WRESTLEMANIA REVIEW: WMIV PART ONE

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Things kick off with Gladys Knight singing about America. It gives Gorilla Monsoon goosebumps and then they bring a big trophy out.

20-Man Battle Royal for a Big Trophy

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The first match is a battle royale, and the gif above sums it up for the most part. It's all pretty standard fare until it boils down to the final three of Bret Hart, Bad News Brown and the Junkyard Dog. JYD builds up some momentum and looks set to take both Brown and Hart on, so the pair team up to take him out. Jesse Ventura notes on commentary that in the closing stages of a match such as this, "friendships develop and enemies begin."

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Once JYD has been taken care of, Hart and Brown take a moment to celebrate, which is really quite foolhardy given that this is a battle royale. Bad News Brown takes the initiative and kicks Hart in the head, throws him into the ringpost and puts him over the top rope to win the match. He is then presented with the aforementioned big trophy, which is in fact bigger than him. He takes some time to celebrate facing the camera, incidentally looking in the complete opposite direction to Bret Hart, the man he just double-crossed.

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Of course, Hart enters the ring, dropkicks Brown out of it and proceeds to wreck his trophy. What a bad loser. The following is a particularly engrossing passage of Hart's book 'My Real Life in the Cartoon World of Wrestling' detailing how he heard about the match from Vince.

At WrestleMania IV, he explained, Bad News and I would team up at the end of the battle royal to eliminate Junkyard Dog, but News would double-cross me and throw me out. When he was presented with a giant trophy, I’d attack him and smash the trophy to pieces.
— Bret Hart

People like to talk about Sheamus being a heel when he's a face, but this is what Vince was cooking up more than a quarter-century ago as a face turn for Hart: teaming up for a numbers advantage in a multi-man match, then getting pissy when it didn't work out and smashing the big trophy that belonged to the guy who won. Classy guy.

Some guy comes out and makes a declaration that the world title tournament is about to begin.

'Hacksaw' Jim Duggan vs. The Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase

Andre the Giant comes out with Ted wearing a suit that looks to have the same measurements as one of Cena's hall of fame night ensembles. The match is pitched as being brawler vs. technician, and both Duggan and DiBiase do well to play up that narrative in a short match. Duggan pulls off a sunset flip to the surprise of just about everyone, but in the end Andre gets involved and bags the win for Ted. Duggan whips out his 2x4 and they baddies scarper.

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There's a bit of chat from Brutus 'the Barber' Beefcake back stage but it's not a great promo. I don't really get Brutus at all, it's a dumb gimmick that really doesn't give him a whole lot of options, and everything about his delivery of it suggests that he might be a bit slow.

Dino Bravo vs. Don Muraco

Fairly boring match, this one. Muraco does a good job of continuously working Bravo's leg, to what end he's doing so I don't really know. What I do know is that Muraco is an incredibly sweaty human being, look at it pouring off him. This is about three minutes into the match.

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Check out that botch on the left too. You can pinpoint the moment in mid-air when he realises just how out of position Bravo is to take that move. There's a ref-bump to cause the DQ finish and it sort of makes up for how dull the match is just by the nature of being something vaguely out of the ordinary. Not a great showing though.

Ricky 'the Dragon' Steamboat vs. Greg 'the Hammer

There's something about Greg Valentine that really repulses me but I can't put my finger on what it is. Maybe the hair? It's probably the hair. This match is definitely a cut above the last one, as you can tell Steamboat really wants to do something with his time and Valentine quite capably plays his part too.

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That expression on Valentine's face when he takes the chop is priceless. The finish has been seen a thousand times now, but it's executed well here—clean, but not too clean.

There's an interesting bit of back and forth on commentary during this match about the 'external occipital protuberance' and it made me think about today's commentary. Gorilla Monsoon makes reference to it, and Jesse Ventura rides him about it but Monsoon stands his ground on being educated and doing his job. It makes sense for Ventura to react like he does because he's that way inclined, but today you'd have everyone on commentary competing to act like they knew the least about what they were talking about.

We go backstage to talk to the British Bulldogs and their British bulldog, Matilda. She's a gif-worthy animal if there ever was one.

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'The Natural' Butch Reed vs. Macho Man Randy Savage

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Reed gets a jobber entrance, then Macho makes his way to the ring and everyone goes nuts. At least Reed had Slick dancing around him, I guess? This isn't much more than a squash to be honest, and that's part of the problem with having a tournament at Mania—you're going to get some of these completely insignificant matches if you want a decent sized bracket.

Elizabeth has a bit of a hand in the finish, which was sort of alluded to by a lot of chat on commentary about whether Slick or Elizabeth would be better to have in your corner. I don't know whether this was done on purpose to tie in to the finish, but it did help build a bit of story to what would otherwise be a rather forgettable match.

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I should probably have mentioned by now that throughout the evening Bob Uecker and Jesse Ventura have been in a WAR OF WORDS regarding which of the two will get to sleep with professional wheel-spinner Vanna White. WrestleMania IV is a show remembered for its two strong narratives; the tournament for the gold and that classic Uecker-Ventura feud over who gets to give her a 'D'.

Bam Bam Bigelow vs. One Man Gang

The sax music that Bigelow comes out to is absolutely puzzling to me. I can scarcely think of anything less appropriate. Ventura makes some reference to 'the ugly twins' and I can only presume he's referring to Bigelow and the Gang because they're both certainly of the same brand of ugly.

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Bigelow loses by countout after Slick helps him tumble over the top rope. It's really amazing how much manager interference there is on this show, nearly every match has some non-wrestler involved in the finish. Nearly all the managers are pulling double duty, too. People crave managers these days but let's not get back to this level of saturation, eh?

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Brad JonesComment