Wednesday, May 14, 2014

WWE Network World Tour: WrestleMania VI

It was the pinfall that rocked a million grade schoolers.

In professional wrestling, there are countless ways to win a match, depending on the gimmick involved. You can escape a cage, drag your opponent to all four corners, toss 'em in a casket, even light 'em on fire. But a lot of these finishes are copouts--ways to give a victory to one wrestler while not making the opponent look too weak in defeat. Even in 2014, the way to really assert dominance over an opponent--to show them that you are truly better, to really defeat them--is through pinfall or submission.

And as of April 1, 1990, Hulk Hogan had not been cleanly pinned in nine years. The internet tells me that the last man to pin Hulk Hogan's shoulders to the mat without cheating before the advent of Hulkamania was Tony Atlas sometime in 1981. For an entire generation of kids who started watching the WWF in 1985 or so, Hogan was unpinnable. Seeing Earl Hebner count a bogus three in '88 with Hogan's shoulder off the mat looked surreal, as did the sight of the WWF title on Andre the Giant's shoulder for all of 40 seconds. These days, champions get pinned in non-title matches all the time to advance storylines--heck, Randy Orton got pinned cleanly more often during his last title run than The Honky Tonk Man may have been in his entire career. But in the '80s, the WWF protected its champions. You did not see a champ get pinned, even in a non-title situation, because it made the champ look weak.

And that's why the finish to WrestleMania VI made history.

The WWF for a time must have been convinced that The Ultimate Warrior was the future of their company. Like Hogan before him, he was huge, ripped, and his way...and incredibly over with the fans. Unless you were a wrestling purist or an NWA fan, it was hard not to get swept up in the energy and the hype of the Warrior...even if nothing he ever said made any sense.

I mean, come on--who wouldn't have wanted this guy as the face of the company?

In 1989, this dude was so goddamn popular that he was on a nonstop collision course with the--until now--unquestioned king of the WWF, the man who had held the title since beating Randy Savage at WrestleMania V, Hulk Hogan. And for the first time since WrestleMania III, there was legitimate doubt as to whether Hogan would actually win, even though conventional wisdom reminded us that he hadn't been pinned in nine years, and did anyone even remember seeing that match, anyway? Hulk Hogan vs. The Ultimate Warrior was the match that had to happen, even though neither guy could actually wrestle worth half a goddamn. And still, it was a main event that ended up being greater than the sum of its parts. Like Andre/Hogan at WMIII, the hype told more story than the in-ring performance. And Intercontinental Title vs. World Title was the cherry on top.

But first, it was apparently critical that "Rowdy" Roddy Piper wrestle in blackface.

We're at the Toronto Skydome, where the future Edge and Christian are in attendance and getting ready to have their minds blown and their lives changed forever! And what in the hell is up with this opening graphic? As constellations scroll by, Vince McMahon is growling nonsense. "Upon the examination of the galaxies of space, images begin to appear--images of strange and powerful forces. But of all the forces in the universe, the two most powerful--Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior--prepare to explode. Champion vs. champion. Title for Title. It's the Ultimate Challenge! It's WrestleMania!" Well! OK then!

It's Gorilla and Jesse once again among the 65,000 strong in Toronto, and our announcers are fired up for The Ultimate Challenge! But first, it's time for the Canadian national anthem, sung by ROBERT FUCKING GOULET. Well, this is a nice change of pace, especially after Rockin' Robin last year. As Goulet croons "Oh Canada" (and it's smooth as silk, y'all), we get stock footage of Canada's picturesque landscapes, fields, and mountains, and not one shot of its hardworking citizenry. Probably because they're all dirty socialists that live on the dole, amirite?

Oh, man, no time to waste! They cut right from Robert F. Goulet to Koko B. Ware's music! Let's get this show on the road!

Match 1: "The Birdman" Koko B. Ware vs. "The Model" Rick Martel

Howard Finkel is referred to in his title card as "The Fink" at this event. Because the greatest ring announcer in history needs to be saddled with a dorky nickname. Meanwhile Jesse claims that Robert Goulet reminded him of Axl Rose (?) as Koko rides a WrestleMania III-style mini-ring cart to ringside. Koko's hit single "Do the Bird With Me" or whatever is rockin' in the background, but a cut to some harp glides and it's time to meet Rick "The Model" Martel, the now-cocky heel who bailed out on Tito Santana in the best match of last year's show. Martel is sporting a sweater tied around his neck, because that's what models wear, and his classic atomizer full of "Arrogance" cologne. He still has a curly mullet, though, which is totally a hairstyle that a model would have worn in any era. This gimmick is a mess, but that's kinda what makes it silly fun (although i will say yet again that when it comes to narcissistic model gimmicks, he's no Tyler Breeze, King of the Selfies).

Rick comes out swinging, attacking Koko as his boots are being checked for foreign objects (like what, crackers for Frankie?). A quick back and forth sequence ends in Martel whipping Koko to the turnbuckle and Koko leaping back into a bodypress that's good for a two count (during which Gorilla counts "one, two, no" before Martel even kicks out). A pair of dropkicks and a backdrop, and Martel is reeling out of the ring for a breather. Once he's back in, though, he reverses an Irish Whip and tosses Koko out of the ring right next to Frankie, who doesn't flinch on his perch. Can we stop a moment and acknowledge the mad bird-training skills of whoever taught Frankie to stay in one place? There are 65,000 people in this room, including two bodies flying all around him, and he doesn't take off to the ceiling in a panic. Then again, maybe parrots don't do that, i dunno.

Martel's now in control, hitting a two-count after a suplex and following up with some forearms and an axehandle off the second rope. Martel tries to slap on his Boston Crab finisher, but Koko fights out of it, getting his arm under the bottom rope to force a break. And it's rally time. Koko no-sells some head knocks into the turnbuckle, and he starts punching away at Martel. A pair of jumping headbutts, and Martel splots onto the mat, leading to a Koko two-count. Finally, Martel ducks under another bodypress, pointing to his head because models are smart. He slaps on the Boston Crab, and forget about it. Martel with the submission win.

Winner: Rick Martel via submission in 3:51

Mean Gene Okerlund is backstage with Bobby "The Brain" Heenan and the Colossal Connection, aka Andre the Giant and Haku, the reigning WWF World Tag Team Champions, having won the titles in December by taking down the then-two-time tag champs, Demolition (we missed an entire Brain Busters title reign between WrestleManias. Sad). Mean Gene introduces them as "The Colostomy Connection," which immediately gets Heenan fired up. "But if you wanna talk evacuation, fine. Because that's where Demolition is headed -- to the treatment plant. And gentlemen, we know how we're going to treat them, don't we?" "WE GRABBLE IMIDAY EM! HAHAHA!" Man, don't let Haku and Andre talk at the same time. I think what they meant to say was, "we're gonna eliminate them."

Sean Mooney is with Demolition, and Ax rants and raves about being called "Ax" because he can chop down the tallest 7'5" redwood, and he refers to Haku as a "Polynesian oak." I really wish the WWE would get back to focusing primarily on interviews before big matches, and not so many dumb backstage skits. I mean, you've got Renee Young in the company now. Put her on camera as much as humanly possible, for the love of god.


Wait, where was i? Oh yeah. Tag team titles on the line!

Match 2: The Colossal Connection (Andre the Giant & Haku w/Bobby Heenan)(c) vs. Demolition (Ax & Smash) for the WWF World Tag Team Championship

Man, huge ovation for Demolition as they ride the cart to ringside. Once these guys went babyface, these two were at the peak of their careers, popularity-wise. Ya think people were cheering like this for Repo Man? Hell no. These guys were big, had their faces painted all crazy, and just liked to straight up beat some ass, and the crowd was all in. And, i can't stress this enough--Rick Derringer theme music. These guys would have been the total package if they actually could have wrestled.

The bell rings and Andre and Haku jump the challengers early, trying to catch them off guard right after they remove those tricky little spikes all over their outfits. Jumping Demolition at the bell is a tricky proposition; you have to time it just right, otherwise you risk impaling yourself. If the kids at Hot Topic today knew that part of their dress code was emulating two old doughy dudes, you think they'd rethink things?

Andre heads to the apron, and Haku takes on Smash, who rams Haku into Ax's boot. Andre pops into the ring briefly to run interference, but Demolition continue to work on Haku with quick tags and power wrestling. Smash tries to backslide Haku, but it becomes a test of strength which Smash eventually wins, landing the pin that Andre immediately breaks up. Finally, Haku gets the upper hand with a chop to Ax's throat, followed up by a backbreaker for a two-count. Haku has yet to tag out of this match, incidentally.

Heenan slaps Ax on the face as he's slumped in the ropes, which fires up the former Masked Superstar (not that he was just a superstar with a mask--he wrestled with the name "Masked Superstar". Had they billed him as a Mexican, he could have just been called "Luchador"). He chases after Heenan and runs right into Andre on the apron, who greets him with a headbutt. Haku and Andre continue to work Ax over in their corner, but again, Andre doesn't tag in. Jesse observes that Andre's going to be really fresh when he does tag in, but the real story of this match is that Andre's health problems are finally getting the best of him, although it's not acknowledged on camera at all.

Haku slaps a nerve hold on Ax's trapezius, and although Ax eventually fights out, he ends up back in the Colossal Connection's corner and gets choked by Andre with the tag rope (remember tag ropes? Like, the rule was that you had to be holding the rope in order to tag into the match, so there was a limit on how far down the apron you could wander? How novel). Haku continues to work over Ax with a shoulderbreaker as Jesse muses that it may be time to tag Andre in. Not happening, jack.

Finally, Haku whips Ax into a corner and eats a boot on the charge! Ax connects with a clothesline and finally makes the hot tag to Smash, and it's time for the former Krusher Kruschev to light up the Polynesian prince. A few turnbuckle shots, a huge backdrop, and a clothesline lead to a two-count as Andre starts to enter the ring to make the save, but Smash gets up and decks him right in the kisser. That's as close to a traditional four-way late-match schmoz as we're gonna get, as Andre sells the effects of the punch in the corner while Ax comes in to help finish off Haku. A double clothesline on Andre slumps him even farther back in the corner as the crowd pops huge, and then it's back to work on Haku's back. Hey ref, have you counted to five on Ax yet? Finally the ref takes some control back and starts to force Ax out of the ring, and with his back turned, Andre gets up and grabs Smash to hold him for a Haku superkick, except...Smash ducks, of course, and the Giant takes it on the chin. He gets tied up in the ropes (because it's not an Andre match without him getting tied up in the ropes), and Demolition finishes off Haku with the Decapitation. 1, 2, 3, and Demolition are three-time WWF World Tag Team Champions. Fire up the Derringer!

Winners: Demolition via pinfall in 9:30 to win the WWF Tag Team Titles

As Demolition exits the ring holding their titles high, Bobby Heenan is going off on Andre. He's poking his finger angrily in the Giant's chest and screaming at him, blaming Andre for losing the titles. When Heenan goes too far and slaps Andre in the face, the big man's had it. He grabs Bobby by the shirt and the crowd EXPLODES. Andre starts to tee off on Heenan, as best he can anyway, and The Brain sells it like he just got cracked in the face with a cannonball. Haku tries to land a kick, but Andre catches his foot and connects with a few chops and a headbutt as the crowd is eating it up. Haku and Heenan bail toward the mini-ring cart, but Andre catches up to them and tosses them both out, commandeering their ride for his own journey into the sunset.

This is Andre's last Pay-Per-View match with the WWF, and it's a sweet moment that the company gives him, turning babyface right at the end of his storied career. Sure, his acromegaly was getting out of control and he could barely move, much less perform, but at least he managed to get one last ovation from the fans before it was all over. He made a few appearances and had a few storylines with the WWF after this, and he wrestled a few matches for All-Japan, but this really was is swan song.

On January 27, 1993, his heart finally gave out, and we lost the Eighth Wonder of the World.

Aaaand, speaking of gargantuan fatasses, we go to an interview with Earthquake, who is screaming about what he's going to do to Hercules--who, incidentally, is still around. If we were being generous, we could politely assume that 'Quake is dripping wet because someone cooled him down with a spray bottle before the interview, but no--he's sweating profusely because moving is an exertion when you weigh 450 pounds and wash yourself with a rag on a stick. Christ, let's go to the ring.

Match 3: Earthquake (w/Jimmy Hart) vs. Hercules

Gorilla Monsoon points out that Earthquake is currently undefeated and that he has sent 28 men to the hospital after his matches. So, basically, this is going to be an enhancement match for 'Quake. Herc does get some offense in to start things off, but after Earthquake takes a breather outside the ring, climbs back in, jumps a bunch to shake the mat and make a bunch of noise, he wins a test of strength with Herc, hits a forearm, and starts to work the Greek legend over. Herc rallies, though, bouncing off the ropes and slamming into 'Quake with clotheslines, slowly chopping down the tree as Earthquake wobbles, bounces off the ropes, and eventually drops to a knee, selling wooziness from the punishment. Herc gets cocky, though, and tries to put Earthquake up in his torture rack backbreaker finisher (a submission move where a ripped dude with mad trapezius drapes another dude across his shoulders, abusing the dude's back until he cries for mommy). 'Quake merely drops an elbow into Herc's back and he drops to the mat in a pile of mythological futility. That was really effing dumb, Herc. Earthquake starts to jump around Herc's body (tremors!), then runs to both ropes and squashes Hercules by sitting right on his face and telling him that he loves him. Of course, Herc raised his head and shoulders a smidge just before impact to minimize the damage, but that's just so his lungs don't collapse. 1, 2, 3, and Earthquake is still undefeated. Whoopdeefuckingdoo. This match was way longer than it had to be.

Winner: Earthquake via pinfall in 4:52

Earthquake motions to Jimmy Hart to distract the ref, and he drops his huge, sweaty ass on Hercules again. Jesse explains that, scientifically speaking, after every earthquake, there's an aftershock. His completely deadpan explanation is the most entertaining part of this whole segment. Let's go to Rona Barrett (who?) who is on a living room set with Miss Elizabeth. She asks Elizabeth where she's been for the past few months, and apparently Liz has been away from the ring, working with the WWF in an "advisory capacity," whatever the hell that means. ("I think that perhaps you should focus on female wrestlers that have genuine talent and not treat them as a freak show." "Pffft, yeah, thanks for the advice, Liz.") Rona says Liz's fans have been disappointed in her absence, and Liz maintains that she's stayed away from the ring in order to avoid disappointing those very same fans by not doing enough at ringside to help her wrestlers, because she's afraid she can't help enough, and this makes no goddamn sense. I assume this is some sort of tease for her coming back to television soon, or something. Finally, when this awkward interview can't get any worse, Rona stops feeding us broadcast melatonin and throws it to Sean Mooney, who's with...Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake. Ah, fuckin' hell. It's worse. Get a load of this shithead cramming for his interview by reading his lines on camera last-minute:

Oh, he claims he's actually looking at a rundown of Mr. Perfect's record. Yeah, sure. Beefcake explains that no one is perfect and everyone has flaws, and he's going to cut up Mr. Perfect's perfect record or some shit. "Cutting remarks from Brutus 'The Barber' Beefcake," says Sean Mooney. Man, i hope he hasn't sacrificed that razor wit in his news anchorman job down in Tucson.

Oh, fuck yes, "The Genius" Lanny Poffo is in the ring in his fey-ass graduation robe, introducing Mr. Perfect. Outstanding. Let me take this moment to bring up how the WWE has seriously dropped the ball in not turning Dolph Ziggler and Damien Sandow into a Mr. Perfect/Lanny Poffo throwback. That shit would rule so hard. Here comes one of the all-time great in-ring workers, Curt Hennig, who has been tasked with the mission to make a Brutus Beefcake match watchable. Hell, Ted DiBiase did an ok job last year; Perfect should be up to the task. (Hmmm, two years in a row they had to pair Beefcake with one of the best bump-takers in the company in order to make him look good. Either Beefcake's still coasting on that "Hulk Hogan's buddy" shine backstage, or Vince really doesn't want him to stink up his show. A little from column A, and little from column B...)

Match 4: "Mr. Perfect" Curt Hennig vs. Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake

While Beefcake takes for-friggin-ever to take off his stupid bomb-went-off jacket, Jesse asks Gorilla if he's going to say hi to Terry, Tyrell, and Jade, like he does every WrestleMania. Way to sneak in the family shout-out, Jess! But what happened to Jeremiah?

Both guys trade punches in the corner early on, with each wrestler taking a turn against the turnbuckles, and Brutus eventually lands a haymaker that sends Perfect flying out over the top rope and onto the floor, making Beefcake's punches look way better than they probably should. Beefcake drags Perfect back in the ring and Jesus, is he bumping like a champ for the Barber. Beefcake gives him an atomic drop that sends him flying back over the top rope, and i'm starting to think that Perfect's overselling as a "fuck you" to the bookers for saddling him with Brutus.

After a brief break in the action, Perfect starts to gain the upper hand with some forearm shots, but an Irish whip into the corner gets reversed, and Perfect collides with the turnbuckles and practically leaps out of the corner to sell the damage. He is NOT letting up with the crazy bumps! Another exaggerated turnbuckle whip, and Beefcake follows it with a clothesline that sends Perfect out of his shoes. This is just becoming hilarious now. This is definitely Mr. Perfect telling Beefcake, "ok, you half-assed motherfucker, i'm going to make you look amazing to comedic effect just to remind the people in charge how badly you suck." Mary Tyler Moore looks on as Beefcake signals for the sleeperhold! (No, really--there she is, in the front row!) Poffo jumps onto the apron to distract the ref and leaves the metal scroll he uses to read his shitty poems on the mat for Curt to use as a weapon. And with the ref's back turned, WHAMMO! Right in the kisser! Beefcake goes down and Perfect takes control.

Now Perfect gets to showcase his offense, flying over a seated Beefcake and hitting a wicked snapmare as he moves right into taunting the crowd. "Now THAT's perfect!" (It was.) Curt climbs over a crouching Beefcake, then drops his taint onto The Barber's back a couple times. I...guess that could hurt? "Who's next?" Perfect yells to the crowd. The crowd yells back, "We prefer Tommy!" Perfect hits a sweet kneelift and keeps pummeling Brutus, admonishing him as he goes. "This is what you get when you need me to work the whole match for you!"

But finally, he talks a little too much shit, and Beefcake grabs his legs and slingshots Perfect into the ringpost, which Hennig once again over-exaggerates with aplomb. Jesse and Gorilla are certain that Perfect knocked himself out on the post, and when Brutus covers him for the pinfall, their theory is confirmed. Mr. Perfect's first pinfall on WWF television comes at the hand of Brutus Fucking Beefcake. What a god damned travesty.

Winner: Brutus Beefcake at 7:48

Beefcake notices that Hennig is out cold, so he signals to the crowd that it's time for a haircut. But in classic "let the manager take the fall" fashion, Poffo grabs the hedge clippers, tries to make off with them, and gets caught and dragged back into the ring as Perfect slinks away. Beefcake slaps the sleeper on the Genius, and it's Goodnight Irene as Jesse protests that Brutus should be fined and suspended by WWF President Jack Tunny for assault on a manager. If only Tunney had any real power, Jess. Lanny Poffo's haircut is awful, but Beefcake makes it worse. This post-match segment, by the way, has taken so long that we've looped through Beefcake's music twice. Mercy! I give, i give! Can we move on to something else please?

And the gods of wrestling (the same ones Ultimate Warrior talks to) heard my plea, and they sent me...

Pictured: Oh, i give up

Remember back at WrestleMania 2, when "Hot Rod" Roddy Piper was throwing the most offensive, heat-generating invectives shy of the 'N' word at Mr. T? "I don't have to paint myself black, and i don't have to cut my hair like an Indian?" Well, now that he's a beloved babyface, he apparently is ok with the former. I'm pretty sure this isn't an improvement. The Bad News Brown/Roddy Piper feud started at the Royal Rumble, where Piper eliminated Bad News, causing Brown to return the favor by pulling Roddy out of the ring from outside. They brawled to the locker room and have been talking mad shit ever since. From what i've read about...this whole thing here, Piper has stated in interviews that Bad News at some point in the storyline accused him of being racist, so painting himself half black was a way to prove that...he wasn't? OK, let's parse this and try to make some sense of this. 

Gene introduces him has "Hot Rod," and Piper, standing sideways to the camera so only his white half is visible, says, "yeah, the call me the Hot Rod...but sometimes they call me...*turns so his black side is visible* the Hot Scot." And then he goes into a rant about various parts of Bad News' facial appearance that aren't his skin color. I guess he's claiming that he has various aspects to his personality, and that they can be portrayed by different skin colors, thus proving that he's not racist? I don't know. None of this makes any effing sense and he just looks like those aliens from that one Star Trek episode, "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield:"

"When i get you in the arena that is the charred remnants of our home planet, Lokai, I'm gonna slap the figure-four on you so fast you'll wish you were a mirror image of yourself!" Or something

OK, so we're all agreed that Hot Rod is at the very least completely fucking misguided here, yes? I mean, one thing i am pretty sure that i know, is that whether or not you think you're racist--if the only angle you can think to work against an African-American opponent is "oh, i'll do something with him being black," then that's kinda racist. OK, let's get on with the wrestling. Hoo boy.

Match 5: "Rowdy" Roddy Piper vs. Bad News Brown

Some fans are holding a huge sign saying "PIPER FOR P.M." Not shown: how quickly they drop the sign when they see Roddy come out with his body half-painted. Piper's taking off his t-shirt and kilt and slowly revealing that his entire body is painted half-black, and the crowd pops (buh?) as Piper starts to mime some disco dancing. Gorilla Monsoon says "he's doin' the jive, the boogie..." This is actually happening on my television. Bad News is pissed (duh) and both men just end up rolling around on the ground trying to punch each other. Referee Danny Davis (wait, what? You mean Dangerous Danny Davis, evil referee who was banned for life from officiating? Man, this company has a short memory) separates the two of them and gets them to separate corners before allowing them to fight again. After a quick cross-bodyblock from Piper for a two count, they're rolling on the ground again like frolicking puppies. Aww! "It's hard to tell which Piper has the advantage--Hot Rod or the Hot Scot," says Jesse. After some more brawling, Bad News starts to slam Piper's head into the turnbuckles, and Piper begins a not-so-subtle no-sell of the impact, getting the crowd excited. But in good news for people who love Bad News, Brown slaps a nervehold onto Piper's trapezius and slows the rally. When Piper eventually fights out of it, they trade punches some more before Bad News no-sells one, hits a headbutt, and fires back with some chops to the throat, a snapmare, and a quick choke that turns into a two-count. Wait, Bad News just choked the dude, and David still counted the near-fall? HE'S STILL EVIL! Jack Tunney, do something!

Hot Rod connects with an eye poke, but Bad News hits a full-on eye rake that leaves Piper reeling and Danny Davis checking on him...or is he just surreptitiously letting Bad News remove one of the turnbuckle pads? Cuz that's what Bad News is doing! This officiating is all very questionable! Now Piper is fighting back and knocks Bad News to the ground, utilizing this break in the action to reach into his tights and pull out...a white fingerless glove, which he puts on his black hand in a response to Bad News' one Black Panther glove. Oh, fucking hell. "Is that legal?" Jesse asks. "Obviously that glove hasn't been checked by the referee, but Danny Davis is just lettin' it go!" Because he's still a crooked ref, Jesse. Even in wrestling, some leopards never change their spots. 

Finally, Piper knocks Bad News out of the ring with his white glove, and Brown drags Piper out of the ring to join him, as they throw each other into the ring post, try to smash each other with chairs, and suddenly it's a double count-out. Because of course. These two competitors don't care about winning and losing--they just want to inflict pain! Referees try to separate them, Danny Davis goes flying, it's pandemonium. They fight all the way to the dressing room, and here's hoping Bad News throws Roddy into the shower and soaks him down to get that stupid paint off him. But we'll leave the slashfic for another time...

Winner: Double Count-Out at 6:48

Speaking of the shower, Gorilla suddenly throws it to Steve Allen (Steve Allen's here? The fuck?), who is playing piano in a bathroom. Better acoustics, he says. Oh, fuck yes--he's rehearsing the Soviet National Anthem with Nikolai Volkoff and Boris Zhukov, The Bolsheviks! Oh, this is outstanding. Every time he starts playing the piano he starts singing some ragtime classic and changing the lyrics to involve Ukraine or perestroika or something, and Nikolai is getting pissy. Finally, Allen says "ok, here we go--one for the homeland. Let's sing it for Mother Russia," and just before he starts, a toilet flushes. Of course it does. Boris has to hold Nikolai back while Steve Allen throws it back upstairs. "Take it Jesse--i'm getting out of here. A guy could get killed in here." I really, really, enjoyed this for some reason.

This would be the reason

Match 6: The Hart Foundation (Bret "Hitman" Hart & Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart) vs. The Bolsheviks (Nikolai Volkoff and Boris Zhukov)

Who doesn't love The Hart Foundation in Canada? Ain't no one hates the Hart Foundation in Canada! They have apparently issued a challenge to the winners of today's tag title tilt, so this is a chance for the Harts to prove they belong back in the title mix.

Wow, even Canada hates the Soviet National Anthem. And they're supposed to be such a low-maintenance, polite people. Nikolai actually gets farther along in the anthem than i've seen him get at a WrestleMania before the Harts jump both Bolsheviks from behind and go to work.

And before Boris can even get his ring jacket off, he's being bearhugged by the Anvil as Bret comes off the ropes to connect with a running clothesline. HART ATTACK! The Foundation wins in 19 seconds and the places goes nutty. I guess they've proven they belong in the title hunt then.

Winners: The Hart Foundation via pinfall in :19

Looks like Bobby Heenan has sort of recovered from the embarrassment of that whole Andre thing, as he's at ringside with his new charge, The Barbarian, who has split from his Powers of Pain teammate, The Warlord. Man, so the Heenan family right now is Haku, the Barbarian, and Rick Rude? Well, one out of three ain't bad, i guess...

Mean Gene is backstage with Tito Santana who cuts a quick, painless interview about having to keep his eyes on both Heenan & his man to survive or something. Arriba!  Sure, OK.

As Tito heads toward ringside, Jesse says "Chico's" entrance music reminds him of the Blue Note Club in Tijuana. "I used to go there when i was in the Navy a lot." "I think you must have picked up something there, Jess." "Oh, i picked up somethin', Gorilla. More than once!" Is he talking about the ladies, or the clap? The world may never know. "There was Juanita..." Oh, ok, i guess now we know.

Match 7: The Barbarian (w/Bobby Heenan) vs. Tito Santana

"You know, if Chico had been smart, he'd a sent the Barbarian some of that food a' his. He coulda counted on a countout then." "Stop." "Two minutes in, the Barbarian'd haveta head out." "That's it. That's it." "Chico's Revenge, right?" Holy shit, Jesse.

The Barbarian has grown all his hair out--no more mohawk. We'll see how that affects his aerodynamics in the ring. He's showing off his strength early, no-selling all of Tito's attempted shoulderblocks while Jesse continues to expound upon "Chico's" enchiladas. "You're not the same for a week." OK, OK, we get it, man! Tito hits a high cross-bodyblock for a pin attempt. It's back and forth for a while until Tito bounces off the ropes and runs into a big boot and crashes to the mat. "That'll take all the starch out of ya." Dammit, Jesse, knock it off with the food jokes--oh, wait, that was Monsoon. Shoulderbreaker connects, but a second-rope elbow does not, as a ringside fan amusingly taunts "nobody hooome!" Tito needs two dropkicks to knock down the Barbarian, then follows up with a double axehandle from the second rope and his trademark flying forearm, but Heenan puts the Barbarian's foot on the rope before the three count. After Tito jaws with the Brain a little, he tries to run Barbarian into the ropes, but Barbarian ducks and Tito's neck catches on the top rope in an inadvertent guillotine. Or at least, that's what they want you to think. Actually, Tito's forehead bumps into the rope a little, and he crashes to the mat selling throat trauma. Well, that looked like shit. Barbarian nearly decapitates Tito with a top rope clothesline, and the Barbarian scores the pin. Zzzzz.

Winner: The Barbarian via pinfall in 4:33

After that bit of filler, it's time for one of our feature matches, what's being billed as the first mixed tag team match in WWF history, as the Macho King, Randy Savage (hmm, where did he win that crown from again? Help me out, Wikipedia...ah, yes, he won the "kingship" from Hacksaw Jim Duggan, a man who extolls the virtues of a country that got rid of kings) and "Sensational" Sherri Martel take on the Powers of Polka Dots, Dusty Rhodes and Sapphire. Oh man, remember Dusty Rhodes and Sapphire? Hey Dusty! Welcome to the WWF! You know how you were one of the main bookers for our top competition for years? Well, now you're going to wrestle in polka dots and we're gonna saddle you with some saleswoman from St. Louis who has no business in a wrestling ring!

Not pictured: dignity

Ah, Sapphire. Apparently she was a very sweet lady and legitimately dug getting to hang out with Dusty (i mean, who wouldn't?), but good lord. I dunno, maybe Vince decided that no one would take a dude seriously as a competitor when he resembled the planet Jupiter more than a pro wrestler (he said not long after Eathquake's match), so he went with the comedy angle. Who knows. Let me take this off pause so i can hear what Sean Mooney wants to ask him. 

"Whoo-wee! This here's Sweet Sapphire, and this here's the common man. And you ain't gonna see no common man, Dusty Rhodes, motivatin' to the ring, sittin' on a throne, pretending to be king. And you ain't gonna see no Sweet Sapphire standin' by my side with a crown on her head, pretendin' to be queen." Sapphire: "Cuz they ain't no king and queen no more!" Dusty: "Whoo! That's right honey! So Savage, if you and Sherri wanna be crowned, me an' Sapphire can get the job done. Cuz we know what you're missin'. You're missin' the most important thing about royalty: the crown jewel. Let's show 'em what we mean, baby!" 

Even draped in polka dots and saddled with an embarrassing gimmick, Dusty Rhodes still strings a promo together like no other. Game recognize game--that was pretty slick.

Match 8: "Macho King" Randy Savage & Sensational "Queen" Sherri vs. "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes & Sapphire (mixed tag team match)

If you thought Randy Savage looked good in his robes and shades before, throw a scepter and a crown on him. Holy smokes. Sensational Sherri is wearing a royal purple gown that looks like it's borrowed from a Snow White play, and, well, i'm sorry, but she looks fucking great. As a kid, i always hated Sensational Sherri because she painted her face to be purposely as freaky as possible, covered herself in glitter, and screeched and screamed in the most annoying way possible. I'm pretty sure her primary influence when it came to ring appearance was Divine. But as an adult reevaluating her contributions to the biz (and with a much more well-developed respect for Divine), i fucking love her. She was the top heel in all of women's wrestling in an era where her sport had about three major American stars, tops. If she were alive today i bet she'd be incredibly stoked on the current Divas division--namely the stars with actual talent, like Natalya, Paige, Emma, AJ Lee, and fine, even the Bella Twins, and want to lend a hand in their development. Sherri was a goddess and her death in 2007 of a drug overdose was a tragedy. 

And here comes Dusty and Sapphire to his "He's just a common man" American Dream theme music. The less said about that, the better. Oh, fine:

Actually, i take it back: that bass line is pretty boss. Still, this is about a rung and a half above the American Males theme, although this is at least better fidelity.

Jesse: "WAIT JUST A MINUTE! They just said a combined weight of 465 pounds? You're telling me that Rhodes only weighs 200?" Oh, DAMN.

"Stop the music!" says Dusty. "Sapphire and i know what you're missin' in royalty, Savage. You're missin' the crown jewel. The first lady of wrestling--Elizabeth!" The crowd explodes as "Pomp & Circumstance" fires up, and here comes Liz! "What is she doing here?" asks Jesse. She's also wearing royal purple, and Macho Man is bent out of shape. Bell rings, and Savage starts against Rhodes, who has to contend with Sherri constantly running into the ring to run interference, even though in mixed tag rules the genders aren't supposed to cross paths. At one point, Savage tries jumping off the top on Dusty, who catches him and drops him right into the path of an oncoming Sherri, who goes reeling out of the ring. Tag made to Sapphire and Rhodes throws Sherri into the ring to take on his lady. Sapphire basically bumps her hip into Sherri a few times, and Sherri, bless her heart, makes it look like it hurts. A shitty airplane spin, and Sapphire drops Sherri to the canvas for a one count. Oy, Sherri really was desperate for people to work against in the ring in 1990. Sherri tries to slam Sapphire and collapses under her weight for a two-count and Sapphire tags Dusty back in.

Dusty grabs Sherri to throw her out of the ring, and Jesse calls foul, as the guys aren't supposed to touch the girls in this contest. "I have never seen two people break so many rules." Savage and Dusty are outside the ring now, and it's a battle of elbows as Savage connects. Sherri gets in a quick revenge shot on Dusty with the ref focusing on Macho Man, who's back in the ring climbing the ropes to drop a classic flying double axehandle on Dusty outside the ring. Sherri continues to rake Dusty's face while Savage distracts the ref in the ring, and Jesse and Monsoon debate whether she's in the wrong. Jesse, of course, contents (accurately) that Dusty touched Sherri first. Another flying double axehandle and the Dream is reeling outside the ring right now, so much that Sapphire comes around to stand in the way of another top rope shot. So Savage, in full-on heel mode, drops to the floor, grabs Sapphire, and throws her to the mat to get to Dusty to throw him back in the ring. The crowd gasps while Jesse again points out that there's a double-standard going on here. And once again i'm amazed at how right Jesse is.

With the ref distracted by something (i think he's admonishing Elizabeth for assisting Sapphire or some shit), Savage grabs his royal scepter (that's not a euphemism, it's an actual scepter) and smashes Dusty with it from the top rope. Perfect chance to put away the Dream and win the match, but Sherri is asking to be tagged in. Why? This is improper strategy, Sherri. Aren't you supposedly Macho Man's manager, too? Oh, she wants to hit Dusty with a top rope splash, and does. And the ref counts the near-fall? Why? When did we switch from mixed tag to intergender rules? Is Andy Kaufman here? Does no one respect the rules of professional wrestling? ("Does no one respect the rules of professional wrestling?" copyright 2011 Joey Pink)

Dusty kicks out and for some reason this opens the door for Rhodes to fight back. He catches Savage off the top rope and starts bringing the damage courtesy his trademarked bionic elbow, repeatedly beating Savage over the head with it in the corner. Isn't Sherri technically legal? OK, here comes Sapphire. God, this ref has no idea what is going on. Sapphire hiptosses Sherri out of the ring, and HOLY SHIT! Elizabeth tosses Sherri back in! Holy crap! That boring-ass interview with Rona Barrett actually foreshadowed something! Savage pulls Sapphire off a pin attempt, and the schmoz is on. While the ref is trying to get Rhodes and Savage out of the ring, Elizabeth pushes Sherri over Sapphire, who is on all fours behind Sherri in practical-joke-trip-up formation, and she rolls up Sherri for the pinfall! Because of course, in matches like this, the psychology of the storyline demands that the least qualified wrestler in the match get the pinfall (it works for heels too; see Bobby Heenan at WrestleMania IV and Danny Davis the year before that).

Winners: Dusty Rhodes & Sapphire via pinfall in 7:52

The crowd is going crazy as Dusty and Sapphire celebrate in the ring with Elizabeth and Savage and Sherri are going nuts outside the ring. Sherri's on the apron pointing accusingly at Elizabeth, who most definitely interfered in the match (yet another example of the so-called babyfaces cheating more than the heels in Hogan-era WWF matches), and the ongoing saga of Elizabeth and Savage has another chapter written.

It's really too bad that Dusty and Savage couldn't have worked a match on their own; it probably would have been much better than this mish-mash. Which again, isn't a slight on Sherri, but...come on. Sapphire should not have been a wrestler. Ever. Sigh.

We go back stage to Mean Gene with Bobby Heenan, who, despite having just guided the Barbarian to a victory, is still harpin' on old stuff, pissed at Andre the Giant for smacking him around like a six-fingered swordsman. "When you're 7-feet-5 and it takes two and a half hours for the blood to reach your head, you don't think real well!" Gene HILARIOUSLY corrects himself when he asks Heenan, "Where do you get the ball--the NERVE to hit Andre in the face?" God, i bet Gene cussed like a sailor in a whorehouse when the camera was off. Heenan, meanwhile, is so bent out of shape that he actually has to pause to collect himself. "What, are you at a loss for words, finally?" "NO I'M NOT! We lost the championship! Andre just stood on the apron and never got in the ring! He never helped Haku! Haku had to carry the load! Is he lazy? I'm going to start a new family! With new members that care about me!" Oh my god, this is gold.

Gene and Jesse are with Rona Barrett and they prompt her for dirt, since i guess she's a gossip journalist or something? She implies that she has footage of Jesse in a porno (Jesse: "you're talking about Sylvester Stallone, right?" YES), and before she can show the footage on a family-oriented pay-per-view, Jesse saves us all and throws it to Sean Mooney, who is with a furiously pacing Macho Man and Sherri. Man, we get Savage yelling and screaming right after Heenan? Is it Christmas?

"You better get on the phone and call somebody, because SUFFERING BUILDS CHARACTER! And the American Dream, i didn't think i had to keep you on my radar, but mind games are my thing!" Meanwhile, Sherri is basically screaming incoherently in the background, and it's amazing. Savage continues. "THIS AIN'T OVER! THE CROWN JEWEL DOESN'T EXIST! I HAVE YOU NOW! ET CETERA!"

It's obviously intermission, because we go back to Gene again with the new tag champs, Demolition. Cripes, they haven't showered since the match! Either this was pre-taped or Demolition are the grossest dudes in the company. They yell about the Hart Foundation and wrap it up pretty quickly. And after a quick throwback to Monsoon and Jesse ("Jess, just so you know, i saw the footage Rona had, and it was nothing." Monsoon, why did you want to see Jesse fucking somebody?), Gene's now chatting with the WWF World Heavyweight Champ, Hulk Hogan. Hogan's...i don't know, something about asking the Ultimate Warrior whether or not he wants to live forever, because once Hulk's got him on his knees, he and his Hulkamaniacs can save the Warrior from the darkness if he breathes his last breath into the Hulkster's mouth, and is Hogan trying to out-promo the Warrior at his own game here? If so, thank god we've got Sean Mooney standing by with the Incomparable Incomprehensibility himself, your Intercontinental Champion, the Ultimate Warrior.


Yeah, no, Hogan--you have nothing on this dude. Try more cocaine.

Holy crap, are we finally getting another match? Ah, here comes Mr. Fuji and his Orient Express--Akio Sato and Pat Tanaka--to some random stock Japanese-sounding background music. Pat Tanaka had a reputation for a hot minute as a member of Badd Company with Paul Diamond. Managed by a guy by the name of "Diamond" Dallas Page (years before he got into the ring himself), Badd Company held the AWA World Tag belts for about a year after winning them from the Midnight Rockers, whom Tanaka's taking on here. Not that the WWF is working that into the storyline or anything.

Match 9: The Orient Express (Sato and Tanaka w/Mr. Fuji) vs. The Rockers (Shawn Michaels & Marty Jannetty)

Here come Jem & the Holograms The Rockers, choosing not to run to ringside slapping high fives in favor of riding the cart, so they have lots of energy to burn once they hit the ring. And speaking of burning one, Marty Jannetty starts the match against Tanaka in a battle of brunette mullets. Jannetty hits a powerslam and when Sato runs in, Shawn joins him and the Rockers start with the choreography, hitting a double hiptoss on Sato and forcing him out of the ring with a double elbow drop. Tanaha follows him out to regroup and the pretty boys, after hitting the Orient Express with twin bodypresses, have the Skydome ladies dreaming about Poison and Warrant on tour!

Tanaka and Jannetty reset and Marty heads toward the ropes, only to carom out to ringside when Fuji hooks the top rope! That devious foreigner! Sato holds Jannetty while Fuji cracks his cane across the back, and one shove into the ringpost later, Marty's in trouble. (The ref's tied up with Tanaka this whole time, by the way.) Tanaka tags out to Sato and after a few chops, Marty counters a backdrop by landing on his feet, tagging to Shawn, and connecting with double superkicks to Sato's chin. Rockers now in control as Shawn hits a backdrop on Tanaka, who tags to Sato (i must have missed a tag), who manages to get Michaels into his corner for Tanaka to hit a vicious kick from the apron that swings control of the match back the Express' way. Tanaka tags in and whips Michaels to the ropes, crouching away from Michaels before exploding on him with a sudden leaping, twisting headbutt that is hard to describe but catlike brilliance to watch. Goddamn, Tanaka!

Sato hits a flying knee for a two-count, then slaps on a trapezius nervehold (aka rest hold) before continuing the double teams until Michaels finally connects with a clothesline on Tanaka. Michaels hits the hot tag, and it's Jannetty cleaning house. Monsoon observes that the Rockers are looking lethargic, though--perhaps because they didn't get their pre-match calisthenic jog to the ring in? Still, as Jesse observes, they don't look lethargic now, as a double dropkick sends Sato out of the ring while the Rockers climb the turnbuckles for a double-fistdrop on Tanaka. But no! Fuji swats Jannetty with his cane, and Jannetty hops to the floor to attend to the mischievous manager. But as Jannetty picks up Fuji's cane and threatens him with it, Sato sneaks up from behind and nails Marty with an eyeful of salt! Because that's what Japanese wrestlers use as a foreign object when they don't have mysterious Asian mist, you see. Michaels heads out of the ring to check on Marty, and he gets promptly counted out, which is just a stupid finish. You see your partner flailing around blindly, so you just leave the ring and walk around for a bit until the bell rings? That's effective strategy. Man, the Rockers really aren't accumulating much of a won-loss record at WrestleManias by doing dumb shit like that. No wonder Shawn eventually puts Marty through a window. Some fun action here but a lousy finish as the Orient Express takes it by...forfeit via outside interference, i guess?

Winners: The Orient Express via forfeit after outside interference, i guess, at 7:38

Oh, rad, we're back with Steve Allen. "Well, they've been called one of the hottest new bands in the music business today. Unfortunately, they are not here, so let me introduce instead the band that is awaiting our arrival, The Honky Tonk Man and Greg 'The Hammer' Valentine, now known for reasons that remain obscure, as not only Rhythm, but believe it or not, Blues." Classy. Valentine is now sporting the greasiest black dye job this side of "Dice" Clay, and when Honky Tonk Man implies that Allen must be excited to hear their new single, "Honka Honka Honky Love" (which has to be the most whitewashed R&B song title in the history of Nashville co-optation), Allen says he hasn't been this excited since he found out Pee Wee Herman was straight. What? Honky says they'd love to keep talking, but they have to practice, and Valentine very awkwardly says "we're headed for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame!" Phew. Poor Hammer. Someone tell him that Christian Slater called and wants his True Romance Elvis shades back. Yes, i know that movie comes out three years after this. Shhh.

Oh, good, Dino Bravo's in the ring. I'm sure his match against "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan is destined to be a sleeper classic of WrestleMania VI. It'll have something to do with sleeping, anyway.

Match 10: Dino Bravo (w/Jimmy Hart & Earthquake) vs. "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan

Hacksaw is waving an American flag in Canada, and Jesse calls it proof of how completely stupid Hacksaw is. And as Hacksaw tries to get a "USA!" chant started, he is greeted with boos, as Monsoon says "what an ovation here for Hacksaw!" Awesome. Monsoon's already working the revisionist announcing as the Canadian audience voices their disapproval. Of course, when Bravo gets the early advantage on a test of strength, he gets booed even louder. The Canadian crowd eventually forgets the USA nonsense and starts responding "HOOOOOO!" whenever Hacksaw yells it, which is about once every five fucking seconds.

After a reverse atomic drop, Bravo starts putting the choke on Hacksaw, and we're blissfully spared his yelling for a while. Earthquake even gets a shot in when the ref pushes Bravo away to admonish him. Yes! Shut him up and shut him down! "You know why i really don't like Hacksaw?" says Jess. "He's just so ugly." "I don't think he's ugly," Monsoon replies, in what seems to be a genuinely hurt tone.

Eventually Hacksaw goes for the three-point stance clothesline, gets his leg grabbed by Earthquake, Hart throws Duggan's 2x4 in the ring for Bravo to use, Hacksaw grabs it when the ref is tied up with Earthquake, Duggan cracks Bravo with the wood, and covers him for the zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Winner: "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan via zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

After the match Earthquake runs into the ring and proceeds to squash the living fuck out of Duggan, dropping elbow after elbow and Earthquake ass drop after Earthquake ass drop. "This is ridiculous," says Monsoon. "No it's not," says Jesse, petulantly. "Duggan's gonna need that 2x4 just to put himself back together again!" Nice. 'Quake goes for a third ass drop. "Here's what happened earlier on..." "No it's not, Gorilla, this is happening right now!" "Another one?!?" Man, a sweaty, 400-pound ass has never looked so good than when it is turning "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan into a flatter circle than time.

PREVIOUSLY, ON WWF: "The Million Dollar Man" and Jake "The Snake" Roberts have been taking turns attacking each other, and at some point Jake grabbed DiBiase's "Million Dollar Belt," the unsanctioned championship belt he had created when we couldn't win the WWF title from Randy Savage, which was straight-up awesome. What a great heel move--i can't win your title, so the hell with you! I'll buy my own! And tonight, the Million Dollar Belt is on the line--so much as an unsanctioned title can be on the line, anyway. As DiBiase comes to the ring to his ridiculous "Money, Money, Money, Money, Money" theme song, we go to Mean Gene with The Snake. And oh my god, is this interview a thing of beauty. It's actually the interview that Barry Blaustein uses in Beyond the Mat to show what a badass Jake was in his prime. In fact, transcription isn't enough for this one. Here it is, in all its glory:

"Wallowing in the muck of avarice." Jesus, is this guy the king or what? (I mean, other than the Macho King.)

Match 11: "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase (w/Virgil) vs. Jake "The Snake" Roberts (w/Damien), ostensibly for the Million Dollar Championship

Gorilla and Jesse keep playing this up as a million dollars on the line, which is appropriate, as it stresses that this isn't a real title. After an initial quick-pace exchange, Jake goes for the DDT almost immediately, and DiBiase bails for the outside as soon as he feels Jake's arms around his head. Another exchange of hiplocks and elbows, and Jake goes for his finisher again. While Jesse thinks it's a mistake, Gorilla claims it's smart to try to get the quick win because that's less time to worry about Virgil at ringside. Or Jake could just be trying to psyche out DiBiase, you nincompoops. Roberts slaps on a hammerlock behind DiBiase's back, and the pace of the match slows to a deliberate, psychological pace. A few knees into the arm, and Jake continues to soften up the wrist (the "subscapularis area" according to Monsoon, which, no), taunting DiBiase and urging him to give up the whole time. "Say it!" DiBiase eventually gets to his feet and reverses the hammerlock, only to have Jake run toward the ropes and use leverage to toss DiBiase out of the ring. Good stuff.

Back in the ring, both men attempt Irish Whips and eventually Ted catches Roberts with an elbow to the back of the neck when Jake puts his head down. He whips Jake into the turnbuckle, but the Snake catches him with a knee as Ted charges in, and then tries to follow up with a trademark Roberts kneelift, only to have Ted dodge, sending Jake into the air and on his head. The whole sequence is stupid pretty. DiBiase looks out to the crowd, yells "now!" and goes to work on Roberts with repeated elbows to the neck, softening Jake up for the Million Dollar Dream finisher.

And here, as Ted slips a front facelock on Roberts, the audience starts the wave. Fuuuuuck that. Two of the best in the company at ring psychology going at it, and these rubes are doing the wave. Someday i'm going to meet Edge and Christian in person, and i'm going to ask them if they took part in the wave instead of watching this match, and they will say "yes," because they were dumb kids, and i will shake my head in disapproval. Shame on 65,000 people!

DiBiase gets the crowd's attention back, though, when he hits a nasty sit-down piledriver on Roberts, playing to the crowd for the boos. He goes in for a lazy pin and Roberts reverses it into a sunset flip-style pin for not even a one count. DiBiase back on the attack here as he drops more knees into Jake's back. This is a slow-moving match, but it's fun to watch these guys make full use of every moment. When you're not highspotting all over the ring, even a routine kneelift can look debilitating.

DiBiase waits for Jake to stand up and eventually locks on the Cobra Clutch Million Dollar Dream! Jake fights, but eventually collapses onto the mat, fortuitously draping his foot over the bottom rope and breaking the hold. "Awwww, he took the cheap way out!" jeers Jesse. "The cheap way out? That's survival!" protests Gorilla. Virgil knocks Jake's foot off the rope and Ted goes for a pin, but Jake drapes the foot again, forcing a break. So Ted drags him to the middle of the ring for one more cover, but Jake's had time to rest and is able to kick out. DiBiase, getting frustrated, hops onto the second turnbuckle, pleading for Jake to get up and become reacquainted with his flying double-axehandle, but instead Ted's belly meets Jake's fist in his way down! Whoops! Jake hits a pair of clotheslines, and the crowd is chanting for the DDT. Big sequence here. Irish whip into a backdrop, and Jake starts to play to the crowd, asking them what move they would like to see next. Perhaps an armbar? Perhaps the moss covered, three handled family grudunzle? Oh, they want the DDT. Well, sure, that makes sense. Jake hits the short clothesline, and that's his setup move. He makes the signal and the crowd goes nuts! But DiBiase desperately grabs at the referee's leg in order to prevent the finish, pushing everyone toward the ropes...where Virgil is able to pull Jake out of the ring behind the ref's back. Dis. Virgil gets slammed to the floor for his trouble, but he's up in time to make the save when DiBiase slaps on the Dream outside the ring, only to get rammed into the post. Jake is on the floor, completely gassed, and Virgil tosses DiBiase back into the ring behind the ref's back and before the 10-count. We have a winner! The Million Dollar Man retains the Million Dollar Belt!

Winner: Ted DiBiase by countout in 11:50

DiBiase gloats in the ring as Jesse points out that an unsanctioned title can be won on a countout, which, sure, why not. Of course, they're just buying Jake some time to come into the ring, clean house, and finally hit the DDT post-match on The Million Dollar Man. Jake grabs a bunch of DiBiase's $100 bills and passes them out to the crowd, including Mary Tyler Moore, who doesn't really need it. What happened to the people who needed the money for bills, man?

Virgil comes back in time to bail out his boss as Jake unleashes Damien from his sack (heh), and they all hightail it back to the dressing room. Match of the night so far, at least.

Back on the fake locker room set, Sean Mooney is standing by with Akeem and his manager, Slick, as the completely culturally sensitive and not at all racist African Dream is preparing for a match with his former Twin Towers partner, The Big Boss Man. You know, everything changed in the WWF when the Twin Towers fell. Mooney explains that this split happened when the Boss Man wouldn't take a bribe from Ted DiBiase or some shit, so Slick goes into full pimp mode and yells that "MO-NAAAAYYYY is what it's all about!" And some shit about being stoked that DiBiase won his Million Dollar Belt back because he's giving Akeem and him thousands of reasons to make the Boss Man serve Hard Time, and who cares. It's all very What's Happening!, except for where this white asshole is jiving around in a custom-made yellow African caricature mu-mu. If he wants a new tag partner, i know a fatass in Springfield who's gaining weight to go on disability and operate the power plant from home.

Mean Gene is with the Big Bossman, who says DiBiase is SCUM! Maybe rich scum, but SCUM nonetheless! And he doesn't take money from SCUM! In fact, he doesn't take money from anybody! (Except Vince McMahon.) Oh, and here's where shit gets real. "I don't need that pimp manager by my side, and i'm proud to walk to the ring without some tribal reject from Africa who's too fat to fit in a pot!" (Like, a Bugs Bunny cannibal pot? Oh, wow.) "And i'm proud to wear the badge! And i'm proud to be an American! RRRRAAAAH!" *exits scene* Well, ok then. I guess i shouldn't be surprised--he is from Georgia.

Match 12: The Big Boss Man vs. Akeem (W/Slick)

Akeem comes out to "Jive Soul Bro," Slick's theme music. I think the video for this song prominently features Slick eating watermelon, and i'm not joking about that. Boss Man comes out to some southern lady singing about serving Hard Time when you mess with him, and ok, i suppose he's probably not that racist if he has a fifth-rate Aretha Franklin singing his entrance music? I dunno, racial politics in professional wrestling get pretty muddled. Anyway, Boss Man immediately gets jumped by Ted DiBiase, of all people, who manages to get the Boss Man up for a bodyslam before ramming him into the ringpost. Now, that's pretty impressive. He throws Boss Man into the ring, and i guess the match has started? I didn't hear a bell, but whatever. Avalanche by Akeem in the corner, and Boss Man takes a bunch of miscellaneous fatass offense before fighting back in the corner with a boot to Akeem's stupid face. Turnbuckle shots on Akeem, a clothesline, a few punches, and a sidewalk slam, and mercifully this is over in like a minute and a half. Aaaand a ham hock to Slick's face for good measure. Whoopdeeshit.

Winner: Big Boss Man via pinfall in like a minute and a half

Sean Mooney is in the crowd talking about Rhythm N' Blues getting ready to perform their new "hit single," which was touched on by Steve Allen earlier. Oh...that's a thing that's going to happen now? Oh, good. My response to this is not unlike that of the little kid that Sean Mooney interviews here. "Are you excited to hear the Honky Tonk Man and Greg 'The Hammer' Valentine's new single?" "No! Dey can't sing, dey can't dance, dey can't westle, dey can't do anything!" I don't know what's more rad, that kid, or Mary Tyler Moore humoring Mooney when he tries asking her about R&B. "So, we'll be hearing from Rhythm & Blues. Now, i'm sure you have all The Honky Tonk Man's albums." *Mary smiles & nods* "Yes." "How about his new partner, Greg 'The Hammer' Valentine?" "Yeah, how about him?" Nice save, Mary. You have no idea what the hell Sean is talking about, and that's ok. "Who would you say the Honky Tonk Man reminds you of? Elvis?" "Sure." It goes on like this.

Oh my god, this segment is a trainwreck. Honky's singing out of rhythm, Valentine is barely audible on vocals and terribly miming guitar, there are shrill background singers--excuse me, "Honkettes"--and Jimmy Hart's singing along somewhere in there, but if this is his way of reliving his past glories as lead singer of the Gentrys, then i'm kind of sad for him, even though this is completely ridiculawesome. But then, while Honky Tonk is cueing up for a reprise, he's distracted by a pair of "vendors" at ringside selling non-Honky-Tonk-approved merchandise. As he yells at them he realizes that it's Luke and Butch, the Bushwhackers, and they storm the ring, chasing out the Ryhthm & Blues posse and proceeding to destroy their guitars, stomping around the ring and yelling "WOOOOOAH!" and "YEEEEAAAAAAYYY!" Well, i'll give 'em this--it was better than having to see a match between these two teams.

Speaking of matches: FUN FACT--did you know these early 'Manias had a shit-ton of 'em? We still have one more to go before the main event! Jesus! Fortunately for us, it features a favorite of this blog, the Ravishing One, Rick Rude. And after Howard Finkel announces the SkyDome record attendance of 67,678, the man makes his way to the ring with Bobby Heenan as Steve Allen stops by the broadcast booth. Here we go!

Match 13: "Ravishing" Rick Rude (w/Bobby Heenan) vs. "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka

Oh, Rude's wrestling a past-his-prime Jimmy Snuka. Well, i had my hopes up for a second there. Snuka makes his way to the ring to some 80s stock corporate orientation video music--if it weren't for the "SUPER SUPER SUPERFLY" vocal sample at the beginning, i'd have thought we were about to get some crazy rad sensitivity training about harassment in the workplace. Instead, we get Steve Allen harassing Jimmy Snuka's appearance on the mic. "Do you know one time a vampire flew into his room, and he was so ugly, the vampire bit the bedpost instead! It was that bad." Terrible joke, Steve--everyone knows vampires can't enter your home without an invitation.

This is actually Snuka's first ever WrestleMania match, his prime with the company coming before the Hogan era really kicked into gear. Rude jumps him early, pummeling him with fists and whipping Snuka to the ropes, which Snuka grabs, thwarting a Rude dropkick attempt. Rude proceeds to bump like crazy for Snuka, taking a pair of high backflips and almost literally flying out of the ring after a Snuka dropkick. Eventually Rick gets control back, though, as he counters a third backdrop attempt with an elbow, but Snuka strikes back by slamming Rude's head into the mat. More back and forth until Snuka gets Rude on the mat and climbs to the top rope for some trademark Superfly action, but Rude gets up and staggers to the corner, resulting in a harmless leapfrog. Snuka slams him to the mat and tries for a flying headbutt off the second rope, but Rude dodges and Snuka suffers blunt head trauma on the mat, perhaps resulting in undetermined craniocerebral injuries. Rude hits the Rude Awakening reverse neckbreaker, and that's all she wrote. Rude says "that's enough making this guy look good," and 1, 2, 3. Thanks for coming, Superfly.

Winner: Rick Rude via pinfall in 3:59

OK. It's finally time. The Ultimate Challenge. Now we can sweep all this other inconsequential shit out of the way and focus on the important things in life--one barely-competent musclebound shithammer vs. another barely-competent musclebound shithammer. But first, let's revisit the various encounters between these shithammers that got us to this moment:

ROYAL RUMBLE 1990: Ultimate Warrior and Hulk Hogan clear the ring, staring each other down and no-selling each other's shit before a brutal double clothesline lays them both out!

SATURDAY NIGHT'S MAIN EVENT: Hogan and Warrior are victorious in tag team competition against Mr. Perfect and "The Genius" Lanny Poffo, but when the losers jump the winners in the ring, Warrior accidentally clotheslines Hogan! The classic "did he mean to do that or not?" puzzle! DRAMA!

THE MAIN EVENT: Earthquake climbs to the second rope to squash the third dimension out of the Warrior, when Hogan runs into the ring to bail out his fellow musclebound shithammer! He decks the flying fatass and sends him careening to the ring floor, which shockingly does not induce a 5.0-scale quake in the building! Warrior, however, protests that he did not need Hogan's help, because he is the Alpha-male warrior of Parts Unknown, and has been granted mystical powers by the sword of Greyskull or some shit!

WWF SUPERSTARS: Earthquake is dressed in a shit-brown unitard and is gearing up to splatter all over Hogan! This time it's the Warrior's turn to come to the rescue and clothesline the hell out of Earthquake! Hogan protests that he didn't need Warrior's help, as Warrior didn't give him any time whatsoever to Hulk up and no-sell that shit. Warrior runs out of the ring before Hogan can process a damn thing, and he runs straight to the Toronto SkyDome, which brings us to RIGHT FUCKING NOW!

Match 14: Hulk Hogan (WWF World Champion) vs. The Ultimate Warrior (Intercontinental Champion)--title vs. title match

Because the Intercontinental Title is something that Hulk Hogan covets after having been the world champ for five out of the last six years? Eh, whatever. The Ultimate Warrior runs to ringside at full Todd Coffey speed and Jesse Ventura says it's a mistake. "He should be saving his energy!" Jess, he gets his energy from the gods or the constellations or something. He has reserves, like Conan the Aardvark or whatever. He also has his facepaint design splayed across his chest like Iron Man's unibeam. So if he gets into a test of strength with Hogan, he can shoot him across the ring with a giant fucking laser. Coooool.

And here comes Hogan! He tears off his t-shirt as Warrior stands on a turnbuckle and mimes his trademark gorilla press move. The crowd is freaking out. Mind you, every WrestleMania main event up to this moment has put the top babyface up against the most hated heel in the game; to acknowledge that putting the top two babyfaces against each other in a dream match is where the money is this year is a pretty huge deal, and a million dollar storyline (apologies to Mr. DiBiase). The bell rings, and Dave Hebner gives last-minute instructions while removing the title belts. And Jesse Ventura is in the awkward position of not having a heel to slant his commentary toward, so he points out that Hogan smartly walked to the ring and conserved his energy. It's really weird to hear Ventura say something complimentary towards Hulk Hogan, let me tell you.

The opening minutes are all even-steven booking--a shove here and there, and then Warrior throws Hogan into a corner! Then it's Hogan's turn to throw Warrior into a corner! But Hogan throws in a little extra flexing, so i guess edge: Hogan? (Wait, Edge is in the audience, so no.) Test of strength! Warrior gets the early advantage and gets Hogan to his knees, until he struggles and fights back to his feet and forces Warrior down! It's a toss-up, everyone! This is actually a pretty great way to kill a lot of time with two minimally-skilled workers while maintaining a hot crowd with some drama. I know as a high schooler i was riveted.

Warrior fights back up, and Hogan sweeps his leg, hits a quick elbow and scores a one-count before Warrior pops back up and hits his chest like he is great powerful ape thing. More alternating of moves as Hogan slams Warrior into a no-sell, and Warrior slams Hogan, who actually sells pain! First advantage of the match goes to the Warrior, who clotheslines Hogan out of the ring, causing him to land awkwardly on his leg and sell a blown knee! As the ref checks his leg, Hogan says "my knee's gone" and has to contend with Warrior coming out to land some kicks. "I can't blame him--you see the injury, you gotta go after it," says Jess. I think he's just happy someone's not playing nice. Warrior throws Hogan back into the ring and attacks the knee some more, causing Hogan to rake Warrior's eye in desperation. Warrior responds in kind, and pretty soon Dave Hebner is trying to pry apart the combatants as they lean into the ropes. "Yeah! Let the two goody-two-shoes throw out the rulebook and get nasty!" Jesse's loving it.

Suddenly, Hogan Hulks up a little bit and stops selling the knee injury, throwing some punches into Warrior's melon and whipping him into the ropes with an immediate clothesline follow-up (side note: i've always appreciated how Hogan always immediately clotheslines his opponent after an Irish whip into the corner, never giving his opponent a chance to dodge the thing. Give the devil his due). Gorilla starts to cover for Hogan no-selling the knee. "He might have just temporarily dislocated the patella--the kneecap, Jess--and it mighta slipped right back in again." Good save, Gorilla. Complete horseshit, but the judges will accept it. Bodyslam, elbowdrops, and Hogan starts scoring two-counts. Hogan slaps on a front facelock. Monsoon exclaims that it's a debilitating hold. "Absolutely--ask Richard Belzer." Bless your heart, Jess. Woah, Hogan knows a small package? He rolls up Warrior for a two!

One of the great things about this match is that everyone--especially the two participants--realizes that neither of these guys are known for their technical acumen, so each guy pulls something new out of their repertoire in order to throw the other guy off. Hogan hits a back suplex; Warrior responds with a vertical suplex. These guys couldn't flip pancakes before this match; now their flipping each other around! Sure, it's still kinda clumsy, but i guess you don't get much practice suplexing people when you're used to working programs with Andre the Giant and fucking Earthquake.

Hey, it's rest hold time! These guys are still who they are, after all. Hogan throws on a long chinlock and follows it up with a knee to "the cervical vertebrae area." "No, Gorilla, it's the back." Warrior fights up, and they criss-cross in the ring until the fateful double-clothesline! Both men are on the mat and Dave Hebner starts the slow ten-count--so slow that It's been 15 seconds and Hebner's only gotten to three by the time both men get up. Now it's Warrior's turn to no-sell as Hogan tries to punch him silly. Dude, don't punch Warrior while he's shaking the ropes--that's how the gods conduct energy into his body! Three running clotheslines on Hogan, and Warrior tosses him pillar to post until Hogan clings to Warrior's boot in desperation. So weird how Hogan took so many heel moves--eye rakes, groveling--and turn them into his signature babyface schtick. Maybe he was just taunting the heels? "Ha ha, fuckers--i'm so popular that i can do all your underhanded shit and no one cares! Nyeah nyeah!"

Warrior hits that vertical suplex i mentioned for a two-count, and then picks Hogan up into a bear hug. Oh, good, this was so thrilling when it happened at 'Mania III. This goes on...for...a while...jeez, how long do they need to talk through their next sequence? "Uh, what comes after the snapmare?" "Uh...i know?" "Uh, no...." "Hey, Hebner's dropping your arm three times! We gotta move!"The bearhug breaks and Warrior runs to the ropes and....runs right into Hebner, who does a classic Hebner ref bump. NO REF BUMPS BETTER THAN A HEBNER. It's a rule.

OK, time for each wrestler to score a non-counted pin against the other guy. Warrior starts off with two flying double-axehandles, and then gets pancaked as Hogan uses his momentum against him. Hogan with the first no-ref pin! Warrior suplexes Hogan and gets a non-pin of his own. "Well, i guess we call it two out of three falls now, one fall apiece!" Hebner finally is crawling as Hogan climbs over Warrior, and now it's time for the classic DRAMATIC HURT HEBNER SLOW COUNT.

ONE! ........................


TWO! ......................



Hogan rolls up Warrior again and Hebner's WAY out of position! ONE!




Where did Hogan learn all these different pins? Normally he just has to drape over a dude after the big legdrop. Hulkster elbows Warrior out of the ring and Warrior does a 360 onto the floor, where they fight some more until Warrior rams Hogan's head into the ringpost. Hogan gets rolled back into the ring and eats a Warrior clothesline, and Warrior goes for the gorilla press! He hoists Hogan over his head and drops him like a sack of laundry to the mat. Warrior is so gassed at this point (he's about 17 minutes over his usual match time at this, the 21-minute mark) that he can barely jump into the air to splash Hogan, but he hits it and rolls Hogan over. ONE! TWO! ...KICKOUT!

And here comes the usual bullshit Hogan ending. We saw it last year, when he took a vicious beating from Savage for 17 minutes, only to no-sell and hit the punches, big boot and legdrop in the closing 15 seconds. Snooze city. Punch! Punch! Punch! Big boot and....MISS! The Warrior dodges the legdrop, which hasn't been done....ever?!? Warrior hits the splash and ONE! TWO! THREE!


Warrior celebrates as the SkyDome goes bonkers, having witnessed true history being made. Hogan, meanwhile, grabs what is no longer his title belt, and slowly makes his way into the ring, selling dejection the whole time. The audience settles to a hush as Hogan faces the Warrior...and presents him with the belt, raising his hand and embracing him in a show of class and sportsmanship. Hogan knows he's been beat fair and square, and since it hasn't happened in nine fucking years, why not salute the guy who did it? Gorilla Monsoon proclaims that "Hulk Hogan has taken one giant step toward immortality," and for years to come we get to hear Hogan referred to as "The Immortal Hulk Hogan." Well, how nice. Jesse proclaims that "i believe that Hulkamania may indeed live forever," and cats are now officially living with dogs. It's mass hysteria at the SkyDome! Up is Down! Canada is Mexico! And fireworks blast as we sign off from Toronto, which is now Acapulco!

So the Ultimate Warrior embarked on his 10-month title reign, which led him through a few defenses against Rick Rude and a bunch of non-title six-man tag matches with the Road Warriors against the three-man Demolition team of Ax, Smash, and Crush. Unfortunately for Warrior, this didn't exactly thrill the masses, and by next January's Royal Rumble, there was a war in Iraq to capitalize on, and an American turncoat Iraqi sympathizer to put the belt on. Boy, you thought there wasn't a lot of wrestling in this main event? At least there were suplexes! Wait until next year, when Hulk Hogan tries to take the title from a 43-year-old Sgt. Slaughter!

Seriously, wait for it. It's gonna take me some time to drum up the patience to sit through that shitpile for the first time since it aired. Oy. 'Merica.


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