The Time: March 24th, 1991
The Place: The Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena
The Commentators: Gorilla Monsoon, to be joined by Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, a couple of guest commentators.
- WWF Heavyweight Champion: Sgt. Slaughter (heel)
- WWF Tag Team Champions: The Hart Foundation (Bret “Hitman” Hart & Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart) (faces)
- WWF Intercontinetal Champion: “Mr. Perfect” Curt Hennig (heel)
- WWF Womens Championship: Inactive
Being that Wrestlemania is stateside again, we start off the show with a performance of “America The Beautiful,” this time by Willie Nelson. Jesse Ventura split ties for the WWF between the last Wrestlemania and this one, leading to Monsoon going with a series of Guest Commentators over the evening – sort of, we do get one color guy for most of the show, but we have a few guests pop in, like our first match of the evening – with “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan on commentary.
[The Rockers (Shawn Michaels & Marty Jannetty) vs The Barbarian & Haku w/ Bobby “The Brain” Heenan
Shawn and Haku start out and circle up, with Haku taking control early on with some strikes., Shawn regains control with a flying shoulder block and works Haku over a bit before tagging in Marty. The Rockers double hip toss Haku, who manages to make the tag. Barbarian comes in with a double lariat, only to get nailed with a double super kick by the Rockers.
Heenan’s team moves outside to regroup, briefly, before returning to the ring. Barbarian tries to cast Marty as the Ricky Morton, finally going for a powerbomb, only to have Shawn hit a standing drop kick to the back, giving Marty the momentum he needs to get a hurricanrana on Barbarian for a 2-count.
Barbarian makes the tag to Haku, and works Marty over again, guillotining him on the top rope. Haku hits a pair of backbreakers on Marty and tags in the Barbarian, who gets a 2-count. Marty goes for a flying shoulder block but Barbarian reverses it to a power slam. Barbarian goes up top for a splash, but Marty rolls out of the way.
Haku and Shawn get the tags, and Shawn comes in like a House! En! Fuego! Shawn gets some mounted turnbuckle punches in on Haku before hitting a crossbody on Barbarian. Neckbreaker on Haku for 2. Jannetty comes in as does Barbarian, with all 4 men in the ring. Barbarian is thrown out, with Marty hitting a missile dropkick and Shawn a cross-body for the pin.
Winner: The Rockers by pinfall with a flying cross-body at 10:33.
Rating: *** – Nice opening match.
Duggan leaves the announce table to make room for Heenan. Meanwhile we go backstage to an Okerlund interview with our celebrity guests of the evening – Regis Philbin, Martha Maples, and Alec Trebek.
Dino Bravo w/ “The Mouth of the South” Jimmy Hart vs. “The Texas Tornado” Kerry Von Erich
This is Kerry Von Erich’s Wrestlemania debut.
Dino, like usual, jumps Kerry before the bell, hell, before Kerry can take his robe off. They brawl in and out of the wring, with Kerry retaining control with an Atomic Drop. Kerry betas Dino around the ring for a bit, before Dino regains control with a reversed Irish Whip. Dino gets a 2-count off a knee drop.
Dino hits his finisher, a Sidewalk Slam (which Gorilla calls a “Side Suplex”) and covers for 2. Dino continues working over Kerry, going to the 2nd rope and going for an standing elbow, only to have it reversed into the Von Erich Iron Claw ™ followed shortly thereafter by the Flying Tornado (running discus punch) for the pin.
Winner: Kerry Von Erich by pinfall with the Flying Tornado at 3:11.
Rating: * – I know a squash when I see one, and I’m looking at one right now. Dino, you’ve just been berried!
We now go to Sean Mooney, who is backstage with the Warlord and his manager, Slick who cut a promo on “The British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith (Dynamite left the WWF due to his multiple injuries). We then go to Okerlund, who is with Davey Boy, who has a promo of his own.
“The British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith vs. Warlord w/ Slick
Warlord and Bulldog lock up and then break off. Warlord gets leveled with a series of running shoulder blocks. Warlord rolls out of the ring to regroup, then comes back in and regains control after reversing a crucifix. Smith gets worked over for a bit, before breaking out of a bear hug. Warlord reverses a Lou Thesz press into a Stun Gun for 2.
Both men exchange blows, with Warlord regaining control with a reverse gutwrench slam. Warlord locks on a chin lock! My God, we have wrestling holds! Smith breaks out, drop kicks Warlord into the corner, and starts slamming his head into the top turnbuckle and all is right with the world. Bulldog hits a 2nd rope double axe handle and a flying crossbody for 1. Bulldog goes for a piledriver, which is reversed into a back drop, into a sunset flip, into a pin, and into another pin for a 2-count by Smith. What’s chain wrestling doing here?
Warlord regains control by reversing a corner splash, and manages to lock in a full nelson, his finisher, but he fails to interlace his fingers, so Smith can lock out and hit the Running Powerslam for the pin.
Winner: Davey Boy Smith by pinfall with the Running Powerslam at 8:15.
Rating: **** – Holy shit, we got a good match with the Warlord. A very underrated match.
After the match, we go to Okerlund with Jimmy Hart and the Nasty Boys, who cut a promo on the Hart Foundation, before using Gene’s handkerchief without permission.
WWF Tag Team Championship – The Nasty Boys (Jerry Sags & Brian Knobbs) w/ Jimmy Hart vs. The Hart Foundation (Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart and Bret “Hitman” Hart) (c)
This is the Wrestlemania debut of the Nasty Boys. This match could be interesting. The Nasty Boys can’t particularly wrestle particularly well, but they brawl like nobody’s business. The Hart Foundation can do both. Bret and Sags start. The Nasty boys gain control early on, with Bret auditioning for Ricky Morton before Bret takes out Sags and sending Knobbs to the outside. Bret dominates for a bit, before Sags manages to tag in Knobbs.
Knobbs wants to fight Jim, so Bret tags him in. Both men trade blows before Jim sends Knobbs to the outside. Anvil starts working over Knobbs arm, but Knobbs manages to tag in Sags, and Jim briefly finds himself playing the role of Ricky Morton. Jim decides that the role isn’t a fit and that Bret is far better at it than he, and makes the tag. Bret gets some offense in, including turnbuckle punches, before Knobbs gets tagged in.
Knobbs gets in his blows, before tagging in Sags, who locks on a seated chinlock. Bret manages to break out, only to get shut down and then (after a tag) getting the same hold locked on him by Knobbs. The Nasty boys continue working over Bret, getting a 2-count off an elbow drop. Bret gets caught in the hold again, but Bret manages to get out with some sort of slam, only to have The Nasties shut him down before he can make the tag. This goes on for a bit, before Bret finally manages to tag in Jim. Jim comes in and cleans house, with Jim and Knobbs fighting within the ring, Bret and James without. Jim sends Knobbs for the ride, and Bret sends Sags in for the collision. The Hart foundation goes for the Hart attack, but the ref is too busy chewing out Bret to count the pin, so Knobbs can break up the pin with Jimmy Hart’s motorcycle helmet and roll Sags on top for 3.
Winner: The Nasty Boys through Shenanigans at 12:08 and are the new WWF Tag Team Champions.
Rating: *** – It goes to show that the Hart Foundation can get a decent match out of almost anyone.
We ghen get a recap of the feud between “The Model” Rick Martel and Jake “The Snake” Roberts. Apparently Martel blinded Jake when he sprayed perfume in his eyes, after Jake stopped Martel from spraying perfume on Damien. I am not making this up. Jake has since recovered his vision, and is facing Rick in a blindfold match.
Blindfold Match – Jake “The Snake” Roberts vs. “The Model” Rick Martel
This is the kind of match that nobody does for a while, and then somebody digs it out because they wonder why, and then everyone remembers why because the match pretty much sucks. Yeah, my expectations are low. Jake and Martel circle the ring trying to find each other. They manage to grapple for a bit, before Martel sends Jake for the ride and goes for a back drop, only to have Jake kind of trot around him. The guys grope their way around the ring, trying to find the other party. Martel manages to slam Jake, but Jake gets up before Martel can drop an elbow. Jake, thinking quickly, claps his hands to lure Martel over to one side of the ring, then circles around the ring to (hopefully) attack Martel from behind. Fortunately, Martel being evil, and in wrestling, evil meaning dumb, this plan works.
At this point I notice a hidden highlight by Jake. Jake uses what I could best describe as radar. Jake, points his arm, moving it across the ring in an arc. When Jake points at the heel, the crowd pops, meaning he knows in what way to attack. Clever. Jake ends up being sent to the outside, and Martel follows. Jake goes a quarter of the way around the ring, and then rolls back in, while Martel grabs a chair and tries to probe for Jake. Martel takes a swing at a ring post, and hurts his fingers. Jake hears Martel’s cursing, and drags Martel into the ring. Martel hits a back breaker and applies a Boston crab. Jake breaks out, sending Martel into the ring post shoulder first. Jake finds him quickly, and hits the DDT for the pin.
Winner: Jake “The Snake” Roberts by pinfall at 8:34.
Rating: *** – Actually halfway decent, but I’m getting the vibe that this is the exception, and not the rule.
Meanwhile, Jimmy Hart’s stable is celebrating backstage. They should celebrate, as they haven’t particularly won a major win in about 3-4 Wrestlemanias.
“Superfly” Jimmy Snucka vs. The Undertaker w/ Paul Bearer
This is the Wrestlemania debut of The Undertaker. Snuka has appeared to have grown a beard in the year since his last appearance.
Taker stares down Snuka before pounding the shit out of the guy. Snucka sells this like, well, death. ‘Taker gets some good offense in, including my first appearance of his leaping Lariat (which still looks impressive today), and a vertical suplex from the apron to the inside. Finally, Snuka goes for a springboard crossbody, only to get caught and Tombstoned.
Winner: The Undertaker (as if there was any doubt) by pinfall with the Tombstone Piledriver at 4:15.
Rating: * – Is it anti-climactic if it’s the start of the winning streak. By the way, who the hell did Snuka piss off backstage to become Jobber To The Stars? Jimmy, I love you like a brother, but you might want to consider heading to the indy circuit now, because any hopes you have of getting back to the Main event (or even the upper midcard) can Rest! In! Peace!
After the match, we get a recap of the “Macho King” Randy Savage vs. Ultimate Warrior feud. The feud, unlike the Martel/Roberts feud, actually is pretty standard – Warrior didn’t give Savage a title shot, so Savage cost Warrior the title to Slaughter at the Royal Rumble.
Loser Must Retire – “Macho King” Randy Savage w/ Sensational Queen Sherri vs. The Ultimate Warrior
As Save and Sherry come out to the ring, we see that The Lovely Elizabeth has a ringside seat along the entrance aisle. This probably isn’t going to come up later. The Warrior, on the other hand, walks out to the ring, unlike his usual sprint.
Both men lock up and Savage forces warrior to the ropes, and Warrior shoves Savage halfway across the ring. Both men trade strikes, with Warrior ultimately landing a series of big atomic drops to gain control. Savage regains control with a big Laria, and goes up for a cross body, but gets caught. Warrior gently sets Savage down, and slaps him across the face. You got bitch-slapped! (clap, clap, clap-clap-clap)
Savage gets beaten from pillar to post before Savage finally gets Warrior outside the ring, where Sherri can distract Warrior, so Savage can connect with his flying double-axe handle, repeatedly. Savage beats Warrior outside the ring, and then sends him in for a 2 count off a body slam. Warrior lands a few moves before going for the Warrior Splash and missing . Savage locks on a reverse chin lock, but Warrior powers out and both men end up lariating each other. Warrior rolls up savage, but the ref is distracted. Savage sends Warrior to the ropes, who collides with the ref, giving us our first ref bump of the night. Savage holds Warrior so Sherri can go up top with her shoe, for a flying shoe strike, only for Warrior to evade so Savage gets struck. Warrior goes after Sherri, but Savage rolls up Warrior for 2. Savage continues to work over Warrior. Savage goes up again for a series of 5 flying elbow drops before going for the pin, and only getting a 2-count.
Warrior Summons The Power Of The Warriors, hits a series of lariats, and goes for the press slam and splash for 2. This concerns the Warrior, ’cause that’s usually all he wrote (though he normally can’t write much more than that), and it doesn’t help that his distraction allows Savage to attack him from behind. Warrior regains control and running shoulder-blocks Savage out of the ring a few times before going for the cocky pin and getting the win.
Winner: The Ultimate Warrior by pinfall with a series of running shoulder blocks at 20:48.
Rating: ** – Very, very meh.
After the match, Sherri turns on Savage, smacks him around for a bit, before Elizabeth runs in for the save. Savage and Elizabeth have a tearful reunion, before leaving the ring together, with Savage now a face once again.
We then go backstage to our intermission time-killing interviews, first with Regis Philbin and The Undertaker and Paul Bearer, then Trebek with Demolition which are once again heels, and once again working with Mr. Fuji.. They cut a promo on their opponents in the next match, Genichiro Tenryu and Koji Kitano. We then go to Regis who tries to interview Tenryu and Kitano. Finally we go to Trebek with Roberts, before we finish killing time and are ready for the next match.
Demolition (Axe & Smash) w/ Mr. Fuji vs. Genichiro Tenryu and Koji Kitano
Smash and Kitano start, with Kitano soon finding himself the Ricky Morton. That’s right, it’s the early 90’s and the Japanese wrestlers aren’t heels on the sole basis of “Ther Stealin’ Ar Jarbs!” Mind, this doesn’t stop Heenan from slipping a few slightly racist remarks (like Tenryu leaking soy sauce when whipped into the turnbuckles). After Axe and Smash make a few tags, Kitano decapitates Axe with a lariat, and then makes the tag to Tenryu. Tenryu comes in and well, demolishes Demolition, before going for a flying back elbow that misses, allowing Demolition to regain control. Demolition sets up Tenryu for the Demolition Decapitation, but Kitano has it scouted and makes the save, ultimately sending Smash off the top rope to the outside. Tenryu finishes Axe off with a powerbomb for the pin.
Winner: Tenryu and Kitano by pinfall with a powerbomb at 4:42.
Rating: * – Wow, our 3rd burial of the night.
Heenan excuses himself from the announce table for his backstage interview for the next match. We then go to Okerlund who is with Big Boss Man, who is challenging Mr. Perfect for the IC Title this evening. After that interview, we go to Mooney, who is with Perfect and Heenan. Heenan, basically, says that Mr. Perfect would beat Big Boss Man like the LAPD beat Rodney King. I’m not making this up.
WWF Intercontinental Title – Big Boss Man vs. “Mr. Perfect” Curt Henning w/ Bobby Heenan
For this match, Gorilla is joined on commentary by Lord Alfred Hayes.
After the bell, Henning tosses his towel at Bossman, who wipes his ass on it and throws it in Curt’s face, followed by spitting in Curt’s face. Classy. Henning slaps Bossman and then rolls to the outside, with Bossman in pursuit. Curt and Bossman brawl outside the ring and inside the ring, Bossman gains control after hitting a bronco buster between the turnbuckles. Bossman takes off his belt and starts whipping henning with it. Surprisingly, the ref only confiscates the belt, rather then DQing Bossman. However, he only tosses it in the corner, so Curt retrieves it and wraps it around his fist in a sort of impromptu set of knucks, and starts punching Bossman with that. Again, the ref doesn’t go for the DQ. Curt locks on an abdominal stretch, and continues working BBM over until a Perfect-plex gets reversed into a small package by Bossman for 2.
Henning regains control quickly though. He goes for a fist drop, but Bossman gets a boot up. Bossman goes after Heenan but ends up eating ring steps. Heenan puts the boots to Bossman, only to have Andre The Giant come out for the save. Andre clocks Hennig with the IC belt when the ref’s back is turn, but when Bossman goes for the cover, The Barbarian and Haku run in for the save, forcing the DQ.
Winner: Big Boss Man by DQ at 10:46 – Hennig retains the title.
Rating: ** – Not a great match, but the poor finish didn’t help things.
Earthquake w/ Jimmy Hart vs. Greg “The Hammer” Valentine
Heenan has rejoined Monsoon on commentary, and Hayes has returned to the back. Apparently Valentine is no longer part of Rhythm and Blues. Greg and quake lock up, with ‘Quake taking control early. Hammer takes control with a series of chops, and again with a scouted back drop. Greg hits a series of strikes which fails to take down ‘Quake. He finally brings him down with a 2nd rope elbow. Running elbow drop and headbutt to the abdomen by Greg. Valentine goes for the figure four but gets distracted by Hart, allowing Earthquake to regain control, hit the Earthquake Splash and get the win.
Winner: Earthquake with the Earthquake Splash at 3:27.
Rating: * – Apparently Greg isn’t doing so hot backstage either.
After the match we go backstage to Sean Mooney for an interview with the Legion of Doom.
Power and Glory (Tony Roma and Hercules) w/ Slick vs. The Legion of Doom (Hawk and Animal)
This is the Wrestlemania Debut of the LoD and of Tony Roma. Power and Glory jump the LOD before the bell, only to be shut down hard. They hit the Doomsday Device on Roma and it’s over.
Winner: The Legion of Doom by pinfall with a Doomsday Device at :58.
Rating: Dud – Herc, Roma, please speak with ‘Taker and Bearer after the show to get your measurements for your fitting, ’cause you just got buried.
We then get a recap video for the feud between Virgil and Ted DiBiase. In short, Virgil got sick of being bossed around and wanted to be his own man, and turned on DiBiase, taking Piper on as his manager.
“The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase vs. Virgil w/ “Rowdy” Roddy Piper
Piper enters solo, before his client. Apparently he broke his leg before the show in a motorcycle accident. Virgil and DiBiase circle upand Virgil takes control early on with a series of lightning fast strikes. DiBiase rolls out to regroup, only to get shut down again as soon as he rolls back in. Once again DiBiase regroups, only to get clotheslined to the outside as soon as he comes in. Virgil goes out to throw DiBiase back in the ring, only to get attacked by Ted as he tried to get back in. DiBiase’s lead is only temporary as Virgil regains control as soon as he regains a vertical base. DiBiase manages to get control briefly with a piledriver for a 2-count, a vertical suplex for another 2, and a no-count off a gutwrench suplex.
Meanwhile, Heenan is basically saying that Virgil’s place as DiBiase’s manservant, and he all but accuses Virgil of being “uppity.” Bobby, is there anything you’d like to get off your chest. Anyway, DiBiase sends Virgil to the outside, tosses him bck in, and then starts scrapping with Piper, and gets counted out.
Winner: Virgil by count-out at 7:37
Rating: *** – A decent match.
After the match, Sherri comes in to help DiBiase, Piper’s leg gets worked over and ultimately he has to get helped to the back.
We then get a video package of the Hogan/Slaughter feud. In short – Slaughter supported Saddam in the first Iraq war, turning into perhaps the most over-the-top scenery chewing villain you can get in pro wrestling without kicking puppies or literally stealing candy from children in the front row, all but saying “Evil, be thou my good”, if only because the stereotypical wrestling fan of the time wouldn’t know what “Thou” means. We then get an Okerlund interview with Slaughter and his manager, Gen. Adnan
The Mountie w/ Jimmy Hart vs. Tito Santana
This is the Wrestlemania debut of Jacques Rougeau as The Mountie. Tito and Mountie lock up, with Tito taking control early on, only to get zapped by Mountie’s Taser when the ref’s back is turned, allowing him to get the pin.
Winner: The Mountie by pinfall through the employment of a Foreign Object at 1:21.
Rating: Dud – Oh, how the mighty have fallen.
We go back to Okerlund for his interview with Hogan.
WWF Heavyweight Title – Hulk Hogan vs. Sgt. Slaughter w/ Gen. Adnan
Hogan peruses Slaughter around the ring, before Slaughter gets in the ring and we get this match started. Slaughter and Hogan circle up and lock up. Both men are power wrestlers and brawlers, so I’m expecting a lot of strikes. Hogan shoulder blocks Slaughter clear across the ring. Slaughter hits hogan with a steel hair, but Hogan’s already starting to hulk up a little, but slaughter stops it with a thumb to the eye.
Slaughter works Hogan over for a while until Slaughter misses an elbow allowing Hogan to take control 2-count off an atomic drop. Hogan beats Slaughter from pillar to post. This match has basically become a pier-six brawl. 2-count after a mounted 10 punches by Hogan. Slaughter regains control after Adnan blocks Hogan from going up top. Hogan gets beaten on the outside by Slaughter. Slaughter locks on a Boston crab, but Hogan reaches the ropes.
Slaughter goes up top and hits a flying stomp. Slaughter locks on the camel clutch but Hogan powers out, hulks up, hits the Three Moves Of Doom (Punches, Yakuza/Big Boot kick, and Hogan Leg Drop) for the pin.
Winner: Hulk Hogan by pinfall with the Hogan leg drop at 20:15 and is the new WWF Heavyweight champion.
Rating: ** – Meh. Hogan vs. Warrior was better.
Overall Rating: *** – There are some pretty good matches on there, but still overall there isn’t much better than good.