WrestleMania VII: When All Of Kuwait Pulled For Hulk Hogan


I’m writing this from my trusty couch, a mere twelve hours after the conclusion of Elimination Chamber 2010. Jericho-Edge? Cena-Batista? Shawn-Taker? I’m AOK with all of this.

-So it’s March 24, 1991, and we’re located in Los Angeles at the Sports Arena, just mere days after the Rodney King beating. Initially, the show was booked for the LA Coliseum, but poor ticket sales moved the show to a venue 1/5 of the size. WWE internally claimed that it was a “bomb threat” that moved the show indoors, supposedly directed toward Sgt. Slaughter and his anti-American gimmick. Because, you know, moving the show indoors removes the threat of an explosive. If by “bomb threat”, they meant that the show was going to bomb due to the tasteless storyline, then yeah, I understand.

-Vince is really feeling it during the intro video. Sounds like his colon is lined with blisters and he just drank a gallon of Swiss Miss.

-Howard Finkel (#7!) welcomes Willie Nelson, who sings America the Beautiful. I should note that Willie looks splendid in his foam WWF Title belt, Bret Hart sunglasses, and Hulk Hogan bandana. I wore the same outfit around the house when I was eight.

-Since Bobby Heenan has two matches that he has to manage, Gorilla Monsoon is joined on commentary for the opener by Hacksaw Jim Duggan. Call me crazy, but watch this match and I dare you to tell me that Duggan is not competent in the booth. He was clichéd at times, but he never sounded out of place, and kept making solid points. If he’s still in WWE’s employ, cut ties with Lawler, move Striker to Raw, and stick Duggan on Smackdown with Grisham. You can do worse.

-Anyway, the opener features The Rockers taking on Haku and Barbarian, who of course have Heenan in their corner. Lesson to modern tag teams (both of them): just watch the Rockers. They had a tremendous plus (flawless double team moves) and a tremendous negative (easily pummeled by larger foes). They exploited both qualities fully, and they were able to establish the story of their matches without having to detract from their in ring capabilities. Then again, this also explains why Shawn Michaels is as great as he is, singles or tag.

[adinserter block=”1″]-Case in point: Barbarian turns both Rockers inside out with a double clothesline, and the crowd awwwed accordingly. Bravo.

-One of the best double team moves ever: Haku has Jannetty seated on his shoulders in a powerbomb lift, but Barbarian runs in, grabs Marty by the hair and DIVES over the top rope, throating Marty! LUCHA BARBARIAN! I think I may be a fan of his now, seriously.

-Rockers win it as Shawn lands the Ricky Steamboat Memorial “Cross Body FTW” on Haku. You could kind of sense in hindsight that they were getting ready to do more with Shawn. I don’t think anyone has a problem with this.

-Meanwhile, Mean Gene is with the celebrities: Regis Philbin (whom he calls “beautiful”), Marla Maples (whom he shamelessly flirts with), and Alex Trebek. Know what would be hilarious? Imagine those SNL Celebrity Jeopardy skits, but with Hulk Hogan in place of Connery. “I’LL TAKE CATCH THE SEMEN FOR $400, BROTHER!”. Hulk can make anything funny.

-Now to the opposite of “funny”. Dino Bravo and Kerry Von Erich face off in a match of two men who would be dead within two years. Bravo looks like he’s aged about ten years in the previous 365 days here. This is just sad.

-The match sucks as well, as Von Erich wins with the Tornado Punch. I’m just going to move on now. Is that ok?

-Slick cuts a promo with the Warlord backstage, which lifts my spirits. Sadly, Warlord doesn’t have Jive Soul Bro as his theme. It’s like the WWF WANTS to hurt my feelings.

-Meanwhile, Davey Boy Smith gets advice from his bulldog, Winston. Winston just never seemed to have the subtle mannerisms of Matilda, and it stunted his growth as a performer. Where does Winston rank on the scale of wrestling pets? I think the hierarchy goes Damian, Matilda, Lucifer, the cobra that bit Randy Savage, Winston, Frankie, Poison the Tarantula, Pepper the Chihuahua, Ralph the Rabbit, and Brutus Beefcake.

-Warlord vs. Smith bats third in this line-up and, if you listen closely, you can almost hear the Federal Government taking notes during this match.

-Decent power match, as Bulldog was just in a unique place: strong enough to work with the hosses, agile enough to work with the real workers. There’s no telling how far he could have made it if he had a brain in that dreadlocked head of his.

-Heenan cracks a joke about the LAPD, just to provide a ‘sign of the times’ for this card. Shame Big Bossman wasn’t a heel at this point. He could have gotten the push of his career if he’d faced a serious of black jobbers and excessively beat them after the match. Then they could stick him with Virgil and have Virgil get revenge on corrupt law enforcement and win the feud. Hey, it’s not like Vince was above exploiting the news at this point.

-Davey Boy spends two minutes powering out of Warlord’s full nelson, and wins it with the Powerslam. Monsoon states that Bulldog has no quit in him. Unless his brother-in-law gets embarrassed in Montreal. Then, yeah, he’s a quitter. He’ll even pay a penalty fee just to quit. That’s EPIC quit.

-Hart Foundation and Nasty Boys up next in the first title match of the evening. KNOBS IS IN SHAPE! I feel bad for Bret, having to work with three confirmed whackos, but then he rattles off the line “We don’t think you’re nasty, we think you’re scum!”. Get that man a thesaurus!

-Has anyone ever thought to use the Nasty Boys theme for rap remixes?

-Hey, look, Macaulay Culkin is in the crowd! Monsoon says that he wouldn’t want to be “Home Alone with the Nasty Boys” and I get the funny visual of Knobs being hit in the face with a clothing iron.

-Heenan calls Neidhart “Captain Schizo”. That may explain the “Who?” gimmick.

-Who do I feel worse for: Jimmy Hart, who worked in this building at WrestleMania five years prior and still has to take harsh bumps on his frail body, or Jim Neidhart, whose days of leeching off of the Hitman are over when this match ends? It’s a toss-up.

-Sags waffles Neidhart with the motorcycle helmet to give the Nastys the belts. The real winner: Bret Hart, who just lost 280 lbs of increasingly useless fat. I’m sure his sister Ellie was thrilled.

-Next up, Jake Roberts and Rick Martel in a “blindfold” match. Story here is that Jake was blinded by Rick Martel’s atomizer months before, and we even get video of Jake in a treatment room. All of those gritty medical shows on Discovery Health should be giving Vince royalties. I’m not kidding.

-Jake lets us know that he “does it better in the dark”. Great, now I’m blind too.

-So each man is wearing a burlap hood to increase the difficulty of finding your opponent. Some call this a bad match, but it’s actually an exercise in crowd participation. Jake points with his finger and the crowd goes wild when he points directly at Martel. It gets the fans involved, how can it be bad?

-A lot of comedy involves Martel being way off the mark in his attempts to find Jake. For example, he performs an Irish whip, but Jake runs “out of the basepath” on the rebound, and Martel is left waiting like an idiot. Good stuff.

-I like Bobby Heenan, but here’s what annoys me: he tries too hard to pretend that the crowd is deafening. He repeats everything Monsoon says and then acts like he didn’t hear Gorilla say it the first time. It wears thin, and it makes me miss Jesse even more.

-After a lot of non-action, Jake hits the DDT and wins. It’s a better match to watch, than read. Actually, most matches are. I don’t even know why I said it.

-Marla Maples interviews the triumphant Nastys, and gets doused by champagne. Must have had a negative effect, because I believe she dissolved into obscurity after this.

-Next up, Jimmy Snuka wrestles in what really should have been a meaningless squash against….The Undertaker. Yes, this would be the debut of the “streak” that Undertaker would hang much of his resume upon. The crowd is awed as Taker walks out to the ring. Oddly enough, his girlfriend gets the same kind of wooshed ‘hush’ nearly twenty years later, but mostly it’s the sound of 12,000 fans turning on their Droids and Blackberries to see if anyone laughed at the dirty joke they forwarded (“So then Pinocchio says ‘Who needs a girlfriend when you have sandpaper?”).

-You just know that if this match took place in the Attitude era, Undertaker and Paul Bearer would have taunted Snuka with a headstone with the name “Nancy Argentino” on it. Controversy equals ratings, you know.

-Crowd pops for all of Taker’s big moves, like the walking suplex and leaping clothesline. I have a theory that during this match, Vince was backstage writing down possible merchandise ideas to expand upon the money he planned to make off of this guy. Did they ever have Undertaker condoms? Imagine the commercial with Taker’s voice: “COVER YOUR STIFF AND BURY HIM DEEEEEEEEEEEEEP”. Admit it, you smiled.

-Tombstone and Taker wins it. Oddly enough, Monsoon doesn’t declare him “1-0”. What’s with him?

-Next up is one of my all time favorites, with Macho King Randy Savage and The Ultimate Warrior, where the loser has to lay low for a few months and detox himself before the government can subpoena—er, loser has to retire. Oddly enough, when they show the history package before the match, the last entry between them in terms of conflict was over two months prior at the Royal Rumble. Two months with no direct build? Yeah, like THAT would fly now.

-To sweeten the story, Miss Elizabeth is in the crowd, after having been split with Savage for two years. She can’t even get front row ringside. All the good scalpers must’ve finished early.

-If you’re one of the jobbers who has to carry the throne sedan that Savage sits on, do you just give up on your career now? I mean, CM Punk may have had the intestinal fortitude to go from being one of John Cena’s mafia henchmen at WrestleMania 22 to main event level performer, but not everyone does. Clearly not.

-For once, Ultimate Warrior walks to the ring instead of running like a maniac. Psychology? It’s there, believe it or not. I’m doubly sad that Savage’s crown was not at stake. If Warrior won, can you imagine him wearing it? I consoled myself with my old Hasbro figures by putting Savage’s crown on Warrior’s head. Sadly, he didn’t have a hole in his fist to slide the scepter into. Damn it all.

-As a nice change of pace, although both men are going back and forth, they’re doing so deliberately and with caution. It’s not the frenzied fight you’d expect, and certainly not your typical Warrior match. Let’s hear it for the amazing carrying abilities of Macho Man!

-Neat moment, as Warrior has a chance to gorilla press Savage, then simply sets him down just to slap him. That might be the only move of Warrior’s career that’s involved forethought, other than “hook the leg” and “don’t run to the ring like an idiot”.

-Sherri bends over at one point to attack Warrior, and Monsoon bellows “OOOH”. It’s not what you think. It’s not what I think. Is it what I think? Maybe. Speaking of Monsoon, he notes that the news is in: this is the largest PPV audience ever. See? WWF is cutting edge. They can figure out a buyrate DURING the show. Take THAT….uh….people who determine buyrates…..

-Hebner gets bumped and it all breaks down, including Sherri trying a top rope move while shoeless. THAT is one tough woman. But when Warrior’s incapacitated, Savage lands FIVE elbows onto him and Warrior….KICKS OUT! Huh, imagine that.

-Then Warrior gets HIS finishing sequence and SAVAGE kicks out. Crazy good stuff. Then Warrior begins to openly question the Gods in the Heavens above (“Pat Patterson says he CAN make the world work. He can’t be RIGHT, can he?!”) and Savage jumps the epiphanal moment. However, Savage crashes and burns on an ax handle attempt to the floor, and the tide has finally turned.

-Warrior brings Savage in and nails three shoulder blocks to an already dead Savage to end his career. But the aftermath is greater: with Liz distraught in the crowd (having still loved him), she watches as a stunned Sherri berates, and then assaults, the injured Savage. Liz can take no more and finally interjects herself, running in and throwing Sherri to the floor. She tries to help Savage up, and he pushes her away before realizing just who it is. Hebner dragged a screaming Sherri away, and Savage finally pieces it together, realizing that the now-crying Elizabeth was there for him and didn’t want to see him lose his career, let alone be humiliated afterward. The crowd implores Savage to take her back, and, after much deliberation, they embrace in the middle of the ring to an ungodly ovation. I admit, given Savage’s loyalty to her during their marriage, I get a tad bit misty eyed at this part. A number of fans are shown crying their eyes out, proving that this moment definitely struck a chord. Then, to top off the greatness, Savage waves Liz off when she holds the ropes open for him, and then, ironically enough, holds the ropes open for her in a nice touch. This stands alone as the most touchingly beautiful moment in wrestling history, and I pretty much refuse to change my mind.

-Here to kill the mood of the previous moment, Vince McMahon to have a pointless debate about instant replay with George Steinbrenner and Paul McGuire. The only notable occurrence here is Vince being appalled over George’s notion that you just simply fire people. Callously firing others? What LANGUAGE are you speaking, George?

-Bobby Heenan on Savage and Liz’s reunion: “I’d rather have money than a skirt”. No doubt Heenan was an influence on John Mayer, who gets both with little effort.

-To fully let the crowd settle in from the Randy-Liz saga, we go to backstage segments where Undertaker measures Regis for his burial suit (which Taker should do as a backstage prank on wrestlers that are leading the dead pool), and Jake Roberts torments Trebek with Damian (“CAN’T HANDLE A SNAKE, CAN YA TREBEK?! HAW HAW HAW!”). The best part is Jake letting slip that he and Damian play the home version of Jeopardy. Wouldn’t that be great? Drunk Jeopardy? You record everyone’s answers, and then you go on Wikipedia and make the answers fit. That’s just good fun.

-Filler time! Due to WWF’s ties with Genichiro Tenryu’s budding SWS promotion, we have Tenryu and sumo star Koji Kitao facing Demolition. If Demolition were Three’s Company, Ax is Suzanne Somers and Crush is Priscilla Barnes. “COME AND KNOCK ON OUR DOOR, AND WE’LL KICK YOUR TEETH IN!”. Kitao’s famous for backing down from Earthquake after trying to start a shoot with him one week later in Japan. Kitao openly declared wrestling to be fake and was then dismissed from SWS. What’s real, however, is the fact that Kitao has a losing record in MMA. Take that, Sensei No Fun.

-This tag team match is so important that Donald Trump and his cronies have vacated their front row seats. No doubt Tenryu was displeased. You see why Trump never acquired Mitsubishi.

-Other than Heenan making dated stereotype jokes, it’s a nothing match until Tenryu drops Smash with a powerbomb to end it. Monsoon used the word “methodical” twice during the match, which is Gorilla Speak for “slow and sucky”.

-Next, we have the IC Title encounter between Big Bossman and Mr. Perfect. Bossman dedicates the fight to his mother. They missed out by not making Bossman the Norman Bates of pro wrestling. He could have stabbed wrestlers in the shower while dressed in drag. Meanwhile, Perfect and Heenan make Rodney King jokes. I think the footage of the King beating inspired ECW fancam. Note to self: ask Gargiulo to ask Feinstein or Sapolsky if that was the inspiration or not.

-Alfred Hayes joins Monsoon on commentary, and a kid in the front row is wearing a Dick Tracy shirt. Excuse me while I take a moment and try and remember how long my childhood ponytail was as these events took place.

-Know what’s great? Bossman wipes his rump with Perfect’s towel and throws it in his face. Then Bossman proceeds to beat the ever loving crap out of him, with Perfect doing about 25 sells where he spins 360 degrees. I’m enjoying myself too much. I’m almost ashamed.

-Bossman takes his belt off. I’ve made enough Pat Patterson jokes for these reviews, so you can make your own here. Hell, e-mail it to me and I’ll put it in a future rant! I see Trump returned for this match. Way to show your racist tendencies there, Donnie. Should we just ethnically cleanse the crowd while you’re at it?

-Alfred Hayes has no chemistry at all with Monsoon, or anyone for that matter. He keeps making these points, but it just sounds like he was dubbed in over somebody else. Couldn’t we just bring Duggan back out here?

-Andre lumbers down to the ring to counter Heenan’s interference, and gets a sizeable pop doing it. Know what’s sad? Both wrestlers, both commentators, the referee (Joey Marella), and the man running interference are all dead. All that remains is Bobby Heenan, and he’s nearing death with these multiple surgeries. I’m depressed.

-Haku and Barbarian run in to cause the DQ, letting Perfect live to fight another day. Backstage, Bret watched the match while Neidhart openly stated “I think we’re a great team Bret, and we shouldn’t split up! I love you man!”.

-Okerlund interviews some celebrities to kill time: Trump first, and Okerlund asks if we’ll see another Atlantic City WrestleMania (DEAR GOD NO). Then he interviews these three men: Chuck Norris, Henry Winkler, and Lou Ferrigno. Wow. Chuck, The Fonz, and The Hulk. Chuck Norris Fact: Chuck Norris would have not only no-sold Undertaker’s faulty pyro from Elimination Chamber, but would have still been engulfed in flames when he showed up to Raw the next night to beat up Ty Murray for being such a sissy cowboy. It’s true.

-Earthquake and Greg Valentine make their entrances during the celeb lovefest, and a generic four minute match ensues. Earthquake ends it with the sitdown splash. I’m still having daydreams of Norris catching the Earthquake splash, standing up, and powerbombing Quake. I need to stop it with the man-crushes.

-LOD vs. Power and Glory follows, and Sean Mooney is scared of Hawk. Seriously, look at his eyes. He looks like he’s just been dared to pick pocket New Jack while he sleeps.

-It’s over in a minute and Paul Roma gets pinned! Best show ever! Find this match and tell me you don’t laugh when Hercules basically refuses to save Roma from the pin. Even his kayfabe allies hated Paul Roma.

-Now for a match with a story: Ted Dibiase vs. the emancipated Virgil. We get the video of Virgil cleaning Dibiase’s toes (directed by Mel Phillips), as well as obscure jobber Kevin Greeno beating Dibiase by countout. Clearly, this show has everything. I always loved in the freeze-frame promo pictures where it shows the participants in each match, how Dibiase is always laughing loudly with his mouth open. He looks like something out of the final scene of each episode of CHiPs.

-Virgil is over like a mamma jamma, and I wonder why he didn’t add a last name? I mean, just a simple first name sounds like he’s still a faceless lackey. Would “Virgil Harris” be too much to ask?

-Basic heel-face dynamic and the crowd is into it, especially when Dibiase shoves down an injured Roddy Piper (Virgil’s mentor). This gives Heenan a chance to work in “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!”. Way to time stamp the show, Brain.

-Dibiase gets counted out as he tussles with Piper, and then the Million Dollar Man goes nuts on both men, with the help of Sensational Sherri (keeping herself employed). After they ravage Piper and leave, Roddy goes nuts. Speaking of nuts, Piper launches his crutch right in the nuts of Danny Davis. See what happens when you screw over the British Bulldogs? Doctor Virgil Harris, MD, orders Piper to his feet. Who are we to question a career jobber that hasn’t had hair since 1990?

-Meanwhile, Sgt. Slaughter and General Adnan get interviewed. While Adnan rants incoherently, Slaughter bugs his eyes, presumably to hold in his laughter. When Slaughter bugs his eyes out and screams, he’s two blue eyes away from resembling a Garbage Pail Kid. I recommend for a name Mili-TERRY, alias Mess Hall PAUL.

-Got a minute? Good. The Mountie just beat Tito Santana with use of his cattle prod. They didn’t even use the cartoony sound effect for the electrocution! Way to step it up for the biggest show of the year, guys!

-Main event time. Hulk Hogan says he has “new technology” that will enable him to lie without any dignity on Arsenio Hall in a few months.

-Serious question: what’s the criterion for choosing timekeepers for WrestleMania main events? Is it a three question test? “Can you ring a bell? Can you work a stopwatch? Are you reasonably hot?”. Then again, Jonathan Taylor Thomas was a timekeeper once, but there’s a chance that WWE just thought he was Valerie Bertinelli.

-While I’m being sardonic, I love how Slaughter’s theme is just a drum beat. Did they do the drumroll for three minutes, or did they record seven seconds and just loop it? It’s a reasonable question.

-Match is fairly generic in the early going, but then Slaughter tries to stomp the hand and misses completely. It’s a metaphor for WWF in general: they had a simple idea (booking Hogan/Warrior for WM7) and failed completely, and thus looked bad.

[adinserter block=”2″]-Regis joins the commentary team and says “I think the Brain is for Slaughter!”. Somebody clue him in on the intricate subtleties of face/heel bias?

-Hogan goes for a middle rope move, Adnan grabs his leg, and then lets go when Hogan stares him down. Then Hogan tries a top rope move, Adnan grabs the leg, and they incorporate it into the match. This is what happens when you rely on a make-believe Indian wrestler from the 1970’s to get spots right in a WrestleMania main event. There’s a reason Adnan was gone by the end of the year.

-Hey look, Hulk blades on camera! Or the pain from the chair shot was so bad that he chose to gouge at his own forehead in agony.

-Slaughter tries to pin Hogan with the Iraqi flag draped overtop, but then Hulk kicks out and destroys the flag. I guess Hogan was against liberating the country in 2003? Hogan finishes with the usual for his third World Title, and then uses an American flag given to him by a fan to wipe the blood off. Does Hogan hate America too? Is he a sovereign county with his own laws? Probably.

-CYNIC SAYS: A damn fine show, actually. Two great tag team matches, two good singles title matches (Yes, Hogan/Slaughter was “good”), and Warrior/Savage was a memorable half hour. With a minimum of fodder, WrestleMania VII is extremely watchable, once you get past the tasteless Iraq storyline.

Next time, Justin lives out his dream of reviewing a Skinner match, and Ric Flair does a crappy bladejob. It’s WrestleMania VIII!

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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