Monday, May 26, 2014

WWE Network World Tour: WrestleMania VII

Guys, i am not looking forward to this recap. Let's not get too flowery about it and just resign ourselves to the fact that we're about to slog through a whole bunch of hot garbage when it comes to WrestleMania VII. We've got two of the company's best talents, Rick Martel and Jake Roberts, in a match where they can't see each other. We've got Virgil turning on Ted DiBiase. Sure, we've got Randy Savage propping up The Ultimate Warrior, and we've got the Hart Foundation in a tag title match, but we also have--if memory serves, and knowing that i haven't revisited this PPV since it aired in 1991 leads me to think i'm right--a steaming pile of rancid horse crap of a main event, where WWF World Champion Sergeant Slaughter defends against Hulk Hogan. "Oh, hey, DJ--shit, isn't this the match where Slaughter is a pro-Iraqi turncoat?"


Wrestling has a long, inglorious history of co-opting or exploiting current events to make money. One of the WWF's best heels ever, The Iron Sheik, won the World Title from all-American goody-two-shoes Bob Backlund when the Iran hostage crisis was still fresh in America's memory. Decades of "Russian" wrestlers terrorized wrestling rings with their cold war chicanery. So when, in 1990 and 1991, the WWF began to exploit Iraq's invasion of Kuwait and the subsequent Gulf War, it wasn't particularly shocking, but it was particularly awful.

Not because it's completely crass and tasteless to profit off a war resulting in innocent lives being snuffed out in the collateral damage of SCUD missiles (although i'm sure Vince McMahon would tell us they were telling a morality tale to boost morale back home, like Captain America socking Hitler in the jaw), but because it was just so goddamn lazy. The moment that "Macho King" Randy Savage cracked The Ultimate Warrior over the head with his scepter at the 1991 Royal Rumble, leading directly to Sgt. Slaughter pinning the Warrior for the title seconds later, everyone knew that the WrestleMania VII main event was going to feature Slaughter dropping the title back to a Real American (and Jack Swagger and Cesaro weren't around yet, so guess who?). And frankly, i like to think i wasn't alone in being completely sick of Hulk Effing Hogan.

Well, shit. Let's get on with this then.

(NOTE: WWE Network rates this show a "TV-14" for violence, probably because Hogan blades in his match, but really because children under 14 shouldn't be exposed to nakedly cynical cash-ins.)

Well, we kick off this event with some pretty bad compositing of Slaughter and Hogan glowering at each other over a stars-and-stripes-based background, but we get a quick shot of Slaughter burning a "Hulk Rules" t-shirt (because he refused to burn an American flag, no matter how much McMahon asked him), so that's pretty cool. I'd root for Slaughter in this match just for that if it weren't for the fact that he sucks and can't wrestle and sucks.

We're 16,158 strong at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena. HEY WAIT--didn't they say last year that WrestleMania VII would be held at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum? Didn't they say new attendance records would be set? Oh, they sure did! However, "security concerns" caused the WWF to move to the smaller venue. By "security concerns," they meant they were unsure of how secure a quarter-full coliseum would be, because no one was buying tickets to see Hogan vs. Slaughter.

However, we do get Willie Nelson singing "America the Beautiful," and that's pretty boss. He's wearing a "Hulk Rules" banner, Bret Hart shades, a 'Mania t-shirt and a toy title belt, and he's belting this out a capella in his classic, silky, smooth-as-fuck croon, and he's absolutely killing it. The crowd is eating it up and asking for seconds, because it's Willie Goddamn Nelson and he kicks more ass than Haku and the Barbarian combined. It's all downhill from here, folks.

Gorilla Monsoon is introducing the show by himself. Wait--no Jesse? Where the shit is Jesse? *quick Wikipedia scramble* Oh...yeah, ok, i suppose suing the WWF for royalty fraud is one way to lose your commentary job. So ok, let's see who we've got replacing The Body. Gorilla says the opening match commentary is going to be assisted by...Hacksaw...Jim...oh god...Duggan. Fuck this Pay-Per-View already.

I already want to punch this pay-per-view in the taint

Hacksaw says the Ultimate Warrior is better trained and better conditioned than the Macho King, and he thinks Hogan's going to win back the title "in front of hundreds of people and millions on TV." Hundreds. Let's, uh...let's go straight to the first match, since Sean Mooney's subsequent interview with the Rockers is pretty unremarkable.

Match 1: The Rockers (Shawn Michaels & Marty Jannetty) vs. Haku & the Barbarian (w/Bobby Heenan)

Haku & Barbarian go on to some minor notoriety in WCW as the Faces of Fear, although they accomplished about as much in that company as they did in the WWF. The Rockers, in a little piece of historical trivia, almost came into this PPV as the WWF Tag Team Champs--they actually defeated the Hart Foundation in October of 1990 in a best-of-three-falls match during which one of the ring ropes broke. The broken rope threw off both teams so badly that the match became unairable, and thus, the WWF put the belts back on the Harts, never acknowledging the match on TV (kayfabe wrestling magazines that reported on house shows explained that the decision was reversed because the broken ring ropes created an unsafe and unfair condition for both teams, which really was the best they could come up with). Bobby Heenan is resplendent in a sequined black jacket, and Hacksaw is already driving me mad on commentary.

Early control by Haku in the opening minute, but after a series of leapfrogs, Shawn Michaels scores on a shoulderblock and a flurry of fists. Shawn tags to Marty and they do their trademark double-underhook/double-elbowdrop/double kip-up move on Haku, then run toward the on-charging Barbarian, who clobbers both Rockers with clotheslines that make the pretty boys spin in midair. Seriously, Shawn and Marty make it look like they got beheaded. But the Rockers recover and send Barbarian out of the ring to recoup after a double crescent kick, which is what Gorilla called it, so i'll go with it. Meanwhile, Hacksaw is babbling about how proud he is to see all the stars and stripes on the fans here in the Arena, because USA! USA! USA!

After instructions from Heenan to bring the Rockers into their corner, Barbarian resets against Jannetty and takes control with a knife-edge and a headbutt, but after a few back-and-forth moves, Jannetty ends up on the Barbarian's shoulders, at which point Michaels dropkicks his opponent, sending the momentum into a Jannetty hurricanrana! Not bad. But Barbarian gets the tag to Haku, and a double headbutt puts them back in control, leading to a fun tease of the same Rockers double-team. Jannetty ends up on Haku's shoulders this time, but when Michaels comes in to do the dropkick again, the ref stops him, and behind the distraction Barbarian grabs Marty's hair, and when Haku walks him over to the ropes, Barbarian guillotines Jannetty and it looks nasty. Mary's clutching his throat as Haku taunts the crowd. Pretty entertaining opening match thus far!

Haku and the Barbarian keep control as Barbarian hits a gorilla press slam and Haku follows with two brutal backbreakers, good for a two-count. Another sick clothesline by the Barbarian and we get a bearhug rest hold as Barbarian calls the next spot, i'm assuming. Jannetty gets thrown into a corner and counters with a shot to Barbarian's chin, but when Jannetty tries to follow it with a second turnbuckle flying bodypress, Barbarian catches him and turns it into a vicious powerslam, which pops the crowd. This crowd seems to be suddenly pro-Haku/Barbarian, just based on the different abusive power moves Barbarian is getting off. Well, maybe the dudes are cheering for the brawlers, because when Jannetty rolls out of the way of Barbarian's flying headbutt, a distinctly high-pitched cheer explodes from the crowd as every girl under the age of 17 in the arena suddenly wants to father Marty's kids. Michaels is pleading for the hot tag, and Jannetty makes it look dramatic before finally hitting it. Now Michaels gets to go to work! He climbs the ropes to bash Haku in the brain with a few punches before leaping backwards to hit a corkscrewing bodypress on an on-charging Barbarian! Nice. Reverse neckbreaker on Haku and it's a two-count, and pretty soon all four men are in the ring. Schmoz time! Barbarian eventually gets knocked out of the ring and Jannetty hits a top-rope dropkick on Haku, followed up by a Shawn Michael flying bodypress that's good for the three-count. Hey! Stop the presses! The Rockers just won a match at WrestleMania! Panties are dropping throughout the arena!

Winners: The Rockers via pinfall in 10:41

The Rockers hug at ringside after what was actually a pretty decent opener, and on the mic i hear Hacksaw saying he's leaving because Heenen's coming over to join Monsoon on commentary. And just like that, things are looking up.

Mean Gene's got all the celebrity guests backstage at once--Regis Philbin, guest timekeeper Marla Maples, and guest ring announcer Alex Trebek. It goes about as well as you'd expect. Regis watched Earthquake knock over a Pizza Hut delivery truck and eat everything inside the other night; Marla Maples is excited to conduct interviews in the men's locker room (UPDATE: This PPV is rated TV-14 due to violence and Marla Maples' apparent thirst for ogling cock), and Trebek goes all "address me in the form of a question, or i will mock you in game show host mode." Gene's a trooper for putting up with this.

Match 2: Dino Bravo (w/Jimmy Hart) vs. "The Texas Tornado" Kerry Von Erich

Heenen's ranting about how he's the only real celebrity at WrestleMania and that Gene refuses to interview him because he would make the other so-called "celebs" look like ham-and-eggers in comparison. Seems legit. So, apparently since last we saw Dino at WrestleMania V, he's traded up in the managerial game and snagged the Mouth of the South, replacing that Frenchy Martin weirdo. Well, i guess that's fine. FUN FACT: This match features two men who eventually died of gunshot wounds. I guess it's a little crass for that to the the first thing i mention for Kerry Von Erich's only WrestleMania appearance ever, but it's what sticks out. Also impressive: this is early enough in his run that he is still being acknowledged as a Von Erich--they haven't dropped his actual name and started billing him solely as the "Texas Tornado" yet. Man, how much time did they spend on coming up with a gimmick for the most famous babyface in 1980s Texas wrestling, like three minutes? "None of our fans know who the hell Kerry Von Erich is. He needs a stupid alliterative nickname, otherwise he's not going to amount to anything! Oh, and i suppose we should tell him to stay off painkillers too, maybe?"

Dino Bravo just tossed the former Intercontinental Champ out of the ring (he's already had his three-month reign between Curt Hennig title runs) and i'm reminded that Von Erich wrestled on one foot and one prosthetic from, like, 1986 on, and didn't tell anyone. Dude just took an over-the-tope-rope bump with one foot! OK, i'll stop snarking on him now, because that's impressive--as is the atomic drop he lays on Bravo when he gets back in the ring to take control. Kerry tries to land the claw on Dino's face early, but Bravo blocks it and instead they try to whip each other into the corner, Kerry landing the advantage before Dino catches him with a boot to the face, an atomic drop, and an elbow for a two-count. Bravo hits his side suplex finisher but Von Erich kicks out at two, and Heenan heels on the ref. "Come on! Anyone's grandmother could have kicked out of that slow count!"

Finally, Von Erich slaps on the claw, and the crowd has no idea how to react, because apparently no one in Los Angeles has heard of Baron Von Raschke. So since the claw's not popping the crowd, Von Erich hits his spinning "tornado punch," which livens up the crowd and leads to the pinfall. Heh...classic old school submission hold does nothing for the crowd, but a gimmicky spinning punch gets a big pop. That's the story of Kerry Von Erich's WWF run in a nutshell.

Winner: Kerry Von Erich The Texas Tornado via pinfall--Dino Bravo goes down in 3:11 (HAR HAR)

Gorilla: "Let's go back to Sean in the locker room area!" Heenan: "Who?"

Sean Mooney is backstage with the dorkier-looking of the two ex-members of the Powers of Pain, the Warlord, who is sporting a Phantom of the Opera-style silver facemask and a scepter with a "W" on it. Why they paired him with "The Doctor of Style," Slick, when Warlord obviously has no sense of fashion is beyond me. Maybe Vince McMahon is a much more subtle fan of irony than i have ever given him credit for? (Wait, what's the main event again? Yeah, no, he's not.) Slick starts rambling a bunch of nonsensical dog references, since his charge is about to take on The British Bulldog, Davey Boy Smith--the one member of the British Bulldogs tag team that never used flying headbutts in the ring and thus can still walk. "Every dog has his day, and you're about to get fixed, Davey Boy, because as every dog knows--when ya gotta go, ya gotta go." What? Warlord follows up by pointing out that no WWF Superstar to date has escaped his full nelson. Ah, hell--his finisher is a full nelson? So, what, since Hercules is a tag team jobber now, we need someone else to put over one of the more boring submission holds this side of the abdominal stretch? Slick babbles some more, and it's largely annoying, so let's go to Mean Gene with Davey Boy and WINSTON THE PUPPY. YAY. (What happened to Matilda? Did Dynamite Kid get custody in the divorce?)

Ah, yes, it's the "Davey Boy has braids" era. Winston apparently tells Davey Boy to tell Gene that there's no bull in this bulldog, but then i look at his hair and i feel like he's making things up. So, this is apparently going to be a battle of competing finishers--the full nelson vs. the powerslam. Dammit, will NO ONE bring back the heart punch in my lifetime? If we're gonna go old school, let's go Stan Stasiak old school.

Match 3: The Warlord (w/Slick) vs. "The British Bulldog" Davey Boy Smith (w/Winston)

Gorilla says, "don't look for too many flying leg scissors, don't look for too many dropkicks...this is going to be a matchup of pure power!" He's all excited saying it, too, as if to imply that it's exciting. IT'S NOT EXCITING. Early shoulder block collision goes to the Warlord, but after a forearm to Davey's back, they bounce off the ropes again, and Davey Boy leaves his feet to knock the Warlord off his, and his shoulder block knocks Warlord out of the ring. But Warlord pops back in and gets the advantage with some elbow drops, whips Smith into the turnbuckles (where there's an audible *PING* that oohs the crowd), and oh good, a bearhug. Let's focus more on Heenan running down Winston. "If Bulldog cracked a rib on that move, he can always grab an extra bone from that mangy mutt over there--" "Will you stop? I'll have you taken out of here in a second." "The HOST of WrestleMania VII?"

Davey Boy breaks free with that move where you clap your hands together behind your opponent's head and he acts like you just slapped his ears or temples or i'm not sure what, but when he bounces off the ropes, the Warlord catches him and drops his neck over the top rope in a guillotine. That never doesn't look painful, as long as the dude lands right. When they get back up, Warlord hits a sequence that ends with him picking Davey Boy up into a speedy belly-to-belly release suplex, and ok, that's pretty impressive...more so than this chinlock, anyway. Davey fights back to his feet, though, eventually headbutting Warlord and connecting with a dropkick! Hey! Gorilla! You distinctly said there would be no dropkicks! I demand a refund!

The two muscle dudes put together a good, if standard, sequence where Davey hits a high cross-body block for a two, then tries a piledriver, only to have Warlord flip him over his back, which Davey turns into a sunset flip attempt, which Warlord counters by dropping onto his knees to try to pin Davey Boy, who then lifts his legs and hooks Warlord's shoulders, completing the sunset flip attempt for another two-count. As routine a sequence as King's pawn to e4, but give 'em credit for doing it smoothly. Davey Boy eats a boot to the face and he's on his back, as Heenan says, "any average man, this match would have been over 10 minutes ago." This match, which is about seven minutes old so far.

Warlord slaps on the full nelson! Oh, god, now we're back to the ol' "the fingers are not locked! It's not over yet!" nonsense. Davey Boy powers out and the crowd goes nutty as Davey Boy picks up the Warlord and hits the running powerslam. 1, 2, 3, and the crowd goes wild (it really does! Huh!) as Slick protests that Davey Boy pulled the trunks. They show a replay that clearly shows a clean pinfall as Heenan says "did he pull the trunks? I can't tell from this vantage point." Heenan lives in a house of lies. There was actually more to talk about in this match than i expected there to be. Hey, give it two stars instead of one, i guess!

Winner: Davey Boy Smith via pinfall at 8:15

Oh, hey, it's the Nasty Boys, aka Hulk Hogan's backstage buddies, Brian Knobbs and Jerry Sags! FUN FACT: My younger brother Kris, a former backyard wrestler who sometimes moonlights as a referee for some very local wrestling promotions, once officiated a match where the Nasty Boys ended up putting their opponents into an outhouse or something! I'd need him to tell the story, but the important thing is that by brother ended up hanging out with Jimmy Hart, who is about two feet shorter than Kris (and yet told him to "never trust a midget") and five times as loud (as exemplified by his horrific bon mot, "never trust a midget"). That story is awesome, by the way. Mean Gene is with them here as they are getting set to challenge the Hart Foundation, who took the WWF World Tag Team Titles from Demolition back at SummerSlam '90. I'm interested in seeing if the Nasty Boys were ever anything resembling good wrestlers, or if they always have been basically a pair of garbage workers (i.e. brawling and foreign objects out the wazoo, not necessarily garbage as in quality...altho let's not discuss their work since they've gotten old and fatter).

Brian Knobbs just yelled that it's time to put an end to the "stink in pink." Does that phrase mean what he thinks it means? Both guys take turns blowing snot into Mean Gene's handkerchief, and Gene looks like he's gonna throw up before he sends it to Sean Mooney and the champs. "Gentlemen, you have to admit that the Nasty Boys were blowing more than hot air." Uh, yeah, Sean--did you not just see the torrent of boogers? Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart is in rare form, cackling and screaming and ranting about how the Nasty Boys think they're going to crack the Foundation, but to do that you have to be on the bottom, and that's just where they're gonna say, and tell 'em Hitman. Bret says you've gotta have heart to beat the Harts, and the Nasty Boys aren't nasty, they're just scum. Not his best work, but whatever, it's just nice to see my boys working.

Match 4: The Hart Foundation (Bret "Hitman" Hart & Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart)(c) vs. The Nasty Boys (Brian Knobbs & Jerry Sags w/Jimmy Hart) for the WWF World Tag Team Championship

Hahahaha, i totally forgot about how Jimmy Hart used to wear a motorcycle helmet at ringside when he managed the Nastys. Throw in his megaphone, and that's two foreign objects for the price of one manager! These guys may be slobs, but they understand the meaning of value. The camera pauses for a shot on some blonde kid at ringside, and Monsoon says "that youngster's thrilled to be here!" And i think, "wait, that looked like Macaulay Culkin," which is immediately answered by Monsoon continuing his thought. "He doesn't wanna be left home alone with any of these guys." Oh shit! Affirmation via pun!

This match is all Hart Foundation at the outset--Hitman starts against Jerry Sags, and after an early cheap flurry of punches by Sags, the Hitman hits a Lou Thesz press (aka the dick-to-the-face) and starts to work over Sags with an armwringer, a leg sweep, and when he gets Sags on the mat, he does the classic Bret Hart "hold the legs, play to the crowd, then stomp the dude in the breadbasket" move. Jerry desperately tags out to Brian Knobbs, who wants the Anvil. The Harts oblige, and Neidhart shoulder tackles Knobbs out of the ring with authoritah! The Nastys try to regroup, and after another Neidhart armwringer, Knobbs backs him into the Nasty's corner, where he tags out to Sags and they gain the advantage over the Anvil. Yeah, not a lot of scientific wrestling from anyone other than Bret in this match--although even the Anvil is a better mat technician than the Nasty Boys.

Sags whips Anvil into the ropes and puts his head down, and gets it thrown into the mat by Neidhart for his trouble. He tags out to Bret and, man, even Bret's punches look like amateur holds the way he throws 'em. He dishes out ten of 'em in the corner, and then hits his classic side Russian leg sweep--one of my favorite Hitman holds. But a brief four-way fracas in the ring leads to Knobbs running into the ring and decking Hitman in the back of the neck as the ref forces Anvil away from the action. The Nastys take control as Anvil chases Jimmy Hart around the ring, much to the delight of the fans. And man, can we talk about the crowd noise at WrestleMania VII? The LA Memorial Sports Arena has the acoustics of a high school gym. I'm half expecting Ric Flair to run into the ring from the cafeteria, take out Dick Slater, and cut a promo next to Lance Russell. But no, this isn't 1983 Jim Crockett Promotions, this is 1991 WWF, and WrestleFuckingMania no less.

Anyway. Hitman is now taking the abuse here in the LA Memorial Gymnasium. Sags hits a backbreaker for a two-count, and the audience falls into a hush as they show shock at Jerry Sags executing a wrestling move. He follows up with a more-characteristic knee to the back, and Heenan hilariously pokes fun at Monsoon's bullshit anatomy lessons: "There's one to the cervial dervial part of the back." Sags works a reverse chinlock as Hitman fights against it, but the Nastys keep control as Knobbs gets tagged in. "The Nasty Boys showing a lot of tag team continuity right now," says Monsoon, after they made one freakin' tag in this sequence. Sags comes back in and hits a Rude Awakening-style reverse neckbreaker. Two! Two wrestling moves! A-ha-ha-haaaa.

Finally, Hitman manages to turn around a chinlock into a reverse neckbreaker of his own, and the crowd is yelling for him to make the hot tag to Neidhart! Except that Knobbs runs into the ring and throws a punch at the Anvil, which leads Neidhart to charge into the ring and...promptly get yelled at by referee Dave Hebner for coming into the ring, while Knobbs drops elbows on the Hitman behind the ref's back. You'd think the refs would get briefed ahead of time on who the good guys are and who are the cheaters, but nooooo, Anvil is the one that gets yelled at here. "But ref! He ran into the ring first and punched me!" "And if you don't learn to just ignore him, Anvil, he's going to think that's ok, isn't he?" "HE'S ILLEGALLY DROPPING ELBOWS ON MY PARTNER, REF! RIGHT NOW HE IS DOING THIS!" "Look, Anvil, bullies will be bullies, but you've got to set a good example otherwise they'll just be worse. Be a Star, Anvil." Stupid Hebner. "Ref doing a tremendous job keeping order in this match," says Monsoon. The fuck.

The Nasty Boys work another double team where they whip Hart into a corner, then Sags winds up Knobbs to whip him into an avalanche on Bret. But Bret dodges and falls into Sags with a clothesline while Knobbs crashes into the corner! Sweet sequence as Hitman lies on the mat exhausted. He wants to make a tag so bad! And of course, when he finally does, Hebner has his back turned, yelling at Knobs, so he turns his back to the Nastys and escorts Neidhart out of the ring. Man, Dave Hebner's incompetence is staggering in this match. It's almost as if he has an evil twin in there favoring the heels...nah, couldn't be. That'd be stupid.

Sags holds the Hitman while Knobbs charges at him with Jimmy's megaphone, and of course Bret ducks! The crowd goes nuts as Hitman finally makes a tag in view of the ref, and The Anvil cleans house. Big clothesline and tackle on Knobbs for a two-count. Standing powerslam for a two-count that Sags breaks up, which brings Bret back into the ring. Four-way schmoz is on, and after the Nasty Boys collide with each other, The Anvil hoists Knobbs into a bearhug as Bret plays to the crowd. Hart Attack running clothesline! It should be over here...but goddamn Dave Hebner isn't counting the pin! Nooooo! He'd rather escort the Hitman out of the ring while Jerry Sags annihilates the Anvil with Jimmy's motorcycle helmet behind his back! Jesus H Christ. I've been watching a lot of WrestleMania matches, and by far this is the most useless i have ever seen Dave Hebner be booked in a wrestling match. Of course now he counts the three, and we have new tag team champions. Well, i guess it's worth it for the kid-on-Christmas-morning freakout Jimmy Hart's having, rolling on the ground and cradling one of the tag team belts like he just became the only kid on the block with a full Castle Grayskull playset. Yeesh.

Winners: The Nasty Boys via referee incompetence in 12:10 to win the WWF Tag Team Titles

Well, in the long run this is ok, because Bret Hart now goes solo and goes on to defeat Mr. Perfect in a classic SummerSlam match later this year for the Intercontinental Title. Seriously; it's one of my favorite IC title bouts ever, and you should find it immediately if you've never seen it. Stop reading this and do it now. Come back when you're done. I'll wait. (Oh, sorry -- SPOILER ALERT: Big Boss Man doesn't win the IC Title later tonight. As if.)

And now, we come to one of the worst ideas in WrestleMania history. At the time, i thought it was a super rad, old-school idea, and conjured memories of magazine articles i had read about crazy hardcore gimmick matches from the South, like dog-collar chain matches and coal miner's glove matches. But what didn't occur to me was that the WWF was about to put two of their best workers in the ring against each other without the ability to see. Yes--it is time for the Jake Roberts/Rick Martel blindfold match. Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Press Play on This Match.

The storyline was not altogether non-compelling--during an altercation on the Brother Looooove Show, Rick Martel uses his comically huge bug-spray atomizer of "Arrogance" cologne to spray "The Snake" in the eyes, blinding him for a good several months of attempted payback. While Jake was blinded, he wore hilariously fake contact lenses that whited out one of his eyes, reddened the other, and completely removed any suspension of disbelief from this angle (and when you can't get a wrestling fan to suspend disbelief, you're blowing it). So eventually Jake challenges Martel to meet him on the same level The Model reduced him too, which involves two guys groping aimlessly in the ring instead of one (worse groping than that time Edge and Lita tried to bang each other in a bed in the ring after he won the title, but i digress). Anyway, this is going to be a mess. Let's get this over with.

Match 5: "The Model" Rick Martel vs. Jake "The Snake" Roberts (blindfold match)

Monsoon actually starts off with something intelligent as the fans pop for "The Snake," saying "how important is it to have the fans in your corner in this type of match?" Ah, see, they've probably been building that all month long so that the fans make all sorts of noise for this stink bomb. Two referees are supervising the black hoods being donned by the competitors, and--oh, holy shit--when Jake puts his hand up into the hood as it's being fastened, you can totally see the mesh eye holes in the mask. BWA. HA. HA. So these two are actually gonna just be pretending to grope around aimlessly in the ring. Man, this is totally like when Edge and Lita tried to bang each other in a bed in the ring!

So this starts out with Jake pointing in the general direction of Rick Martel, with the crowd getting louder the closer he gets, but both wrestlers just sort of aimlessly wander past each other a couple times to really sell the whole "we swear we can't see each other" thing. After about a minute of this nonsense, Jake bumps into Rick's foot and he dives to the mat to grab Martel and try for a pin, and it's just a mess, of course. Martel chokes Jake for a while, then manages to get him on his feet and whips The Snake to the ropes. He puts his head down and Jake runs off to the right while the audience laughs at that silly Model for thinking that would actually work! Well, jeez, when people can see, they run right back to you when you whip them in the ropes. Why wouldn't he think wrestling physics behave the same with blindfolds on?

Still more walking around and barely missing each other for like 30 seconds until Martel catches Roberts and pulls of a body slam, which he tries to follow up into an elbow drop, except that Jake has already gotten up and staggered halfway across the ring. Wacky fun! Pratfalls! Oy. How much more of this is there? Martel tries to throw a shoulder into Jake's abdomen, except that it's actually the referee. Guh, just let Jake grab Martel's head and DDT him out of nowhere to end this, already. Fuck.

We're like five minutes into this shit and there have been two wrestling moves. Have i died and gone to hell? Is this my hell? I'm really sorry i made that joke about Kerry Von Erich's suicide, God. No takebacks?

Jake keeps pointing across the ring, and the crowd keeps screaming whenever he's pointing in Martel's direction, but nothing ever comes of it, so why these people aren't saying "fuck it" and heading for the hot dog stand is a mystery to me. I mean, it's not like there are any divas matches on the card that can serve as an intermission. At one point Martel is on all fours and crawling across the mat until he ends up on top of Damien's sack, so i guess it's kinda funny when he recoils in horror and practically lands in Roberts' lap? ....No. No it's not. Fuck me, this is interminable.

Oh, thank Christ, finally. Martel manages, through no fault of his own, to get Jake into the Boston Crab, which Roberts naturally powers out of immediately because he's taken all of two body slams in this match. He finally grabs Martel's head and gets him with the DDT and pins him and that's the end of this nonsense. Jesus, was this worse than The Red Rooster vs. Bobby Heenan? I think this was worse than The Red Rooster vs. Bobby Heenan. At least that match only lasted 30 seconds. "What a tremendous matchup!" Monsoon says. MOVE OUT OF HEENAN'S HOUSE OF LIES, GORILLA.

Winner: Jake Roberts via pinfall in 8 and a half of the longest minutes of my life

Oh, and Jake managed to drape Damien over Martel before he ran out of the ring. So that's nice.

Marla Maples is in the locker room attempting to interview new Tag Team champs the Nasty Boys, hoping they are stripping down for the shower, and instead, it's bedlam. The entire Jimmy Hart stable--Dino Bravo, The Mountie, Earthquake--are all flipping their shit, pouring champagne over the champs, and generally bringing the ruckus. Not one man in this locker room is saying anything remotely intelligible, so Marla throws it back to Monsoon and Heenan. And ya know what? Good. No one in today's WWE celebrates after a title win like it's the biggest moment of their lives anymore. Winning the US, IC or Tag titles is almost no better than winning just another match these days, and that's straight-up dumb. Here, we've got Jimmy Hart's entire menagerie of freaks celebrating gold in the family, and it's a beautiful thing. Yes, even with Earthquake in the mix.

Match 6: Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka vs. The Undertaker (w/Paul Bearer)--STREAK MATCH #1

Oh man! Are you ready for the beginning of the most celebrated achievement in all of professional wrestling? Jimmy Snuka sure as fuck isn't! That dude's got no idea what's in store! It's time for the WrestleMania debut of the Dead Man, as he embarks on two decades of dominance on the biggest stage of his fake sport.

The Undertaker debuted at the 1990 Survivor Series as part of Ted DiBiase's squad, managed puzzlingly by Brother Love (i evangelist and a mortician from the Old West sort of go together, i guess), who then sold his contract to the Svengoolie of the WWF, Paul Bearer, who was the spitting image of the funeral home director in my home town, i swear to god. Seriously, i'm not even joking. If i had a photo i would post it, but the owner of the funeral home in Hilbert, Wisconsin in 1990 TOTALLY was a dead ringer for the former Percy Pringle. It was god damned eerie.

Out comes the Undertaker to the WrestleMania ring, and there's no crazy light show, no smoke machines, no pomp & circumstance...just comes walking out with his music, Paul Bearer, and an urn. That's it. Nothing too fancy yet, as no one has any idea what this is the start of. Bell rings and 'Taker (who looks SO YOUNG!) just stares down Snuka for like 20 seconds, until Snuka walks back to his corner and 'Taker just jumps him and starts taking Snuka apart immediately. This is basically an enhancement match for Undertaker, as he leaps into the air and nearly takes Superfly's head off with a clothesline and then tosses Snuka out of the ring like he's a sack of flour. Snuka fights back with some chops and headbutts, and 'Taker just looks kind of annoyed, like a mosquito's buzzing around his face. After Snuka tries a bodypress and goes sailing out of the ring when 'Taker ducks, he tries again from the apron, which is just stupid, because obviously 'Taker's gonna catch him. Punch to the head, tombstone piledriver, and that's all she wrote. Bobby Heenan is selling it like Snuka just got laid out in his prime, too. "That's Jimmy 'Superfly' Snuka he just did that to!" Well, yeah, but he's also old as shit, so whatever. You think this Snuka's jumping off a cage or taking a coconut to the head from Roddy Piper? The Dead Man has arrived, y'all, and Paul Bearer is stoked. Oooooh, yessssss.

Winner: Undertaker via pinfall in 4:20, dude

As the Undertaker makes his way back to the locker room, we get a video package showing the events leading up to our next match--the match of the night, really: The Ultimate Warrior vs. The "Macho King" Randy Savage, in a career-ending, loser must retire match. Savage had been getting up in the Warrior's business for months leading up to January's Royal Rumble, but no matter how much Sensational Sherri begged or implied sexual favors in return for giving Savage a title match, the Warrior refused, opting instead to defend his title against the turncoat himself, Sgt. Slaughter. So, of course, during that match (officiated by Dave Hebner to allow for maximum outside interference), Savage just bashes the living shit out of Warrior's head with his royal scepter (the actual one, not his penis--this isn't the Attitude era yet), leading to Slaughter's title victory and the Warrior's desire for vengeance against the Macho King. Because what wrestler wouldn't forego his championship rematch in lieu of working the undercard in a grudge match against the dickhead who cost you the strap? And the Warrior even had red, white, and blue trunks for wrestling Slaughter--he would have been fine in the main event. But then what would Hulk Hogan have done--waited until the end of the match to challenge the winner in an impromptu squash? Wait, that's two years from now, not tonight. (Grrrrr.)

Match 7: The Ultimate Warrior vs. Randy "Macho King" Savage (w/Sensational Sherri) -- loser must retire

Just before both wrestlers are introduced, Bobby Heenan notices someone in the audience. "Hey, wait...look over there, doesn't that look like...i think that's Elizabeth! Director! Director! Can we get is! That's Elizabeth! How low can a woman stoop? She's here hoping Savage gets retired! She can't wait to see it!" "Will you stop? You're despicable!"

Savage is carried to the ring once again by his legion of random jobbers, his Queen Sherri at his side, as Elizabeth looks on, seated in a dark portion of the aisle seats. Savage has no idea she's in the building yet, naturally. The camera pans past Sherri's rack and Heenan lets out a "WOW! Look at the Queen! Look at the Queen! WOW!" When Heenan sounds off like a Tex Avery wolf, it's a beautiful thing.

The Ultimate Warrior is walking to the ring, and Heenan is perplexed. "Why isn't he running? Like that maniac usually does?" Nice--the Warrior is conserving his energy, selling the importance and high stakes of this match. Someone taught the Warrior some ring psychology! Sure, it's all being used up in his entrance, but hey! baby steps, right?

Both men cautiously size each other up as the bell rings, neither man willing to throw themselves into the mix quite yet. Stakes are high, indeed, but finally the two men tie up against the ropes, Warrior getting the early shove-off advantage. Savage strikes back with a knee and an eye rake, but a running shoulder tackle yields nothing more than a no-sell from the Warrior, who lifts Savage up into a brief choke, taking a page out of Ricky Steamboat's 'Mania III handbook.

DID YOU KNOW: Ultimate Warrior knows how to do not only an atomic drop, but a reverse atomic drop as well? He does both of them to Savage, and when Sherri runs into the ring to run interference, she gets blocked right onto the floor and knocked for a loop! Warrior stays on offense until Savage connects with a clothesline, but gets caught in midair attempting a double axehandle. But instead of powerslamming him to the mat, Warrior gingerly sets him down and slaps him across the face. Nice. Bent out of shape, Savage bails to ringside, pacing like a caged jungle cat, then grabs a chair and throws it into the ring. As Hebner tosses it back to the floor, Savage catches the Warrior napping with a knee to the back and goes on the offensive. Great, great heel tactic, using the foreign object misdirection to gain the advantage with a legal knee shot. Warrior gets the advantage right back though, forcing Savage into the corner and attacking him with repeated kicks to the gut as Elizabeth looks on with that classic look of concern. Savage eats a few more punches until Warrior goes for a flying splash in the corner, which Randy dodges, sending Warrior flying out of the ring and into some offense from Sherri! When Warrior goes after her, Savage attacks from behind, throwing Warrior into the steel ring post.

A red-hot Gymnasium crowd is chanting "War-ri-or! War-ri-or!" as Savage keeps working him over with kneedrops and more of his signature offense. He scores a two-count, but Warrior stuns Savage with a backslide attempt for a two of his own. In other news, Ultimate Warrior can do a backslide! He's really impressing here! (Actually, in all seriousness, the Warrior was probably never better than when he worked at a WrestleMania. For all his weaknesses in the ring--and they are legion--the dude had some entertaining matches, last year's main event being one of them.)

A double clothesline, and both men hit the mat as Sherri desperately tries to revive her man, and the crowd continues to chant "War-ri-or!" Sherri is so worked up, she tries to climb into the ring, which brings Hebner right over to admonish her for even thinking about it. So of course Warrior rolls up Savage in a small package and pins him for about a 6-count before the ref sees it, which of course means that Savage kicks out at two. Warrior's bent out of shape, and as he argues with Hebner, Savage knees him in the back, sending Warrior crashing into Hebner, who takes an EPIC Hebner ref bump. Dude goes stiff and pratfalls right into the ring ropes, rebounding onto the mat. Amazing. Man, if i were any good at screen grabs and animated gifs, i'd spend the next hour looping the shit out of that. No one takes a ref bump like a Hebner. 

Savage immediately grabs Warrior and holds him for Sherri, who removes a heel and climbs to the top rope, ready to bury that stiletto into the Warrior's forehead. But naturally he dodges at the last second and the crowd explodes as Sherri and Savage collide! Sherri tries to interfere again, and as the Warrior chases her around the ring, she eventually leads him right back to Savage, who rolls him up for a two-count just as Hebner gets his wits back about him. This match has been practically non-stop since the bells rang, with maybe one rest hold i can think of. Credit where it's due; Warrior's holding his own in this match, although he is, of course, in there with a meticulous choreographer and one of the best in the history of the game.

Savage takes control with a pair of guillotine drops, draping Warrior's neck across the top rope twice and clotheslining him in the back of the head, crumpling Warrior to the mat like a sack of rotting groceries. After a body slam and a two-count, Savage says "the hell with this" and climbs to the top rope. It's Motherfucking Elbow Drop time. He dives and connects, and it is brutal.

But Savage isn't satisfied with one elbow. He hits a second...a third...a fourth...Jesus, a fifth elbow drop! Each one is picture perfect, elbow gliding right across the throat of the Ultimate Warrior. After the fifth, Savage mercifully goes for the pin and...the Warrior just barely kicks out. Because of course he does. Savage is wide-eyed in disbelief and is jawing at Dave Hebner, who insists it was two. Normally, i should be indignantly pissed off that the company is booking Warrior to withstand five of Savage's finishing elbows, but, honestly, that was pretty fuckin' awesome. It would have been one thing if Warrior had thrown Savage off his body and started Hulking up or some shit, but he kicked out like it was his last burst of dwindling energy. And Savage is IN SHOCK.

But of course, here Warrior crawls to the ropes and starts shaking them to recharge, and now here comes the rally. Clothesline after clothesline, and Warrior signals the gorilla press, slowly picking Savage up and hoisting him high over his head. He drops Savage to the mat, hits the big splash, and it's a one...two...KICKOUT SAVAGE! Man, it's been a while since i've seen this match, because i did not see that coming. AWESOME. See, when you protect a man's finisher and make sure that normally no one kicks out of it, it's a big fucking deal when it happens, and this right here? Was a big. fucking. deal. NICE.

Oh, but here's where shit gets cornball. Warrior suddenly looks up to the sky, in disbelief that anyone kicked out of his finisher, and Gorilla is filling in the blanks. "He's talking to those gods in the sky! He's asking--is it time for me to step aside? Is this my destiny?" Warrior walks away from Savage, staring at his hands and babbling at the voices in his head, or some damn thing. Warrior climbs out of the ring onto the apron, and Hebner is asking him if he's fucking insane, leaving the match before he's won. Finally, mercifully, Savage gets back up and smashes the Warrior out of the ring. He and Sherri drape Warrior's neck over the ringside railing, and it's a callback to Steamboat's crushed larynx! Sweeeet! Even Heenan's calling the callback! "I've seen him do this before!" Oh, we all have, Brain. Savage climbs to the top turnbuckle, but just as he takes off, Warrior moves and Savage crashes into the railing as the Warrior shakes it off! He throws Savage back into the ring and shakes the ropes, and i think we're about to wrap this up. Savage gets clotheslined out of the ring, and he is OUT. Warrior throws him back in and hits a shoulder tackle that sends Savage out of the ring again. Warrior tosses him back in again, and Warrior hits another tackle. This time, Savage only reaches the apron, and when the Warrior drags him to center ring, he rolls him over, places one foot on Savage's chest, and raises his fists in the air as the ref counts to three. Randy Savage is retired by the Ultimate Warrior as the crowd goes bananas and Heenan protests. "No, no, no!"

Kind of a cornball finish with the whole "talking to the gods" thing, but overall, this was an outstanding match--maybe not technically, but for sheer entertainment and narrative value. The entire sequence starting with the five elbow drops, into Savage kicking out of the Warrior's finisher, into Savage's desperation play with the railing, into Warrior returning the favor with three consecutive clothesline/shoulder tackles, was pretty stellar storytelling. And the tale is not done yet!

Winner: The Ultimate Warrior via pinfall at 20:06 to retire Randy Savage

Meanwhile, Sherri, at ringside, is in shock. After the Ultimate Warrior finishes his victory celebration (while wearing the most hideously airbrushed duster in wrestling history), Sherri enters the ring and begins SCREAMING at Savage, slapping and kicking him while he's down. Cut to Elizabeth, who's watching the whole thing, eventually saying "fuck this shit," leaping over the ring barricade (uh, security?) and running toward the ring, where she grabs Sherri and forcibly ejects her as the crowd goes fully nuclear. Liz tries to check on Savage as he waves her off, thinking that it's still Sherri in the ring. Finally, he springs to his feet and begins to strike back when he realizes who it is and freezes! Monsoon and Heenan are narrating at ringside. "He had no idea she was here!" yells Heenan. Savage is looking around, wondering what the hell is going on, and eventually puts it together that Sherri was teeing off on him and Liz made the save. They stare each other down as tears run down Liz's cheeks. "She loves him!" Heenan screams. "She's loved him from the start!" answers Monsoon. "And i think he loves her too!" Heenan responds. "This is sick!" And finally, Elizabeth and Savage embrace in the ring as Savage's music starts up, the crowd goes supernova, and there's not a dry eye in the first five rows. Awwww. "This is better than a love story...if you like that kinda mush." Don't ever change, Heenan. Meanwhile, loads of shots of ladies in the crowd sobbing. Saps! Buncha saps! See, my eyes are only watering because i've been staring at this monitor for the last few hours. Yeah, that's the ticket.

Of course, The Macho Man and Elizabeth go on to have a storyline wedding at SummerSlam '91, even though they've been married in realsies since 1984. Jake "The Snake" Roberts goes heel and crashes the wedding with The Undertaker, and Savage petitions for reinstatement so he can exact revenge. So that's why you'll be seeing Savage wrestling for the WWF World Title at next year's 'Mania--because Randy Savage's retirement is the "Death of Jean Grey" of pro wrestling retirements.

Apparently it's intermission time at the Los Angeles Memorial Gymnasium, because Monsoon and Heenan are previewing the second half of the show, pointing out that Mr. Perfect's Intercontinental Title defense against the Big Boss Man is still on deck. Heenan reminds me that this is during the period of time where he and his Family were constantly dropping "your mother" jokes on the Boss Man: "I hope his mother's here--maybe she'll cry as much as Elizabeth later." And when Monsoon recaps Warrior/Savage by asking, "what better a way to go out than knowing that you have the woman you love with you?" Heenan responds with "I'd rather have money than a skirt." Bobby Heenan--all class.

Regis Philbin is attempting to interview The Undertaker and Paul Bearer, and it's going about as well as you would expect, as they are more interested in measuring Regis for a coffin than in talking to him:

"C'mon guys, we're dyin' up here." - actual quote

He throws it to Alex Trebek, who is on a locker room set with Demolition, aka Smash and Crush, the man also known as Brian Adams. After Demolition won their third tag titles at WrestleMania VI, Ax was hospitalized for a serious shellfish allergy and Adams was added to the team to keep them in action. That's right--one half of the most dominant tag team in WWF history was knocked out of action by a plate of shrimp. The WWF sold this as a sneaky way for Demolition to exploit the so-called "Freebird" rule which was not called that in the WWF, but was basically a storyline convention that allowed three-person teams to interchange members between title defenses. So while the storyline said that any combination of Ax, Smash & Crush were allowed to defend the titles, it was always Smash & Crush. Every damn time. You'd be watching Wrestling Challenge and they'd bring out the tag champs for a non-title squash against some jobbers, and Gorilla would be all, "huh, looks like it's Smash and....Crush this time out." And as a viewer at home, your response was "Duh! It's ALWAYS Smash & Crush! We haven't seen Ax in the ring since they won the belts! What, is he too old to move? You're not fooling anyone, Monsoon! Gah!"

Anyway, here it's only Smach, Crush, and their re-acquired manager Mr. Fuji, because Ax left the WWF after his contract expired WWF President Jack Tunney decided that their cheating was out of control and there could only be two members of Demolition. I dunno, i guess we were supposed to believe that Ax lost the round of Rock/Paper/Scissors.

We go back to Regis, who is with Demolition's opponents tonight, Genichiru Tenryu and Koji Kitao, who are only referred to by their last names, because the WWF has almost never trusted American audiences to remember both a first name AND a last name for a Japanese wrestler. This is why i'm always talking to Japanese customers at work who insist their names are things like "Roger" and "Fred." They have no faith in us at all. I have absolutely NO recollection as to what these dudes are doing on a WrestleMania card, as i'm pretty sure they weren't exactly working these guys into any high-profile angles. Anyway, Regis asks them questions, and they merely stare at him, because they don't speak English, you see. Eventually Regis says, "Toyota?" and the tag partners light up with recognition. "Isuzu?" More nods and smiles. Hoo boy. "Kathie Lee?" they ask Regis. "No! Kathie Lee not here! Me Regis, you Tenryu, you Kitao." He's pinching their cheeks. Ugh. Back to Alex.

Alex is with Jake the Snake & Damien, and he's so nervous that when Jake suggests that maybe Damien wants to be a contestant on Jeopardy!, he sticks Damien in Alex's face and he bails. "I guess you'll have to settle for the home version, Damien." Hey, can anyone tell me if Alex Trebek hosts a gimmicky game show? I haven't figured out which one from his interviews yet.

Back to ringside finally and Bobby Heenan is laughing his ass off. "The producers asked me, 'line up some guys for the celebrities to interview!' Hahahahaha! Some celebrities! I could have interviewed all those guys! Hahahahaha!" Ok, that's funny.

Match 8: Demolition (Smash & Crush the Silver Mullet w/Mr. Fuji) vs. Genichiru Tenryu & Koji Kitao)

Man, Demolition isn't even using the Rick Derringer music anymore. What a travesty. Monsoon actually calls them "Ax & Smash" and Heenan says they are three-time tag team champs. No they are fucking not. Tenryu & Kitao come to ringside to no reaction whatsoever from the fans, and Heenan pretends to mis-hear Kitao's name. "Hand Towel?" Oh boy, here we go.

Crush starts off with Kitao and right off the bat, the ref is having trouble keeping the other wrestlers out of the ring. Fuji cracks Kitao over the back with his cane and Heenan remarks, "Fuji attacking his own countrymen. I like to see that." Ok. Smash & Crush continue to tag in and out and work Kitao over with their typical power offense until Kitao gets whipped into the corner and immediately crashes into Smash with a clothesline, allowing him to tag in Tenryu, which pops about 100 people in the LA Memorial Gym, tops. Tenryu lights up Smash with chops and a body slam and Monsoon claims he's the most popular wrestler in the Land of the Rising Sun. Is he popular for missing long-range back elbow drops from the top rope? Because he just whiffed on that and let Smash tag out to Crush, who hits a backbreaker and puts his team back in control. Smash puts Tenryu in position for the Demolition Decapitation, but as Crush prepared to drop the elbow, Kitao moseys his way into the ring (seriously, he doesn't run--he moseys) and runs interference. Kitao and Crush trade punches for a bit while Smash just awkwardly holds Tenryu over his knee and watches while Crush throws Kitao out of the ring. It looks very stupid indeed. Crush tries again and this time Kitao pushes him off the turnbuckle and onto the apron, so Crush finally drops Tenryu and starts to beat on Kitao, who is not legal. Tenryu hits a Bad News Brown/Fighter Hayabusa-style back brain kick and follows it up with a powerbomb to stun and pin Smash for the win, and it's all very boring. I really am not sure if the fans are quiet because they don't know the Japanese team, or because this was a snooze and a half.

Winners: Tenryu & Kitao via pinfall in 4:44

Mean Gene is with the Big Boss Man, who is sick of the months and months of insults directed toward his mama. "You hurt my mama's feelings! And when you hurt her feelings, you hurt mine!" Mr. Perfect will now show that crime does not pay, all stays of executions are canceled, and other correctional metaphors delivered "with conviction" says Mean Gene (get it? Conviction? Ah, forget it). This feud really was based around mama jokes, wasn't it? Nice job, writing staff!

Sean Mooney is with Heenan (who has left the broadcast table to be with his charge) and Intercontinental Champion Mr. Perfect, who is not ever referred to as "Curt Hennig" anymore. Heenan references the Watts riots (ED NOTE: Thanks for the correction, Vince Hannity!) and the LAPD while cutting down the Boss Man, and Hennig basically talks about how awesome he is. I'm not one to argue with the second part. Let's go to the ring and see how well Perfect carries Boss Man here.

Match 9: "Mr. Perfect" Curt Hennig (w/Bobby Heenan) vs. The Big Boss Man for the WWF Intercontinental Championship

There was a time when the Intercontinental Title was considered the WWF's "workrate" belt. In other words, while Hogan and Ultimate Warrior were busy busting out their three moves of doom on huge, monster heels, fans could trust the Intercontinental Title matches to be by and large quality matches full of technical skill and arial hijinks, especially when Savage, Steamboat, or Mr. Perfect held the strap. So it was always weird (and still is for me) to see a superheavyweight like Boss Man (or Kane, or Rikishi, or Prince Albert) contend for the secondary belt when the Big Dudes are usually thrown right into the World Title mix. Still, Boss Man was never a completely worthless in-ring worker (just mostly worthless), so it's entirely possible that Perfect could carry him to a worthy IC title match here. We'll see.

Lord Alfred Hayes is sitting in for commentary in Heenan's stead, and i'm really wishing they would have worked some angle where Bobby tried to multitask because that would have been about 1000x as awesome has having Lord Alfred Hayes on commentary. What's he lord of, anyway? Snoresylvania?

Boss Man grabs Perfect's towel and slaps him in the face with it, and Perfect slaps Boss Man's face right back, and this is going to be quite the mean-spirited sissy slap-fight, complete with Boss Man throwing Perfect into a helicopter spin by his hair. Yowtch. Is this the Divas match? Boss Man starts off hot and Perfect bails to the outside to consult with the Brain (or the "Weasel," as the 16,000 strong let him hear it). Back in the ring, Perfect pops the crowd with a viciously loud chop to the Boss Man's chest, but the corrections officer fights back with a nasty kick to Perfect's melon and then takes his belt off and starts whipping Perfect with it. Does this earn him a DQ? No, because apparently babyfaces only get a stern warning this early in the match (although to Al Hayes' credit, he's calling for the ref to do something about this). Perfect grabs the belt, wraps it around his fist, and gets the upper hand with some punches, and turnabout is fair play, i suppose. As both men trade punches back and forth, i am sure i just heard Hayes say that both men are demonstrating "tremendous hemorrhaging," but i think he probably actually said "tremendous energy."

Perfect slows things down with a chinlock over his knee, then alters it into the fearsome abdominal stretch. Heenan is yelling at the timekeeper to ring the bell, which is a great heel move, but Boss Man doesn't submit, so Perfect releases the stretch into a nice dropkick and another sick chop. The trademark Mr. Perfect snapmare into flipping neck-snap over Boss Man's head, and it's good for a two-count. Perfect goes for the Perfectplex (a standard cradle suplex executed to, well, perfection), but Boss Man counters into a small package for a two-count of his own. Perfect comes back with a neck-snap from the opposite direction and climbs the ropes, but dives right into a Boss Man boot as the camera pans to a SHOCKED looking Bobby Heenan, jaw hilariously agape. Boss Man conks Perfect's head into the turnbuckle and Perfect sells it with a ricochet like he's wrestling Brutus Beefcake again. But when Boss Man goes after Heenan, he gets rammed into the ring steps in brutal fashion, lying prone while Heenan kicks the Boss Man when he's down.

But as Heenan's dishing out the boots, the crowd absolutely pops as Andre the Giant makes a surprise appearance, walking down to ringside to run interference on the Brain! Heenan stops absolutely dead in his tracks until he remembers to run for cover on the other side of the ring. Perfect, meanwhile, strips the turnbuckle pad off one corner, then wanders over to yell at Andre for grabbing his title belt. Huh, i don't remember Andre ever having any interest in the IC title, other than as a vehicle for getting squashed in 30 seconds by the Warrior at house shows. Perfect bashes Boss Man into the exposed turnbuckle, which gives Hennig time to yell at the ref about Andre grabbing his belt. Dude, shouldn't you be covering your totally unconscious opponent right now? No, go yell at the huge giant walking around with your belt and then get laid out when he bashes you over the head with it. Smart move, "Perfect!"

So now both wrestlers are lying unconscious in the ring as Andre continues to pace at ringside. Boss Man eventually gets up during the ten count and tries to pin Perfect, but he only gets a two. Suddenly, Haku and the Barbarian are in the ring beating the shit out of Boss Man, and the ref has to ring the bell. Eh, no big loss--this match was average at best. What is not average is how Perfect sells the punch Andre lays on his outside the ring. He goes spinning in the air and makes it look like the nearly-infirm and dangerously unhealthy Andre just knocked him out of his trunks. Boss Man fights back against Heenan's tag team and Andre helps him clean house. Perfect is disqualified, naturally, so the crowd cheers when Boss Man's name is announced as the winner. No title change, though, of course, but Boss Man gets a handshake from the Eighth Wonder of the World, which is not a bad consolation prize.

Winner: The Big Boss Man by DQ in 10:47

Oh, good, it's Earthquake time. He's being lead down to ringside by Jimmy Hart to take out The Mouth's former charge, Greg "The Hammer" Valentine. I do not recall why the Hammer got a face turn near the end of his WWF career, but hey, we'll roll with it. Besides, he's got music now? So that's a thing? At least he has his blonde hair back, thank god. Earthquake looks like a giant Russian nesting doll made out of ham.

During the ring introductions, Mean Gene takes some time to say hi to some of the celebrities in the audience, including Donald Trump (Gene asks him nothing about his ex-wife), Chuck Norris (who's been watching wrestling since the Gorgeous George days, he says), Henry Winkler, and Lou Ferrigno, the original Hulk, who talks about how much his kids love wrestling. When they get back to Gorilla and the Brain, Heenan heels that he's amazed that Ferrigno can talk with 15 pounds of crackers in his mouth. Wow.

Match 10: Earthquake (w/Jimmy Hart) vs. Greg "The Hammer" Valentine

This is pretty easy going for Earthquake, who hits a nasty looking powerslam for a two-count in the early goings, then has to withstand a flurry of Valentine offense before Jimmy hops onto the apron during a Valentine figure-four attempt. Earthquake grabs The Hammer from behind, hits a big eblow drop, then hits his running ass-drop for the pin. Not much more to report here, chief! Way to go, Valentine--you got a PPV bonus check! Good job, sport!

Winner: Earthquake via pinfall in 3:14

Sean Mooney is backstage with one of the greatest tag teams in the history of tag team wrestling, THE LEGION OF MUHFUCKIN' DOOM. Animal and Hawk are mad pissed at Power & Glory (the fearsome duo of Hercules and Paul "Jobber When He Doesn't Have a Tag Partner, But Somehow He Got to Be a Member of the Four Horsemen for a Hot Minute" Roma) because they apparently interfered in an elimination match that the Nasty Boys won to become #1 contenders for the Hart's belts. So Animal is swearing that when they are finished with Herc & Roma, they're going straight after the Nasty Boys. "Tell 'em, Hawk!"

"Power & Glory, huh? Power & Glory. When we're done with you, you'll be more like Sour & Gory. Ooooooooh WHAT A RUSH." Gold star, Hawk. You best work by far. Ummmm, i SWEAR this is one of the best tag teams of all time, guys!

Match 11: The Legion of Doom (Hawk & Animal) vs. Power & Glory (Hercules & Paul Roma w/Slick)

Power & Glory jump the LOD before the bell (but just after they get their huge-ass shoulder spikes off), but it doesn't really help them much. Hawk double-clotheslines the jobbers and spills out of the ring with Herc, while Animal catches Roma off an ill-advised top rope jump and powerslams his dumb ass. He hoists him on his shoulders and Hawk takes his head off with the Doomsday Device, his top-rope clothesline that knocks the dude off Animal's shoulders and right into the pin. 1, 2, 3. Hey, Hercules! Remember when you had a last name and were a feared heel? Thanks for coming to WrestleMania VII and filling in the role of Conquistador Numero Dos! No, we don't validate parking for jobbers.

Winners: The LOD via pinfall in :59

OK, so here's the video recap that shows how Virgil eventually got sick of Ted DiBiase's shit and turned on him, leading to this sure-to-be-classic match here at WrestleMania. To be fair, they do show a pretty great sequence where DiBiase is on Superstars wrestling a jobber, but ends up on the ring floor arguing with Virgil and getting counted out, giving the nameless jobber the victory. I'll bet that dude had that win on his resume for years after when shopping for indy gigs. "Bruce Green--that guy that beat Ted DiBiase by countout that one time. Autographs $5."

Roddy Piper is at ringside for Virgil, so maybe that will make this somewhat entertaining. I don't know.

Match 12: "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase vs. Virgil (w/"Rowdy" Roddy Piper)

DiBiase is still the "Million-Dollar Champion." Man, how long did that gimmick last, anyway? Jeez. Now, this is weird and sort of demeaning--After DiBiase's introduction, Piper's music gets played and down he comes to ringside--on a crutch because he apparently was in a motorcycle accident (which Heenan nicely dismisses as "he fell off his tricycle when his skirt got caught in the chain" or something). While Piper's music plays, he looks back down the aisle and yells, "Oh, VIR-GIL," which makes this look like Piper's pulling Virgil's strings now instead of DiBiase. So, let me get this straight--here we have a storyline where the demeaned African-American pseudo-slave of the WWF's 1% rises up and bashes the Million-Dollar Belt over his Mission-Dollar head, but because he's not a great talker, they end up sticking Piper with him to do a lot of his interviews for him, which just makes it end up looking like the poor downtrodden black dude needs a more popular white guy to tell him what to do. Well, that's unfortunate, is all i can say. And what the hell is the deal with Piper unwittingly throwing himself in racially-troubling storylines, anyway? "Hey, Virgil! Come on down! It's time to fight!" The crowd goes nuts for Virgil, and the bell rings while LOUD Virgil chants rock the Gym.

Oh, Christ, Virgil's wrestling style is that of a boxer. Great. Because that's not stereotypical at all. He knocks DiBiase out of the ring after a few jabs to the face, and he knocks my faith in the WWF's ability to Be A Star down about five pegs. DiBiase paces the ring but eventually is forced back in over the ropes by Virgil, who hits a clothesline and drops DiBiase back out again. Ted's doing some great time-killing here, constantly slapping the apron in frustration like he took private lessons in stalling from Larry Zbyszko.

Eventually DiBiase hits a drop toehold and takes control by slamming Virgil's head repeatedly into the mat and turnbuckle, following it up with an Irish whip into an elbow. Another Irish whip into a sweet clothesline, and the crowd is chanting Virgil's name again while Heenan heels on Piper's injury. "Sit down, gimpy! Ya know, i saw a woman in the entryway earlier tonight with a crutch...i guess she hurt her foot or something, but i thought it was Piper from the back!" "Will you stop?" Woah, DiBiase with a nice sit-down piledriver for a two-count. With that move banned these days, it always looks scary even when seeing one in 1991.

DiBiase's using his full arsenal right now--vertical suplex, gutwrench suplex, and some solid chops to Virgil's chest on the ring floor. And after he throws Virgil back into the ring, he takes a cheap shot on Piper, sending him crashing out of his chair to a chorus of boos. "I've fallen, and i CAN'T GET UP!" cackles Heenan. Timely!

Piper eventually fights back to his feet and uses his crutch to pull down the top rope and spill DiBiase out of the ring! OR, DiBiase throws himself out of the ring and Piper gets just enough of his crutch up near the top rope to make it look like he had something to do with it. Guess which one is true? Regardless, the ref's counting to 10, and DiBiase is spending too much time going after Piper to notice that Virgil's about to win via countout! Enraged, DiBiase heads back into the ring and slaps the Million-Dollar Dream on Virgil, fading him to the mat until Piper limps into the ring and cracks Ted over the back with his crutch. Oh, good, Virgil can't even win the match or fight off a post-match attack on his own. God forbid we have the ex-slave pull this off by himself.

Winner: Virgil via countout in 7:41

But what's this? Sensational Sherri storms the ring to help out DiBiase, who is now using Piper's crutch on his injured knee, and Piper is screaming like it's been shattered. Sherru and DiBiase work it over until Virgil comes to, grabs the crutch and clears the ring with a wild swing. The refs try to help Piper up, and one of them gets a wild crutch in the junk for good measure, which is kinda funny, actually. Piper's resisting all attempts to help him until Virgil grabs the mic and says, "Hot Rod! Do what you told me to do! STAND UP!" Easy to say when you're not the one with a potentially shattered knee, Virg'. Still, Piper gets his game face on and barely fights to his feet, and his music starts up as Virgil returns all the favors Piper's done him the last few months and helps walk him to the back. Well, i guess that's all very sweet, but it's still a pretty weak reparation for the troubling subtext in this whole idiotic storyline.

Would it shock you to know that after his feud with DiBiase petered out, the WWF had absolutely nothing else for Virgil to do? Yeah, me neither. What's worse, being DiBiase's slave, or being a jobber to the stars? I'm not sure.

Well, we're getting close to the main event, so it's time for Sean Mooney to give us the clip of Sgt. (S)laughter setting the "Hulk Rules" t-shirt on fire before bringing in the champ and his manager, Gen. Adnan (formerly AWA manager Sheik Adnan Al-Kaissie), who yells a bunch ostensibly in Iraqi at Hulk Hogan as the Sarge laughs in his Iraqi military fatigues. It's all very gross.

l-r. Carnies. Fucking carnies.

Once (S)laughter gets on the mike, it's all "Pukeamaniacs" this and "The Immortal Slime, Hulk Hogan" that, and is that really the best you can do, dude? He goes on to say that there's no telling what may happen during the match, and straight up cops to planning on getting himself intentionally disqualified or counted out to keep his title. Well, you have to give him this--it's not often that a chickenshit heel actually fesses up to being a chickenshit. USA, USA, USA?

Speaking of the USA, it's now time for the battle of our two nearest neighbors, as Canada's The Mountie, aka Jacques Rougeau, takes on Mexico's Tito Santana. How racist can Bobby Heenan get in this match? Lets find out!

Match 13: The Mountie (w/Jimmy Hart) vs. Tito Santana

The Mountie does not yet have his grating "I'm the Mountie" theme music, but Tito now has some weird-ass stock Mexican salsa music or some shit, and Heenan gets right into it. "I'm surprised Tito's even here--we're only 150 miles from the border." What does that even mean

As Gorilla points out that Los Angeles has always been a lucky spot for Tito, he connects with his flying forearm, sending the Mountie rolling out of the ring to cower with Jimmy Hart. Welp, he's already hit his finisher, so what do we have left? Ah, we have a double noggin-knocker at ringside and an atomic drop in the ring, which Jacques amusingly sells with a high-pitched "OW!" The Mountie grabs the ring apron in desperation as Tito tries to pull him to center ring, but the ref ends up forcing Tito to back off, which is the perfect time for Jimmy to slip the Mountie his electric cattle prod (aka a red stick), which he jabs in Tito's stomach. Tito pretends he's been shocked, and Jacques covers him for the pin. And they didn't even bother to dub in electric shock sound effects for the foreign object, either. Maybe that's why Heenan thinks it's actually something Tito ate. 

Winner: The Mountie in 1:21

Mean Gene is with Hulk Hogan, who is wearing a stars & stripes bandana and telling Sgt. (S)laughter that when he set fire to Hogan's t-shirt, he was trying to scorch the hopes & dreams of all the little Hulkamaniacs. Do you think Hulk Hogan honestly, genuinely felt that this shithole storyline was a genuine tribute to the troops in the Gulf, or do you think his attitude was more "meh, whatever gets the strap back around my waist, i don't care?" Meh, whatever. Let's get this garbage over with.

Match 14: Sgt. (S)laughter (w/Gen. Adnan) vs. Hulk Hogan for the WWF World Heavyweight Championship

Regis Philbin is at the broadcast table at ringside for this one, so that will add something to this nonsense, i suppose. Marla Maples rings the bell and looks at the camera like, "look what i did!" The next three minutes or so involve Hogan and (S)laughter jawing at each other, (S)laughter slowly removing his Iraqi fatigues, Hogan having a ham sandwich before the match, Sarge doing some warm-up calisthenics OH MY GOD START THIS ABORTION OF A MATCH ALREADY. Both men circle the ring and we finally get a tie-up, both men in the corner refusing to let go of each other as the crowd gets their "U-S-A! U-S-A!" on. Hogan gets a headlock and (S)laughter eventually pushes Hogan out of it to the ropes and gets floored out of the ring with a shoulderblock. Hogan starts chasing Gen. Adnan around the ring, which is always a good move, and when Sarge comes at him with a steel chair, Hogan totally no-sells it, chasing (S)laughter into the ring, where Sarge gets on his knees and does the Honky Tonk Man chickenshit heel beg-off move. Gorilla says Hogan's "a patriot missile ready to explode." I want my tax money back if we're spending a billion dollars on balding musclebound beach bums. Hogan moves in to attack and gets a thumb in his eye for his trouble.

Sarge now in control. Turnbuckle shot! Punch! Irish whip into an elbow! Stomp on the fingers! Punch again! He misses an elbow drop and Hogan delivers a few punches and a clothesline, following up with a classic Hogan eye rake for good measure. I guess this time it's ok because Sarge did it first? I really miss Jesse Ventura here--Heenan's busy inviting Regis to the victory party he's throwing Sarge on Tuesday. Jesse would be pointing out Hogan's cheating, although i don't think you could get a former Navy SEAL to lean his bias toward the Iraqi turncoat.

Hogan's on the offensive now, slamming Sarge's head into the turnbuckles (and one shot into the ringpost, although the announcers are too busy bickering to catch it) and following up with a backdrop. After a couple more whips into the turnbuckle, Hogan hits The Fakest Move of All Time, the slingshot into the turnbuckle, which Sarge uses as an excuse to hit his head into the ringpost again. The Vince tell the ref to tell Sarge that the announcers missed the last one? Gorilla hilariously says "we're seeing the Hogan on the 90s right here at WrestleMania." Ha! The nWo would like to have words with you, Monsoon.

Hogan continues to dominate, although (S)laughter is really dishing out some punishment on the turnbuckles with his face, so he's got that going for him. Heenan is agog at Hogan's dominance so far--"i have never seen Hogan take it to anyone like this, whether he was the champ or not." Indeed, they've booked (S)laughter precious little offense so far, making this entire matchup a metaphor for the one-sided affair that was the first Gulf War, i suppose. Finally, Hogan climbs to the top rope--"He never does that!" yells Heenan--and as Adnan grabs his leg, Sarge recovers enough to throw him off the top rope and clothesline Hogan out to the floor. Sarge grabs a chair and turns this into a garbage match, cracking it over Hulk's back twice before trying to choke Hogan out with some TV cables. Heenan is great here. "It almost looks like he's trying to get himself disqualified! We both know he's better than that though." If he is trying to get himself DQ'd, referee Dave Hebner is refusing to pull the trigger, ostensibly using his prowess as an incompetent ref to bring the title home for the boys abroad. Good on you, i guess, Dave. 

They get back into the ring and it's back to punch, punch, axehandle, punch, backbreaker into a two-count for (S)laughter. Man, Sarge's first two-count of the match and he's already getting in the ref's face about the count. A couple stomps and Sarge tries to turn Hogan over for a Boston Crab, but he's right next to the ropes, which allows Adnan to...grab Sarge's head and pull down on it? Does that add pressure to a Boston Crab? That doesn't make medical sense, i don't think. Also, can someone tell Hogan that all he has to do is reach out and grab the goddamn rope? It's right there! Ah, finally he grabs it after he realizes he can't power out of it. Well, that was stupid. Sarge drags Hogan to center ring and buries some knees in his back, then climbs the ropes and drops a flying stomp into Hogan's kidney. He covers Hogan for the pin and...Adnan is distracting the referee? What? This is some Keystone Cops nonsense. What the fuck? Hebner finally sees the cover and counts two before Hogan kicks out, so Sarge, flustered, grabs a chair and cracks Hogan over the head with it. Does the ref see it? Who fucking cares? One, it's Hebner so he probably opted to admire the LA Memorial Gym's shiny new rafterwork instead of watching a heel chair shot, and Two, fuck this match in the face because it's garbage. 

Anyway, Hogan's bleeding now and i missed where he actually bladed, so good on him for being subtle. Sarge is punching him in the face and eventually slaps on the Camel Clutch, but since Hogan doesn't submit, Sarge breaks it, stomps Hogan's back, and slaps it on again. Man, Hogan's juicing pretty hard. Good on him. 

Finally, Hogan powers out and stands upright, but Sarge drops off Hogan's back and rams him into the corner. Hogan's on the ground, and Sarge decides to drape him in the Iraqi flag before going for the cover. Well, nice job, dumbass--you just triggered the patented Hulk Up. Hogan tears up the goddamn Iraqi flag, points his finger in Sarge's face, and it's punch, punch, punch, big boot, leg drop, Hogan wins, U-S-A, U-S-A, U-S-A, whatthefuckever. Hogan becomes the first man to win the WWF World Title three times with the blood of the infidels coursing down his face. Oh, and then he grabs an American flag as Monsoon says "The war is now officially over." Captain America has punched Hitler in the jaw, everyone. We can all go home happy, sleeping secure in our knowledge that exploitive carnival propaganda like this is why the United States of America is the greatest country in the world. I hate all of you and suck my dick.


NEXT TIME: Hulk Hogan beats up on another slow punching dude, but we at least get Savage/Flair for the title, so that'll be nice. Now i'm going to go open up some veins. Remember kids--when getting juice for the match, slicing across the wrist is just a cry for help.

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