, Bobby Heenan blinds Warrior with lotion (….not like that) and Rude beats the hell out of him with the flexi-bar. Then Warrior goes nuts and beats up the officials who aid him, including Nick Bockwinkel. Take THAT, AWA.

RATING: $2.00. Lame as it was, it created a fresh upper card angle, and the crowd was into it. Let’s just keep Tyler Reks and Chris Masters from trying their own version. In fact, let’s just keep both of them off TV.

-Mean Gene asks Elizabeth who she would pick between Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan in the Rumble. Ah, yes, the “jealous eyes” storyline. I dare say it was the first angle in WWF history that felt like it could have played out on Raw in the last decade and not felt ancient.


-If your mother attended this event, there’s a chance that she became pregnant if she was in the first two or three rows. Race and Haku have enough testosterone to fill the Roman Coliseum, and there’s plenty of manliness wafting through when these two go at it!*

(*Written by Pat Patterson)

-Haku comes to the ring on the throne-sedan, carried by a group of jobbers, so Race just knocks it over for fun. Wow, 1980’s WWF was hardcore! When do they break out the razor wire?

-Match is quite brutal, with Race taking huge bumps in his late forties, and he even managed to piledrive Haku on the concrete. If this match happened on Raw now, the internet would briefly faint out of ecstasy.

-Haku plants Race with a thrust kick to retain the crown and, effectively, send Race packing from WWF. Of note was Bobby Heenan playing cornerman to both, as they were both in his employ. Wait, I’m writing this on the day that Heenan’s new DVD came out and I haven’t bought it yet! What is wrong with me?!

RATING: $5.50. Surprisingly good stuff, given that it was a throwaway match. We could use more matches like this on modern undercards. Just brutal brawls without trademark moves.

-Intermission, plus promos. Remember the intermissions? They got rid of them in favor of matches involving Alicia Fox. Nothing says “take five minutes, stretch your legs, and get some beer” like Alicia Fox matches.


-Ah good: no Paul Roma this year to screw things up. The real main eventers get to main event! Except for Warrior. And Rude. And the Harts. And Duggan. Crap.

-So we’re finally up to 30 participants, and the winner gets….nothing. Except the opportunity to referee a midcard match at Wrestlemania V. My money’s on Joey Marella, going in.

-Just to show how COMPLETELY RANDOM AND UNSCRIPTED this show is, Ax and Smash of Demolition are 1 and 2. Monsoon and Ventura are more surprised than the fans are. Oddly enough, Ax and Smash go right at it instead of conserving energy and beating up the next entrant. I know they’re trying to keep it exciting, but for logic’s sake, couldn’t Ax and Smash just stand there and tell dirty jokes to each other? Seems sensible.

-Perhaps they should save their strength, because here comes Andre the Giant at #3! Ugh, this was the year they had the awkward camera angle every time someone came in. It looks like Zapruder footage, except slightly less grainy. And I do emphasize “slightly”.

-Mr. Perfect (sans singlet) is #4, but Andre can’t be contained, and he sends Smash flying. Poor Smash. At least he got to dress like a cat burglar in his next life. Ronnie Garvin is #5, and we actually have three former World Champions in the ring. Yes, I’m counting Garvin, though I don’t WANT to.

-Greg Valentine is 6 and Andre chucks Garvin. Good riddance. Jake Roberts is #7 and he has beef with Andre. Andre just simply chokes him while Ron Bass is #8, in what may have been his last appearance with the company. Andre tosses Roberts. Finally, Shawn Michaels is #9, just so Perfect isn’t the only athlete in the ring. Perfect backdrops Ax out to keep the pace going. To complete the first third, Bushwhacker Butch is #10. Shouldn’t have switched, matey. Then to top off the frantic pace thus far, Roberts returns with Damain, his python, and scares Andre into taking the final bump of his career, over the top for a self elimination. Jesse says it’s unfair; I say at least the pace is a good one.

-Honky Tonk Man is in at 11 while Perfect and Shawn just take bumps like superballs in there. Tito Santana is 12, and he and Valentine soon rekindle their old feud. Bad News Brown is 13, and Santana and Butch toss Honky. Man, after he lost the IC Title, Honky became everyone’s submissive, didn’t he?

-Marty Jannetty is 14, and we get some Rockers double teams going. WWF Champion Randy Savage is 15 to a NUCLEAR reaction, and he goes right for Bad News. The Rockers get rid of Bass, just to make me happy. Shawn would later steal Bass’ finisher and give it to Triple H (Well, not really, but since I’m writing this….)

-Arn Anderson (yes, he worked there) is 16 as Savage dumps Valentine, his future Survivor Series partner. Savage and Arn then team up and dump Shawn, as Tully Blanchard comes in at 17. Jannetty goes next via both Brain Busters. And then….

-#18: Hulk Hogan. Get ready to count the bodies! So long, Perfect. Bye bye, Santana. Bushwhacker Luke is #19 just as Bad News tosses out Butch. See, shouldn’t have switched! Koko B Ware is not only #20, but he’s also eliminated by Hogan in short order. Hogan clotheslines both Busters out. Warlord is #21 and is gone even faster (2 seconds!) at the hands of Hogan. Then Hogan eliminates Bad News and Savage at the same time and….uh oh, Savage isn’t happy. He jumps back in and gets into it with Hogan, with Miss Elizabeth coming in to try and talk sense into both men. They make up and Savage leaves as Big Bossman is in at 22.

-Hogan and Bossman continue their feud, brawling until Akeem comes in at 23. And there’s the payoff for the Slick and Dibiase business deal. Hogan gets eliminated shortly thereafter. Hogan won’t go away like a good sport, so he attacks Bossman for fun. And they wonder why so many kids my age grew up to be sore losers. Brutus Beefcake is 24, and Hogan illegally eliminates Bossman, much to Ventura’s chagrin. Hogan even busts Bossman even with some kind of suitcase.

(sound of record scratch)

-And now, the fun stuff is over. The match slows down to the point of tedium, as all the fast paced fun has died out. From here, it’s Red Rooster at 25, Barbarian at 26, Big John Studd at 27, Hercules at 28, Rick Martel at 29, and Ted Dibiase at 30 (the other half of the payoff). Is it as auspicious a finish as last year? I think they’re tied for dead last, myself.

-Dibiase dumps Rooster. Dibiase and Barbarian then team up and dump Beefcake and Hercules together. Martel then surprises the world by dropkicking Barbarian out.

-FINAL FOUR: Dibiase, Studd, Akeem, and Martel. No, really. Martel gets caught by Akeem and thrown out. Then, because I don’t feel like wasting my fingers any more, a double team on Studd fails which sees the future Hall of Famer throw out Akeem. Then Studd toys with Dibiase for about 40 years before throwing him out, and then he beats up Virgil for fun. So, yeah, Studd wins. He would leave WWF within five months.

RATING: $9.25. The first 2/3 was great stuff, but it dragged once Hogan and Bossman finished their little angle. Nonetheless, an upgrade over last year

TOTAL: $22.50. That’s almost how much a PPV was in 1989, so I guess that’s somewhat reasonable. Just wish the Rumble had a better outcome, and that Warrior/Rude was, you know, an actual match.

CYNIC SAYS: An upgrade over last year’s TV version, but there was still work to be done. It would take many years for WWE to figure out to add more innovative eliminations and creative double teams, but at least they’d mastered the art of mixing existing feuds with new ones beginning (especially Hogan and Savage).

For a great early effort, it’s a thumbs up.

Justin Henry is a freelance writer whose work appears on many websites. He provides wrestling, NFL, and other sports/pop culture columns for, as well as several wrestling columns a week for and Justin can be found here on Facebook – and Twitter-

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