Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Wrestlemania III

March 29, 1987
Pontiac Silverdome
Detroit, Michigan
Estimated Attendance: 93,173

This is my first review of a Wrestlemania show, and i thought it very appropriate since we are in the middle of Wrestlemania season to review the biggest Mania of all time, actually the biggest WWE show of all time. A few notes about this show:

- The scenery of it is just absolutely amazing; the Dome is so massive and it registers day and night changes so about 1/3 through the show you see the background grow dark and just seeing two or four people competing in front of such a mass of people is a great visual.

- This is the biggest show ever held by WWE, although the attendance they announced at the show was said to be greatly exaggerated; it was more in the ballpark of 78,000 people.

So, let's take a look at the work:

1) Can- Am Connection (Tom Zenk and Rick Martel) v. Don Muraco/ Bob Orton jr.- 4

I like the heel team in this one: Muraco was a big brawny brawler type, but he was bumping big for the faces and they sold his stuff like he was a big, brawny brawler which worked. Orton was a really skilled technical wrestler in his day but you couldn't tell that from here or from his 2005 stint with his son where his nose looked like a 1,000 year old boulder. There was some miscommunication with the ending but for the most part, this was exactly what you would want out of an opener: a fast paced match with a clean finish.

2) Billy Jack Haynes v. Hercules- 3

Haynes is someone I'd like to see more of. I can't see him going very long in a match. He was really beefed up and was selling some big time power offense from Herc, who's "Jew-fro" looked vaguely reminiscent of a sniffly 14 year old kid who collects Ronald McDonald paraphenelia. This was built around using the full nelson, which neither guy did very well but I enjoyed them clotheslining the heroin out of each other. Haynes got busted open hardway after the match but you could barely tell because of his Hall & Oates haircut.

3) Hillbilly Jim/ Little Beaver/ Haiti Kid v. King Kong Bundy/ Little Tokyo/ Lord Littlebrook- 1

This was a shortened version (get it?) of a trainwreck. The appealing thing about the midgets is that they are obviously not as tall as the normal wrestlers, but still athletic so it's fun to watch. These midgets all looked 45 and sour because they had a wife who couldn't cook at home waiting on them. And they were really out of shape; combined with Bundy, this match would have been a plastic surgeon's dream to get some of these guys on the lyposuction table. Jim showed his incredibly limited skills in a comedy throwaway that I found more insulting than funny.

4) Junkyard Dog v. "King" Harley Race- 5

This was a really fun match, hidden in the midcard of this grandiose show. Race was a former 7 time World Champion and JYD was like American Idol to the masses: they loved to watch him. Both men threw some really strange, but stiff punches and they both bumped like crazy; highlights being Race missing a flying headbutt to the outside and Dog taking a really nasty fall on the apron. Race picks up the win with a solid belly to belly and although it's short, this is still worth seeing. Gorilla Monsoon made the comment "JYD down on all 4's- his favorite position" - usually I like the female in front of me to be on all 4's but who am I to question a dead superstar's sexual predilection.

5) Rougeau Brothers v. Dream Team- 3

The Rougeau's were a sound team and here they were matched up with a great veteran in Greg Valentine and a shclep famous for giving unwanted haircuts, "Bruti" as Gorilla referred to him, Brutus Beefcake. Bruti was greener than the Hulk's taint, not even working an armbar at all, just basically holding onto Raymond's forearm like he needed him to stand up. Valentine's elbows were absolutely money and I wished he would have dropped more of them. Bobby Heenan stepped into the announce booth to rile up Gorilla, which made for some entertaining banter. Dream Team wins after Dino Bravo comes in off the 2nd rope with a forearm to Raymond's gut. ? That hurts, just like the chylmidia you got last night at that party when you slept with that girl you know you should have double bagged on. You know what i'm talking about. You know.

6) Roddy Piper v. Adrian Adonis- see "Rowdy" Roddy Piper: Born to Controversy Review

7) British Bulldogs/ Tito Santana v. Hart Foundation/ Danny Davis- 5

There was a lot of talent in this ring, although none of it resided with Danny Davis or in Davey Boy Smith's sexual techniques. They kept moving at a brisk pace, constant tags so everyone got to work with everyone really. Kid and Bret's segments were really hard hitting and Bret's corner bump never looked better. When Davis finally came in, Santana really layed it into him. His flying forearm was quite astounding and you could picture him throwing those deadly punches in a barrio somewhere over a pinata full of smack. The ending was a cheap finish with Davis getting the pin, but the Bulldogs were not light on him. Right after the match started, they cut to Jesse Ventura stealing Matilda, the Bulldog's mascot. Gorilla commented, "We knew what kind of person he was, " followed by Mary Hart saying " I had heard the rumors, but I didn't think it was true." Wow, to air that kind of dirty laundry is pretty foul and in bad taste on a live pay per view, but I guess someone had to intervene into Ventura's dog fetish.

8) Koko B. Ware v. Butch Reed- 2

This was short and no so sweet, as it was basically a squash for Reed who was mostly on defense. One question though, before we move on: WHY THE HELL DOES EVERYONE ON THIS SHOW DO SOME KIND OF DROPPING OR FLYING FOREARM? If anyone knows the answer, please email me because it really got annoying. Reed's only offensive move really was a forearm to the back and I really expected more out of a vet like him. I actually would have rathered Koko go over because he was working harder here and even threw a good dropkick. Frankie, Koko's parrot at ringside, got a closeup in the camera at one point and Gorilla said "Frankie obviously knowing what's happening to his friend." Well, Obviously, Obviously, the talking bird knows that Koko is selling those forearms really well and is booked to lose but he still gets a nice pay day, Obviously, he knows exactly what is going on. Why wouldn't he? He's a parrot, for God's sake. Obviously.

9) Randy Savage v. Ricky Steamboat- 8

So, there's not much more that can be said about this match than has already been said: Wrestling wise, it does hold up, that's for sure. They have a great pace and you can even count out a rhythm to their sequences. It's quite enthralling. One black eye on this match is the inclusion of George the Animal Steele. They sandwhiched his storyline of being obsessed with Elizabeth into Steamboat's revenge against Savage for trying to end his career and they really didnt' need to. They go out of their way to put Savage on a pedestal, as he knocks the ref out then cleanly hits his flying elbow and has the Dragon pinned, but it's Steele's interference that hurts Savage enough for Steamboat to get the pin. This was the show stealer of Mania 3 and many regard it as the best Mania match of all time. Elizabeth was also looking quite chesty at ringside.

10) Jake Roberts v. Honky Tonk Man- 3

Honky takes a licking right off the bat and instead of selling the knee lift he receives, he struggles to take off his Elvis-suit. Nice professionalism. This match is not too involved, as Honky mostly works over Jake with more of those fucking forearm smashes we've seen scattered throughout this show. Alice Cooper is at ringside, looking completely un-hetero and wimpier than Napoleon Dynamite. We have a bad rollup finish; These two are capable of much better.

11) Iron Sheik/ Nikolai Volkoff v. Killer Bees- 3

Hacksaw comes down dressed like a reject from a Hell's Angel bar and interrupts Nikolai's beautiful serenade. Then, we get to it: Good tag action, the Bees have some tandem offense and the evil Foreigners really know how to cut the ring in the half and work over one guy. Brunzell displays a pretty decent dropkick, but it doens't hold a candle to Pillman's. Duggan gets involved in most of the match and it plays out like any bad RAW finish you can think of: with interference. I think given some more time, this could have developed into a swell encounter.

12) Hulk Hogan v. Andre the Giant- 7

I give some bonus nostalgia points for this match: there are some absolutely iconic images in this match:Hulk and Andre's staredown- Hogan slamming Andre I love the nearfall right at the beginning where Hogan tries to slam Andre, but Andre keeps asking the ref if it was 2 or 3 and it really shows his veteranism (not really a word, but what the hey) because when he questions the count, you question it. As far as pace goes, this one moves slower than Clint Eastwood in a Gay Pride Parade. One really shitty spot is when Hogan rips the outside mats up and takes the most protected backdrop in the history of the business on it by letting his legs brace against the ring apron first. I want to wrap him up in Latex after watching it. But, this is a bonafide classic and Andre takes a sick bump after a clothesline near the end of this one. Really fun match to watch, unless you've seen it 300 times like I have.

Bonus: B1) Randy Savage v. George Steele- 2

Here was some out and out buffoonery! We all know George Steele for eating turnbuckles and acting like a human gorilla and while that may be entertaining, his ring style, his slow punches, his sloppy sells, all make for a low grade. And this circus went on forever it seemed. This did set up Savage-Steamboat pretty well with the Dragon making his return mid-match then leaving just as quickly for the combatants to finish up. Made no sense.

B2) 20 Man Battle Royal- 4

This was moderately fun to watch mainly because of Andre's performance. The basic premise of this was Hogan and Andre were to be on either side of the ring and dump people out. Well, Andre was punishing the people he was eliminating with really hard strikes and chops and it was a joy to watch. He even dumped Hogan out like a child. Then, he was thrown out, so your final 3 guys were Billy Jack Haynes, Hercules and Smash from Demolition. Scratch your head all you want, but it happened. So, the finale was pretty fruitless but it was cool to see some old school guys battling, like Orndorff, Killer Bees, Blackjack Mulligan and so forth; other than that, this was as exciting as another season of Survivor (heavy on the sarcasm)

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