WWF Wrestlemania 3
That sax opening. The Silverdome is ridiculous. God damn there are so many people there. There were MORE at WM32, but due to the lack of stage and lighting grids, it looks like there were more for this show. Vince's intro of Aretha Franklin is also wonderful.
Can-Am Connection vs Don Muraco/Bob Orton Jr.
Zero build up to this. In fact, having watched the actual build up to this show, it's amazing how little WWE did for the whole event, but were so hot that they could still pack in 80K. Nothing really started until towards the end of January, and about half of the matches have no real storyline reason to be happening at all. This is one of them. Martel and Muraco begin. I can't believe there was a time in my life that I didn't think much of Rick Martel. He was great. The more I see of his pre-model days, the better I think he was. Orton is another dude who is always fascinating to watch for all of his small touches. Zenk was...okay, I guess. Interesting seeing WWE's version of heartthrob pretty boy team actually being dudes with lots of muscles and tans instead of kind of weird looking, small Southern guys like most versions. Can-Ams initially control the match with their speed. It's a strange match from a structure standpoint, as there aren't heat or FIP sections, but it still has a hot tag and fire up segment. Can-Ams got the win with a cross body/trip combo. Shout out Muraco's GOAT-tier Irish whip technique.
TO THE MEAN GENE. Brain and Hercules do their thing. Wait a second...was Herc's gimmick that he actually was the mythological Heracles? Because the way he's speaking about the feats of Hercules from a first person point of view seems to be pointing that he's literally Hercules. Presumably, thousands of years old, and now testing his mettle as a pro wrestler.
Billy Jack Haynes vs Hercules
This match, much like all the other Heenan managed matches on the show, was built around Brain being a dick and getting his men into a fight. In this case, Brain called for BJH to try to break out of Herc's full nelson after a match, and a feud was born. So much muscularity. So much vascularity. So much POWER. Billy Jerk's look is a bit less impressive in WWE as it was a few years prior in various territories when there just weren't dudes in that kind of shape outside of the Road Warriors. It's still a great look, though, and the ease with which he press slams Herc is crazy. As you'd imagine, lots of power spots in this. Herc lays Billy Jerk out with a lariato, something not very common in this era of WWE. Always happy to see big muscle dudes throwing bombs. This was the impetus for Herc to control the match, and he does so with the most basic of moves like Irish whips and backbreakers. He's very slow and deliberate, something Monsoon calls something just short of outright boring. I'm not sure that's the best way to sell the action, but Gorilla often said strange things. I don't think it is boring. This is like a clash of the titans type match, and dudes so big shouldn't be flying around the ring at a fast clip. Billy Jerk is able to muscle out of the full nelson, and both fall to the floor when Billy has the hold applied. They're counted out. Post-match, Herc busted Billy open with the chain and left him for dead.
TO THE MEAN GENE. Gene is with King Kong Bundy and THE MIDGETS! He gets some words with Hillbilly Jim and THE OTHER MIDGETS soon after.
King Kong Bundy/Little Tokyo/Lord Littlebrook vs Hillbilly Jim/Haiti Kid/Little Beaver
Zero reason for this match. It was just one day announced on TV and that was that. No story reason that I was able to see on the lead up shows. Bob Uecker has joined the commentary booth for this match. What a difference a year makes. Bundy headlined WM2 with Hogan. A year later, he's in a comedy mixed tag three matches in. This is a complete waste of time, but it does deliver on its promise of Bundy splattering a midget. He was disqualified for it, and even his own midget partners turned on him as a result.
TO THE MARY HART. Mary speaks with Miss Elizabeth. Well, she tries. Macho takes over the interview. "Fascinating is the world of the day, and enthusiasm is where I go." Lol. The fuck does that mean? "No problem. My phone number's on the back of my license plate."
TO THE MEAN GENE. Gene was joined not only by the King Harley Race and Bobby Heenan, but also the queen of wrestling, the Fabulous Moolah. Moolah just stares dead ahead into the camera like she's never done an interview in her life. Bizarre. Mr. Baseball leaves the booth because he really wants to fuck her. Gene also got to speak to JYD, who was "As sure as I am black and the day is shinning" that he would win the crown tonight.
Junkyard Dog vs Harley Race
I'm shocked that an angle with JYD has racial undertones to it. This is based on Harley and Brain wanting JYD to bow down to him. Now, you can do the whole "He's the king, and you bow to the king" rationalization, but the optics of it are two blonde headed white men (both known to have said very off color things on screen) trying to force a black man to kneel in submission to them. The roar for JYD is something. It's interesting that these guys, two of the biggest draws of the territory era, are in the middle of the show fighting over a crown. Both are on the down-slide of their careers, and neither have their long histories (including with each other) mentioned. This would have drawn 30K in Louisiana 3-5 years prior. I did always enjoy that Harley's king gimmick was a nice work around of referencing his NWA legacy without actually mentioning the competition. But why the fuck is he doing giving headbutts from the apron to the floor? That'd be reckless and dumb if an indie dude did it today. The diving headbutt was such a bad idea, Harley. When you see the shape he's been in for the past 20+ years, the shape Dynamite Kid has been in since the late 80s, Benoit, Daniel Bryan...you have to know he regrets ever inventing it. And here, it doesn't even work because, as you may know, black and Samoan wrestlers have extra thick craniums. JYD dominates the match, with Harley only getting offense when Heenan ran interference. Harley then gets the win with a belly to belly, even though it sure looked like JYD kicked out before or at 3. JYD does fulfill the stipulations and bows to Harley, but then attacks him with a chair and leaves with the robe.
TO THE McBROTHERJACKDUDE. Vince personally interviews Hogan. Hulk's promo is centered on how many people have told him that he can't beat Andre, and how it has been eating him up. Andre has to face the truth that he's not just facing Hogan, but all of his Hulkamanics as well.
TO THE MEAN GENE. Gene spoke with the Dream Team, who now have Dino Bravo on their side. Dino and Johnny V spoke some French.
Rougeau Brothers vs Dream Team
No idea why this is a match. In fact, it sure seemed like Beefcake was turning face and heading for an angle with Adrian Adonis after Adonis "accidentally" cut Beefcake's hair during a six man tag. But here he is, still teaming with the Hammer and in a random match against the Fabulous Rougeaus. Wrestling, I suppose. Brain shows up to the booth to brag about being 2-0 tonight. He's actually 1-3. This is a short, nothing match that ends with Dino Bravo getting a cheap shot in after the Rougeaus had it won with the flying tea bag. Beefcake is upset about, so Dino/Johnny/Greg leave without him. Of all the cheating the Dream Team had done, this is what was the last straw for Brutus? Brutus cheated IN THIS MATCH.
TO THE MEAN GENE. Gene spoke with Adrian Adonis and Jimmy Hart
Roddy Piper vs Adrian Adonis Hair vs Hair
Not only is this a hair vs hair match, but it is also Piper's retirement match. Of course, because he has to be special, Piper is the only person to not come out on a cart so far. This had a questionable build, essentially with the two initially disliking each other for both having talk show segments. It escalated from there, but that's how it started. Piper keeps the belt from his kilt, and the match turns into something of a strap match. Fucking lol at Gorilla getting mad about Adonis using it, after Piper sneaked it into the ring and used it first. It's a brawl with heavy Jimmy Hart interference. The ending is...weird. Adonis locks on the sleeper. Piper is out, but Adonis let go before Piper's arm fell for the third time, and since Piper was now on the mat, his hand didn't hit the mat, so the match continued. However, as Adonis celebrated, Beefcake ran out and woke Piper up by hitting him in the neck a few times. Adonis then tries to hit Piper with the hedge clippers as if it was a chair instead of something to stab him with. Piper wins with the sleeper. Beefcake helps Piper cut Adrian's hair. Post match, a fan hit the ring and celebrated with Piper. Lol, he bails and lets security swarm the kid after he just hugged him. Obviously, Piper's retirement didn't last long. The real story of this match is the birth of Brutus The Barber Beefcake. He even got his hedge clippers in this match. What a weird way to turn face, too.
Gorilla, Bob, and Mary Hart talk about where Jesse is. The Body wanted to be introduced in the ring.
TO THE MEAN GENE. Gene got to speak with the Hart Foundation before the match. Danny Davis makes his debut as a wrestler after his time as a crooked referee.
Hart Foundation/Danny Davis vs British Bulldogs/Tito Santana
Here's the thing about this match: Dynamite had barely worked in 2 months. After dropping the titles to the Harts in January, he missed all of February and had 6 matches before WM, all of which were either under 5 minutes or were 6 man tags. His body is a wreck, and Bulldog has spent the build for this match tagging with random guys like JYD and Tito. Still, he plays the FIP for most of the match. However, everyone is very delicate with him, and he only takes one slow, training school bump the entire match. If he was in that bad of shape, you have to wonder why he was in the match at all, or at least why he was in the ring for the bulk of the match. Danny Davis got REKT by Tito and Bulldog, but he actually pins Davey Boy after a shot with the megaphone.
TO THE MEAN GENE. Andre and Brain are the guests. Bobby has changed into a snazzy as fuck white and gold tux.
Butch Reed vs Koko B. Ware
Mid South represent. If I recall, this match happened because Koko wanted to be on the card and would face anyone to get on the show. Butch was so huge in his WWF run. Too huge, because he could no longer move around in the ring and would be blown up minutes in. Another short, nothing match that ends with Reed rolling through a cross body and holding the tights to get the win. Koko attacks him after the match. Slick then beats Koko with his cane until Tito returns and tears up Slick's new suit. Very rude. "It's that Latin temper of his, Monsoon."
TO THE MEAN GENE. Ricky Steamboat cuts a labored promo. He's still selling the layrnx injury, but he should is okay to wrestle. It's a good promo, though. Very serious, righteous babyface anger.
Randy Savage vs Ricky Steamboat WWF Intercontinental Championship
Let's see if this can live up to the hype. It's a legendary match, often cited as the best WM of all time before Taker/HBK happened. This is the only match on the card to have a build before January of 1987. However, I think there was all of one promo about it on PTW for 3 months, so most or all of it must have been built on Superstars. Seeing as Prime Time was basically an aggregate show for all of the WWF's programs, that seems kind of strange to me.
Steamboat starts out with a flurry of fast offense, and Macho slows it down with cheap shots and throat based offense. Steamboat focuses on the arm, presumably to try to counteract the elbow drop. There is a very roller coaster like pace to the match. They slowly go up the hill, then speed down it and go into a loop, only to slow back down and ratchet back up the hill. The slow parts seem a bit meandering, though. Really, Steamboat should have been counted out when he was knocked into the crowd, but Dave Hebner instead took a bunch of time to reprimand Savage in the ring, and then allowed George Steele to help Steamboat back into the ring. Jesse was disgusted. Steamboat fires up after the heat segment, which leads into one of my most hated spots: The rapid fire pin attempts sequences. Except here, it isn't very rapid fire, as both dudes are pretty tired. Of course, this all leads to...a ref bump. Macho hits the elbow and has the win, but the ref isn't up to count it. He takes the opportunity to attempt to use the bell on Steamboat's throat again. George Steele shoves him off the ropes, and Steamboat wins with a very weak small package OUTTA NOWHERE. New champion.
In the context of 1987 WWF, where body slams could still be considered high spots in some matches, it was special. Outside of the company, (mostly in Japan and Mexico, but also territories running RNR/Midnights) matches of the same intent and style had been done much better for nearly a decade. Ultimately, nothing was set up or payed off, and there was minimal story at best. Neither the arm work nor throat work had any impact on the rest of the match, Steamboat's furious anger died down a couple of minutes in, and having the heel get the visual win and then lose via interference is a strange booking choice. What you have is a "classic" that inspired a generation who had no access to Tiger Mask/Dynamite matches, or anything from CMLL.
TO THE MEAN GENE. Jake The Snake and Alice Cooper get to speak with Gene. This feud is another kind of random one. HTM blasted Jake with his guitar because...Jimmy Hart doesn't like snakes. INSTANT FEUD. Gene also spoke with HTM, but fuck him. Fucking lol, his promo got cut off. Got the hook on that fuck.
Jake Roberts vs Honky Tonk Man
Jake attacks as HTM is entering the ring. Jake dominates until HTM hits a knee in the corner. Not much happens in the match. Big surprise, there. Jake plays FIP for the majority and then HTM steals the win with a roll up while holding the ropes. Post match, Alice Cooper threw the snake on Jimmy Hart. Not even a post match DDT.
Fink brings out Mean Gene, who announces an all time indoor attendence record of 93, 173.
Iron Sheik/Nikolai Volkoff vs Killer Bees
Jim Duggan ran down to stop the Russian national anthem, and stayed around at ringside for the match. Nothing of note happens until the finish, in which Jim Duggan blasted Sheik with the 2x4, causing the Bees to be disqualified.
TO THE MEAN GENE. Andre and Brain get another promo. I don't really know what Andre said, but it was something about being the champ.
TO THE MEAN BROTHERJACKDUDE. Hogan is now coked up and insane, as opposed to his serious promo earlier.
Hulk Hogan vs Andre The Giant WWF Championship
This really is a massive match. So massive that the WWF was basically able to sell out the Silverdome based on 2 months of a build up for it. This all started over Hogan being presented a bigger trophy for his 3 years as champion than Andre got for his 15 years of being undefeated. Bobby Heenan got in Andre's ear, sensing that Andre was his best chance to finally dethrone Hogan. Over the past 2 months, much of the roster has been asked about who they think will win, and even a significant chunk of the faces think Hogan can't beat Andre.
The stare down alone is iconic, making its way into video games and art unrelated to pro wrestling. Andre very nearly gets the win in the first 30 seconds after Hogan fell trying to slam him. From the ref's point of view, it should have been a 3. He couldn't see the shoulder was (just barely) off the mat. This reminds me of a friend of mine who, when we were kids, thought a pin fall was broken by kicking your feet. He had no concept that you had to get a shoulder off the mat. He was an idiot and I made him cry in a camel clutch. We weren't friends much longer after that. Hogan hurt his back on the slam, and Andre goes to work on it. The crowd is deafening. As a kid, I thought Andre sucked. I was a stupid kid. Even in his last years when he could barely move, his matches always had rock solid psychology that made up for his lack of mobility. This match, for maybe the first time truly, has Hogan completely outmatched on a size and power perspective. He's faced big monsters like King Kong Bundy or Kamala, but nothing like Andre (as long as you ignore all the times before that he had wrestled Andre). Hogan briefly fires up and throws some punches. They barely phase Andre. Andre still physically dominates and locks on a bear hug, continuing to work on the injured back. Hogan's arm actually drops 3 times in the bear hug, but the ref checks his arm one more time. I've seen that happen in Ricky Steamboat matches a few times, and I always wonder if they just forgot to raise their arm. The Hulkamaniacs will him out of the bear hug. As things go to the floor, Andre ends up headbutting the ring post. Thankfully, after nearly 30 years, WWE has finally cut to a different angle that doesn't show Andre missing the post by 3 feet. Hulk tries a piledriver on the exposed floor, which seems like a pretty unwise move considering the size of Andre. Once they get back into the ring, Hogan hits an ax bomber than sends Andre to the mat. With the adrenaline flowing and power of the Hulkamaniacs in the air, Hulk is able to body slam the giant. Leg drop. Hogan wins! Title retained. Even Jesse Ventura has to give Hogan his props. Bobby Heenan's dejected stance on his way out of the arena was such a small thing, but a great touch that shows he knew this was his best chance to get the belt off of Hogan.
All in all, this was not a particularly good show. It looked amazing, and the crowd was super hot all night long. However, the wrestling was not very good, the stories leading into the show were sparse and undercooked, and no one even remembers anything outside of the two title matches. However, those two matches are pretty big deals in the history of the company. Steamboat/Savage is the original WWF workrate match and inspired an entire generation of wrestlers. It doesn't hold up, and it's not even Macho's best WM match (which is with Warrior at 7). Still, it's hard to deny its importance and influence.
Hogan/Andre, on the other hand, is something I think has been unfairly savaged online for years now. I feel comfortable saying it was a better match than Steamboat/Savage. It has a story, for one. Andre could barely move, only took two bumps, yet everything he did mattered and made sense. Hogan had to rely on the passion of his fans to power through the match, and in the end, the power of Hulkamania was the only thing that could defeat the giant after 15 years of not being pinned. It was a true passing of the torch moment, and it says a lot that Hogan beating Andre was treated as a bigger deal than making it 3 years as champion.