WWE | Pro Wrestling

WrestleMania VI: Hey Hulk, I Double Dare Ya To Job

-Did you know that narcolepsy is an inherited disorder? I just inherited it from WrestleMania’s IV and V. Good lord, if those shows were any more sleep-inducing, I’d just play them for my future infant kids when they get colicky.

-But THIS is more like it: the first WrestleMania that I watched as a fan. Well, I didn’t actually “watch” it, but rather my brother Josh figured out that if you turn to the PPV channel, you can “listen” to it and still keep up with the action in real time, though the picture was scrambled. Although we occasionally ordered the shows, we would continue this money saving tradition until shortly after Backlash 2002, when everything went digital. See? Science is screwing us over. Finally, I agree with Pat Buchanan on something.

-So here we are, April 1, 1990, live from the Skydome in Toronto, Ontario. It’s a beautiful venue that fit 67,678 fans in on this day. In 2005, the building would be renamed “The Rogers Centre”, because Canadians like for their venues to be as bland as the people. KIDDING! Though everytime I think of The Skydome, I think of how Phillies’ reliever Mitch Williams gave up a three run homer to Joe Carter of the Blue Jays in the 1993 World Series ANDIJUSTGETSOPISSEDOFFTHATIWANNASCREAM! DAMN YOU MITCH WILLIAMS! YOU KILLED MY CHILDHOOD! I THINK I WOULD HAVE BEEN A MURDEROUS SOCIOPATH IF BRAD LIDGE DIDN’T SEAL THE DEAL IN 2008 YOU MULLETED JACKASS! Not that I was a bitter kid, or anything.

-To open the show, we have a bizarre sprawling video of a starry sky, featuring two constellations: Hulk Hogan (baldius nosellera) and Ultimate Warrior (Republicanio exhaustior). It’s voiced over by Vince McMahon, who sounds like he’s squeezing a rolling pin through his bowels. Why hasn’t this been a source for parody yet? I guess it wasn’t as remembered as prominently.

-The final WrestleMania for Jesse Ventura, as he and Gorilla Monsoon are paired one last time. *sniff*

-Here to sing “Oh Canada”, ROBERT MOFOING GOULET! We need Will Ferrell to host Monday Night Raw as Goulet. “I don’t care if he is the Chick Magnet. Can he croon? I CAME TO PLAAAAAAAAAAAY…..”

-#6 for the Fink. AND THE RING CARTS ARE BACK! Once, all it took for Homer Simpson to have the best day of his life was to find a penny on the carpet, and I think I’m just about there.

-To kick things off, it’s some early filler with Koko B Ware and Rick “The Model” Martel. Koko has his parakeet Frankie with him, which leads Monsoon to say “Koko doing the bird, I love it!”. I’m disgusted. Unless it was Ice T’s wife, Coco, in which case, it’s kinda kinky.

-It’s a decent match to start the show, as both men are more than passable in the ring, but we really could use a storyline here. Why not have Martel spray the bird with his “Arrogance” atomizer? PETA can protest Martel, and he can get more cheap heat by wearing minks and leather. He’s an evil model who hurts animals! It’s like Zoolander meets Michael Vick!

-Martel is proof that being a cowardly heel is easier than being a virtuous good guy. At least when you’re playing the fool, you can do simple tricks to get the fans to laugh at you. It’s harder as a good guy because, as a rule, fans have a hard time getting behind a goody goody, like Martel was in Strike Force. Case in point, Martel just flopped without being hit by Koko, because he was too exhausted to stand, and the crowd ate it up. It’s just simple.

-Martel ducks a Koko crossbody and wins it with the Quebec Crab. Good use of four minutes to get the fans excited, and it set a good tone for the night.

-Mean Gene interviews the Colossal Connection (and calls them “Colostomy” just for a gag). Has there ever been a tag team as sheerly cool as them? Andre the Giant and Haku managed by Bobby Heenan? It’s like Batman and John Shaft join forces under the guidance of Christopher Walken. Who needs a UN when those three can enforce world law?

-Demolition rebuts. They snarl a lot. God, I loved Demolition.

-So it’s the Connection defending the Tag Team Titles against the Demos. Ventura says Andre “bulked up” for this match, as if drinking expensive vodka is a sound training regimen. Well, it worked for David Wells. Sadly, Haku carries this match, as Andre never “tags in”, instead doing a couple of run-ins (waddle-ins?) to keep himself involved. Sad to see him so immobile here, in all seriousness.

-Cute spot, as Heenan pimp slaps Ax behind the referee’s back, and then rubs his hand on the apron skirting to get the paint off and conceal his crime. It’s those little things that set my heart aglow.

-Crowd is extremely alive, especially after the hot tag to Smash. Contrast this to one year earlier, when the Atlantic City fans looked like they were attending a seminar on stealthiness. Smash cleans house with Haku, and Ax helps him with some double teams to really get the fans on their feet. Remember when fans would just go crazy because they were at a wrestling show and it was fun to do? What happened to today’s fans? Spoiled brats, if you ask me.

-Great ending, as Haku misses a savate kick and knocks Andre into the ropes. With Andre tied up, the Demos quickly double team Haku and hit Decapitation to claim their third Tag Team Titles. Exciting match, limited as the action was, and the fans ate it up. Meanwhile, a 16 year old kid in the crowd with really shiny teeth said “Yeah, well, wait till I win EIGHT Tag Team titles with my fictional brother! That’ll so TOTALLY reek of awesomeness!”. You know this happened.

-Afterward, Andre takes a browbeating from Heenan (“I’M THE F&#%ING BOSS!”, unbleeped), who then slaps the Giant. Andre destroys both Heenan and Haku before riding off on the cart to a thunderous ovation. That’s how I wanna go out. Not as a hero, but riding a motorized cart designed like a wrestling ring. Can I RENT one of them somewhere? All kidding aside, a fitting end to a great career for Andre the Giant, who is sorely missed by all.

-Next up, Earthquake and Hercules in a battle of “Names that sound epic and exciting”. The DeLorean sounded exciting, too.

-Tacky note: in 2005, after Hurricane Katrina, The Hurricane turned heel and became Gregory Helms again. Some speculate that given the loss of life and controversy surrounding the storm, that the gimmick change was to remove any possible negative connotation. If John Tenta were still alive and active, do you think he’d abandon the Earthquake name in the wake of the Haitian disaster? Good thing there was never a wrestler named Tsunami Smith. Or Chris Benoit.

-Ventura notes that ‘Quake has sent 28 men to the hospital. That’s appalling. Not that he sent 28 men to receive treatment, but the fact that Ventura said, “hospital” and not “medical facility”. How dare he! There’s a list of banned words, you wannabe actor! No wonder Ventura fell off the face of the Earth months later.

-As the two men exchange generic power moves, I noticed the subtle placement of this match: as Andre rides off into the sunset, Earthquake comes in and destroys a powerful opponent. Out with the old, in with the new. Say what you will about Vince, but he’s no dummy. Build the next guy up.

-Quake wins it with the Earthquake splash. Afterward, we get a slo-mo replay of the running splash, which reminds me of the slo-mo footage of Homer swinging the baseball bat, where his fat rolls formed waves around his body. Not slagging the big man, but it was a neat visual.

-Since I’m linking this to the WrestleCrap boards, if RD Reynolds gives this a read, I hope he smiles.

-Rona Barrett (alleged celebrity gossip columnist) interviews Elizabeth. “So, Liz, how many times has Randy locked you in the janitor’s closet when he had a match….”

-Brutus Beefcake and Mr. Perfect are next, and it’s the Mania debut of Perfect’s classic theme. I used to play the MP3 and practice throwing my towel behind my back. No joke.

-Here’s the perfect (pun intended) match: Perfect’s overselling and Beefcake’s comedic reactions. It’s like a slapstick In Loving Color sketch with athleticism.

-Ventura doesn’t believe that Mr. Perfect has a weak spot. That’s not what the coroner said.

-Perfect smashes Beefcake with The Genius’ scroll. I love when managers had character-specific weapons. Genius had the scroll, Jimmy Hart had the megaphone, Slick had his cane, and Terri Runnels had the bulimia bucket.

-The match trickles to a slow finish, with Beefcake slingshotting Perfect into the post, knocking him cold for the win. And just for fun, Beefcake gives The Genius a haircut. Ever notice that Perfect never ever tried to save Genius? Why would Genius hang with a guy who let him get pummeled? Doesn’t sound very Genius-ish to me.

-Now for Rowdy Roddy Piper and Bad News Brown. Nice of Piper to do his best Ted Danson impression. And if you don’t know, don’t ask.

-A banner in the crowd reads “PIPER FOR PRIME MINISTER”. Why, that would imply that Piper’s Canadian. He’s SCOTTISH! He’s wearing a kilt, isn’t he? Jesse can’t even bash Piper, because they have a TV pilot coming out. Business first, after all.

-Piper dances a bit to further annoy the NAACP.

-Monsoon notes that the crowd is a little hushed. Well, you have an angry black man beating up a man who painted half of his body black as a psyche-out tactic. I think I’d be a bit pensive myself.

-Just to annoy me further, someone in the crowd is playing some sort of 8-bit sounding music box. Then, to top that, Piper puts on a Michael Jackson white glove over his “black” hand. You can bet that this match is far from “well thought out” and “overbooked”.

-Ooh, a non finish! Double countout! Well, at least it’s over.

-Steve Allen makes an appearance to make me feel clean over that last debacle. He does some dated vaudeville jokes with the Bolsheviks, but who cares? It’s Steve Allen! If everyone in WWE now had his comic timing, I might laugh WITH the action and not AT it.

-Hart Foundation. Bolsheviks. 19 seconds. Harts win. YAY BRET! Works for me. The only other note is when Nikolai Volkoff goes to sing and Monsoon says “I’m not rising”. Badly sung anthems make Monsoon impotent? Who knew?

-After a weird edit, we jump to The Barbarian vs. Tito Santana. That’s the problem with this era. A lot of matches in this time period seem to be just thrown together. Not only would most fans not spend $50 on this show in 2010, they wouldn’t have enough energy to download the torrent.

-Nice of Tito to get the “I’m totally jobbing, but here’s some encouraging words anyway” promo.

-If Piper’s antics weren’t enough, here’s some dysentery jokes from Ventura regarding Santana’s cooking. Coming soon: Vince gives a spear to Tony Atlas and tells him to get in touch with his roots! Wait, he did that?

-Barbarian avoids being pinned after Heenan places his foot on the rope following the flying forearm, and then Barbarian wins with a WICKED flying clothesline. Crowd dug that finish. Still, too short to really be of worth.

-Next, it’s the first intergender match in WrestleMania history, as Dusty Rhodes and Sapphire take on Macho King Randy Savage and Queen Sherri. Savage and Sherri get a cool entrance with an elevated ring cart to simulate a throne. Sherri looks awesome in her Queen of Hearts outfit, but still, why am I even bothering with this match?

-OOOH YEAH, ELIZABETH IS HERE! Umm, you may be noticing a trend about me…..

-To the fan who brought the “Sapphire is a gem” sign, how many cats DO you live with? 15? 37? This is sad. Savage and Liz are both here and I’m not even enthused. I mean, I know Sapphire was brought in as a way of burying Dusty and killing his spirit, but why should we have to be punished? No wonder we grew up to be so cynical.

-Sapphire’s definitely putting Jenna Morasca to shame, and that’s saying something. Savage and Sherri are bumping for 12 in there, and it looks like they’re having fun, so that’s a plus. I guess.

-Savage is dishing out Ax Handles like they’re going out of style. Can’t pin Rhodes with em though, because you’re talking about a guy who blades like it’s going out of style. Irresistible force, immovable object, etc.

-To hear Jesse go back and forth with the rules in this match, you see why politics came naturally to him.

-STUNNER BY SAPPHIRE OFF OF DUSTY’S SHOULDERS! WORKRATE!

-Sapphire pins Sherri after Liz shoves the Queen into a low bridge tactic. I admit, it wasn’t as bad as I remembered it being. I’m getting soft in my old age. By the time we get to WrestleMania XV, I might be too kind to properly condemn Russo……..naaaah.

-Mmm, Liz dancing and shaking her butt. Sorry.

-Bobby Heenan cuts an irate promo over Andre’s turn, which is weird because he seemed normal during Barbarian’s match earlier. That’s like a TNA production gaffe. Rest assured, Vince had a serious talk with Kevin Dunn and the henchmen after that one.

-Rona Barrett reveals that she has tried to get some inside dirt on WWF’s superstars, but it was hard because “they have such clean images”. Heh, imagine that. She does, however, reveal that she has some X-rated video of Jesse Ventura, and Jesse immediately throws it to the next segment. Monsoon saying “I wanna see the footage!” with a serious expression is just one of those priceless moments.

-Savage rants angrily. While wearing his crown. Total pro.

-What’s up with the weird edits on this show? It’s like they’re trying to hide something. You know, like an advertisement for an outdoor PPV that would hypothetically draw 100,000 fans, only to later have to change the venue because they’d booked the main event scene into oblivion. Of course, that’s just one theory.

-Meanwhile, Hogan tells Warrior that he can save him. He’s CM Hulk!

-Warrior cuts an equally rambling response. Would anyone object to Orton and Cena giving up their robotic delivery to cut nonsensical rants on each other? It’s fine with me.

-Rockers vs. Orient Express follows the lengthy break. Just to show that it’s 1990, we get a shot of a chick in a half-beater and Ally Sheedy mop in the crowd for when the Rockers make their entrance. It’s like the WWF WANTED you to know who the ring rats were there for.

-Finally, some fast paced action, as The Rockers showcase their in-sync double teams, including a double plancha. Then Marty does an awesome sell of Sato shoving him into the post. Monsoon says Shawn’s not even going over to help Marty because “he knows what his partner’s capable of”. Or maybe he was busy looking for Ally Sheedy in the third row and not paying attention.

-Tatanka with a great hesitation turning forearm smash. Think, if Tanaka was just ten years younger, he’d get the enviable chance to play Kung Fu Tanaka on Smackdown. Shame that he missed out.

-Hot tag to Marty and the crowd is still into it, despite being over 2 hours into the show. Eat it, Atlantic City. Marty gets blinded by Sato with salt, and then Jannetty stumbles over the rail in pain, taking the count out loss. The fans are so sympathetic that they take pictures of him as he lays prone. Nice of them. Well, Shawn Michaels is now 0-2 at the big event. MR. WrestleMania!

-Meanwhile, Steve Allen shoots on Rhythm and Blues. Because he can.

-Hacksaw Jim Duggan and Dino Bravo are here to waste time. Bravo has Earthquake in his corner, and Monsoon says this can’t be because he has no manager’s license: “Because he’s a wrestler, and you can’t hold both licenses”. Man, the Attitude Era would go on to make Gino look dumb, wouldn’t they?

-Duggan tries starting a “USA” chant in Toronto. No one ever called him a genius, ya know.

-I finally figured out why I don’t like Dino Bravo. He’s like a hybrid of Bruce Hart and Chris Masters, except even blander. Crowd’s into it mostly, but you can sense that they’re just waiting for the main event to get here. Makes me glad that they staggered things out in later years to have more epic feuds and such.

-Hacksaw pulls a Cena and overcomes three on one odds to defeat Bravo. BASIC DUGGANOMICS! WORD LIFE! Earthquake beats Duggan down afterward, to amuse xenophobic Canadians everywhere. Monsoon gives me a cheap laugh by announcing one of Earthquake’s sitdown splashes on Duggan as a replay, when it was actually Quake hitting the move in real time.

-Footage of the Ted Dibiase-Jake Roberts feud and what led them to the first televised defense of the Million Dollar Title. So there’s definitely some history here. Am I the only one who thinks the belt looks better than Cena’s spinner title? I can’t be the only one. Also, the debut of Dibiase’s Million Dollar Rap, so it’s good stuff all around.

-Meanwhile, Jake cuts a classic psychological promo, promising that he will ironically make Dibiase beg for his own money. Great stuff, and a bigger shame when you see what Jake fell to.

-Typical “good match” for Jake, which features heavy psychology, but can be really slow. I’ll bet that Jake learned how to use psychology just so he won’t have to work a fast pace. It’s hard to to go breakneck speed when you’re loaded on Old Milwaukee, you know.

-The pace dies off, and the fans commemorate this occasion by doing the wave. Fans should start doing the wave whenever Drew McIntyre makes his entrance. That’ll teach that overgrown Noah Wyle to take menacing babysteps to the ring all the time.

-The wave seems to have woken the crowd up, and are firmly behind Jake. Unfortunately, they squander that heat with a countout win for Dibiase. Then for fun, Jake beats up Dibiase and gives some of Dibiase’s money to the ringsiders , including Mary Tyler Moore. It’s like Million Dollar Mania, except Jake is less senile than Vince McMahon. You think I’m kidding?

-Slick promo. Justin’s happy.

-Big Bossman and Akeem is next. Despite Dibiase attacking Bossman before the match, the prison guard finishes off The White Man Gang in about a minute and a half. Well, so much for that.

-To sum up the next fifteen minutes: Mary Tyler Moore spurns Sean Mooney’s advances, DDP makes his WWF debut albeit obscurely, Rhythm and Blues sing a crappy song, The Bushwhackers impersonate The Who, and Howard Finkel announces the attendance. It’s like the plot of a David Lynch movie, except without a midget serving pancakes to a rodeo clown.

-Jimmy Snuka and Rick Rude provide the final fodder before the main event, and Steve Allen joins on commentary to talk about how ugly Jimmy Snuka is. Careful, Steve. There’s no telling what Snuka can do when his mind is impaired.

-I don’t want to see Snuka do the hip swivel ever again. Speaking of TMI, did you know that Steve Allen’s wife wears Snuka’s tights as underwear? Hey, he said it, not me.

-Rude Awakening ends it. I like Rude, but let’s get to the mainer already.

-Hogan-Warrior highlight package. I remember vividly, twenty years ago, that Josh was firmly behind Hogan and I behind Warrior, and how excited we both were for the match. I also remember Josh taking his shower during Rhythm and Blues’ mini concert, so I also remember Josh being smarter than me.

-Warrior runs the length of the aisle instead of taking the cart. Idiot. Hogan waves off the cart as well, walking though instead of running. The fans are 50/50 here and that made for a crazy good dynamic. God, I feel like I’m six years old all over again. I remembered thinking how weird it would be if Hogan had the IC Title. Even when I was six, I was savvy enough to find plot holes in certain aspects of the booking.

-Shovefest to start, which also reveals crowd sensibilities. Warrior has the fan’s edge, because he’s the fresher name and fans want to see somebody new take the crown. Then they go into the test of strength and the fans are INTO it. Hogan drops to his knees and the collective gasp of shock is incredible. Then Hogan reverses it, dropping Warrior to HIS knees, and the crowd eats that up as well. Never before has an immobile rest hold been so enjoyed by a crowd.

-Criss cross, Hogan slam, Warrior no sell, criss cross, Warrior slam, Hogan’s in pain. Ooooh man. Then Hogan gets clotheslined out, hurting his knee. THE TITLE IS IN JEOPARDY!

-As a change of pace from last year, Ventura’s behaving himself and not slagging Hogan for having the audacity to make everyone rich. Good boy, Jesse. There’s hope for you yet.

-It gets dirty as Hogan and Warrior go to eye gouges and chokes to show the heightened level of tension that can only come from a title for title match.

-Warrior is getting weakened from Hogan punches, slams, and elbows, and manages to kick out on two. Then Hogan goes to a small package(!!!) to get another two. See? Hogan could dominate Ring of Honor if he wanted to.

-Hogan even busts out a backbreaker, and then a chinlock with added knees to the back. Weird seeing Hogan do the work in the heat segment. Even as a kid, I recognized that Hogan would take the beating and come back from it, so this was practically a revelation for six year old Justin.

-Crowd is still divided. No true face and no true heel. And the crowd “ahhhhs” at the double clothesline. The threat of a double count out is teased. But a Canadian PPV can’t end with Hebner making a questionable decision, can it?

-Warrior’s getting his second and third wind combined, no selling Hogan and and destroying him with clotheslines. Hogan collapses at the feet of Warrior, as you can sense that the Hulkster has met his match.

-Warrior goes into a bear hug, and the crowd doesn’t even deflate. When a match is as epic in feel as this, even the rest holds can’t kill the crowd.

-REF BUMP! In the pre-Russo era, when the ref got bumped, it was shocking and special. Damn you, Russo. Warrior lands some ax handles as Hogan is in deep trouble. But yet, he counters the shoulder block by slamming Warrior head first into the mat. Nobody to count however. Warrior then gets a back suplex, and there’s still no Hebner. It’s hair-tearing tension here. Hebner alive….BUT COUNTS TWO. Hogan gets a roll up….FOR TWO. I’ve seen this match hundreds of times and I’m still full of adrenaline.

-Warrior gets the gorilla press and big splash…FOR TWO. Hogan hulks up! 3 punches! Big boot! LEG DROP MISSES! WARRIOR WITH THE BIG SPLASH AND HE PINS HIM! WARRIOR BEATS HOGAN!

-Errmm, sorry, freakout moment.

-GREAT match, and proof positive that airtight booking between two larger-than-life stars can yield great results. Hogan hands over the title and puts Warrior over to the crowd. Sadly, we never got a rematch. Unless you count that abomination in WCW. Vince was NUTS for not doing the rematch at WrestleMania VII.

-CYNIC SAYS: It was like WrestleMania V in that it was a mostly dead undercard, but the crowd made it special and fun. Plus, it was the first WrestleMania of my childhood, so I may be a wee bit biased toward it.

If you’ve never seen it, you owe it to yourself to check it out.

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

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Justin Henry

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

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