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WWF WrestleMania IV Review

We’ve finally reached the big event – WrestleMania IV. The show drew a 485,000 buyrate on PPV, up from the prior year’s 400,000 and had an attendance of 19,199 people.

Enjoy the review!

Before starting, here is the list of champions at the time:

  • WWF Champion: – (vacated)
  • Intercontinental Champion: Honky Tonk Man
  • Tag Team Champions: Strike Force (Tito Santana & Rick Martel)
  • Women’s Champion: Sensational Sherri

The hosts are Gorilla Monsoon & Jesse Ventura

Match #1: Battle royal

The participants were Bad News Brown, The Bolsheviks (Nikolai Volkoff and Boris Zhukov), The Hart Foundation (Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart), The Killer Bees (B. Brian Blair and Jim Brunzell), Danny Davis, George Steele, Harley Race, Hillbilly Jim, The Rougeau Brothers (Jacques and Raymond), The Young Stallions (Paul Roma and Jim Powers), Junkyard Dog, Ken Patera, Ron Bass, Sam Houston, and Sika.

Weird to open a show, especially a WrestleMania, with a battle royal! George Steele starts the match on the outside while the usual kicking & punching happens inside the ring and a number of guys get thrown out. I’m finally able to follow the action a few minutes later, with Harley Race and Junkyard Dog getting into a headbutt fest. Ken Patera eliminates both Bolsheviks only to be eliminated by Brown. Jacques Rougeau, Harley Race and Paul Roma go as well, and we’re down to JYD, Bret Hart and Bad News Brown, who just recently made his debut.

The heels go after The Dog, whose hope spot – basically headbutts – is quickly cut off by Bret and BNB. They team up to toss him, and both celebrate together, wanting to share the trophy. Brown kills Bret with the enziguiri from behind, though, and dumps him to win the whole thing. Bret then gets back in to get his revenge and break the trophy in half, turning babyface and getting quite the great reaction.

This was your typical battle royal, with kicks, punches, people fighting in the corner, undercarders flying everywhere and not much going on. The ending was memorable, though, and it started Bret Hart’s (and technically Jim Neidhart’s) awesome babyface run. I don’t rate battle royales. As for the points, Bad News will get one for winning and Bret one as well for being the only highlight from this otherwise forgettable opener.

Tournament – first round

Match #2: ‘Hacksaw’ Jim Duggan vs. ‘The Million Dollar Man’ Ted DiBiase(w/ Andre the Giant & Virgil)

Here’s the first of maaany tournament matches to crown the new WWF Champion! Lockup gets things going, won by Duggan who is all fired up to start. Duggan dumps DiBiase, who bails. DiBiase gets back in with chops, but he’s not able to take control as Hacksaw keeps cutting him off. Ted finally catches him with a lariat, adding a middle-rope elbow and his usual fistdrop for two. DiBiase with another fistdrop but he misses a suplex, and Duggan makes him crazy comeback. He goes for his tackle thingie, but Andre trips him from the outside, which allows DiBiase to give him a knee to the back followed by a third fistdrop for the win.

Acceptable match with the right guy going over. Duggan looked out of position a number of times, though, so it must’ve been a long night for Mr. Hacksaw if you know what I mean. Watchable match despite being way too short. *1/2

Match #3: Dino Bravo(w/ Frenchy Martin) vs. ‘The Rock’ Don Muraco(w/ ‘Superstar’ Billy Graham)

Winner meets DiBiase in the next round. In other words, filler with the babyface going over so that the mega heel DiBiase can beat him in the second round. Yeah, that sums it up! Muraco with a powerslam and a splash for two. They get into a sequence of armdrags, won by Dino who then adds an elbow for two. Bravo with a gutwrench suplex but he misses a charge and hits knees in the corner, with The Rock immediately going after it. Muraco charges but hits the ref, though, after Bravo used him as a shield. Bravo finishes with the sideslam, but instead of counting the ref awards the match to Muraco via DQ. Hella laaaaaaaaameeeee.

Not much happened here. Filler with a shitty ending, with the winner quite clearly moving up to lose to the Million Dolar Man in the next round. 1/4*

Match #4: Ricky ‘The Dragon’ Steamboat vs. Greg ‘The Hammer’ Valentine(w/ Jimmy Hart)

This finally looks a bit better on paper, doesn’t it!? Classic Steamboat armdrags to start, going after the arm immediately. Valentine cuts him off and dumps him, but Steamboat skins the cat and dropkicks him for two back in. Valentine finally drops Ricky throat first on the ropes to stop Steamboat for good, chopping away and hitting the hammer for two. Backdrop suplex is blocked by The Dragon, though, who whips Hammer into the corner and goes right back to working the arm.

Valentine escapes that with an atomic drop and a clothesline, going after the throat on the outside. He only succeeds in waking up The Dragon, however, who fires away with some violent chops. Valentine catches him with a gutbuster and he goes to work on the legs. He gets into a chopfest with Steamboat, which doesn’t sound like a good idea, and indeed Ricky wins that one.

Hammer goes to the eyes to cut him off, though, and hits a shoulderbreaker. He drops a forearm off the top and is thinking Figure Four, but Steamboat chops his way out of it. The mega flying chop gets two. Steamboat sends Valentine into the turnbuckles a lot of times and goes up for the kill, but Valentine rolls over for the upset win to advance.

Good match between two great workers. Steamboat proceeds to do his classic pose and wave goodybe to the fans, having just worked his final match for the WWF before leaving to have the best trilogy ever with Flair in the NWA the following year. I can understand Valentine getting the win here, but considering Valentine wasn’t going to get a mega-push and the winner of this would meet Randy Savage in the next round, I would’ve personally put Savage over Steamboat instead in return for III. Valentine could’ve been protected with a DQ or some kind of finish that could set up a future program for him, but it is what it is. ***

Match #5: ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage(w/ Miss Elizabeth) vs. ‘Natural’ Butch Reed(w/ Slick)

Savage starts in control, but Reed catches him and drops a fist to take over. He pounds away as Savage is already playing macho-in-peril. Reed with a suplex and an elbowdrop gets two. Savage bails, but Reed necksnaps on the apron and stays in control. Savage’s comeback attempt is quickly killed by Reed, who hits a lariat. He goes up but takes waaay too long, distracted with Elizabeth, as Savage slams him off and quickly follows up with the Macho Elbow to advance.

After a pretty good Steamboat/Valentine match, we’re right back to the short and really basic matches. This was literally the heel taking over the whole match, getting distracted and losing to the babyface’s finisher. Simple as that. 1/2*

Match #6: Bam Bam Bigelow(w/ Oliver Humperdink) vs. One Man Gang(w/ Slick)

Gang slugs away to start, hitting a splash in the corner early on. He misses a charge, though, and Bam Bam runs wild. Splash, crossbody and a fistdrop all get two. Gang dumps Bam Bam, who eventually headbutts him and goes for his finisher, but Slick grabs his leg and Bam Bam doesn’t make it back in before the count of ten. Say it with me: l-a-m-e.

Four months earlier, Bam Bam was the highlight of the first Survivor Series in history, and here he’s being eliminated in under three minutes. I don’t know what happened, but Bigelow must’ve pissed off somebody. And I bet that somebdoy’s name starts with a V. This was nothing with a nothing finish. DUD

Match #7: Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts vs. ‘Ravishing’ Rick Rude(w/ Bobby Heenan)

Here it is, the final match of the tournament’s first round. Rude gets cocky to start, and that allows Roberts to take over. They trade slams and Roberts work the arm, keeping a hold of it and not letting Rude escape. Wristlock is turned into an armbar, before Rude finally manages to escape from it. Roberts catches him with a kneelift, though, and tries the DDT, but Rude blocks and he’s outta there in a hurry.

Rude gets back in and Roberts is immediately all over the arm again, until he misses a kneelift and Rude slaps on a chinlock. At this time, it’s quite clear this is ending in a time limit draw, and we even hear some ‘boring’ chants from the nasty 1988 smarky fans – which is a shame because the match is technically good. A number of Roberts comebacks are cut off by Rude, who keeps him in the chinlock. Snake breaks free but runs into an elbow, and back to the chinlock goes Rude, as at this point there’s no doubt how this one will end.

Roberts finally breaks free and starts going for the hope spot, with a backdrop and a clothesline setting up the DDT. Rude blocks, though, and a backdrop suplex gets two. They hit each other for the double KO spot, with Rude stealing the pin with his feet on the ropes… but the fifteen minute time limit expires at two. And they’re both eliminated, with One Man Gang automatically going to the finals. Yey!?

Technically speaking, this was one of the best matches of the first round, second only to Steamboat vs. Valentine. With that said, though, for a tournament match with little to no storyline to support it this was ridiculously long and got boring. Plus we have One Man Gang in the semis, because he’s big. Could’ve been Rude, who was a much more interesting cocky character (and he had Heenan), and would’ve guaranteed a much better match for later. But it is what it is, as we now take a break from the tournament. **

Match #8: The Ultimate Warrior vs. Hercules(w/ Bobby Heenan)

Here it is people, the PPV debut of this Ultimate Warrior guy – I’m sure you’ve probably heard of him! This was Warrior’s first feud, after four or five months of squashes, and he was put over like crazy in the build-up and was getting better and better reactions. Hercules, on the other hand, had surprisingly one of the best matches (apart from the famous ones) at WrestleMania III against Billy Jack Haynes, so I was excited for this one.

They no-sell a number of power moves to start, and Warrior misses a clothesline. That looked awful. Now Hercules clotheslines him, and it takes three to put him down. Immediately after that, it only takes one for Warrior to put the heel down. Hercules eventually dumps Warrior, though, and they brawl for a bit on the outside with Warrior selling nothing. Back in, they get into an awful-looking slugfest in the corner, with Hercules taking him down with an atomic drop. He sets up for the full nelson, but both go down for the double pin, with Warrior getting one shoulder up for the fluke win. What is up with these finishes on this show!!

This match was sloppy as hell, and Warrior definitely needed a better finish. This was very early in his career, and could’ve killed his push dead. It ultimately did not, but taking away the power of hindsight, this is nothing but the disappointment of the night. It gets nothing and likes it. DUD

Tournament – Quarter finals

Match #9: Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant(w/ Ted DiBiase & Virgil)

After over 93 thousand fans in the first encounter a year earlier, and after over thirty three million viewers in the second bout on The Main Event a couple of months previously, it was time for the third and final meeting. Andre is looking horrible at this point, struggling even to walk inside the ring. Andre takes over to start, until Hogan goes after DiBiase and starts delivering some chops.

Andre gets caught in the ropes as usual, and Hogan takes advantage of that to… pose and take off his shirt. He finally takes Andre down and drops some elbows, but Andre catches him and chokes him. And chokes him. And chokes him. And chokes him…. DiBiase gets a few shots behind the ref’s back, before eventually Hogan hulks up but DiBiase introduces a chair. They both use it, double disqualification, they’re both eliminated. Please say it with me again, this time in capital letters…

LAME

This was terrible, unquestionably the worst match of the three. By far. At least the crowd were into it, but apart from that there’s nothing to take from this “match”. 1/4* After the match, DiBiase runs away, so Hogan ends up killing poor Virgil with a suplex on the concrete that had to hurt like balls – ‘no way I’m taking that bump here, brother’ – with Hogan simply dropping Virgil from his shoulders all the way to the floor. And then he slams Andre before poses and poses and poses and more poses for like five minutes, despite having been eliminated. Not like he’d be back later that nig… oh shit.

Match #10: ‘The Million Dollar Man’ Ted DiBiase vs. ‘The Rock’ Don Muraco(w/ ‘Superstar’ Billy Graham)

Due to the result of the prior match, the winner of this one would automatically advance to the finals. Plus, DiBiase having no one in his corner creates an interesting and different scenario. Ted sells the fact that he’s alone to start, and that allows Muraco to run wild on him. Powerslam gets two. Fistdrop gets two. Dropkick gets two. DiBiase bails but runs into the former WWF Champion Graham, and that allows Muraco to stay in control. DiBiase finally cuts him off, though, using the ropes to yank Muraco right into the turnbuckle.

Now DiBiase pounds away on Muraco, choking him. A knee to the gut drops Muraco, and Ted fires away the million dollar fistdrops. DiBiase misses an elbow off the top, though, and feeds Muraco’s babyface comeback like crazy. He hits a number of clotheslines, before DiBiase catches him with a vicious stungun for the cheap win. And he qualifies for the title match already.

Another brief match, but damn did Muraco’s shit look good! He totally brought it against the top heel in the organization at the time, who was more than willing to make him look like a million dollars (no pun intended, HAHAHAHA) and the result was a perfectly acceptable match. Still way too short like most tournament matches, but watchable and decent. *3/4

Match #11: ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage(w/ Miss Elizabeth) vs. Greg ‘The Hammer’ Valentine(w/ Jimmy Hart)

This looks good on paper, especially after Valentine’s first-round hidden gem with Dragon. On the other hand, though, the matches have mostly been short. Valentine goes after Macho to start, who escapes with a kneedrop. Hammer cuts him off with a forearm off the top, and a shoulderbreaker gets two. Valentine dumps Savage, and chops away on the floor. Choking and shots to the throat follow, and gets a couple of nearfalls back in. Savage finally makes the comeback, but goes after Jimmy and Valentines is back in control. Suplex is blocked and Savage hits his own, but Valentine crotches him up top to prevent the Macho Elbow. He goes to school on the leg, setting up the figure-four, but Savage turns it into a cradle for the win.

Unlike Valentine’s first round match, this was shorter and basic. Everything looked good and believable, sure, because these two are awesome workers. But it was nothing out of this world. This ends the quarter-finals of the tournament, also. *1/4

Match #12: The Honky Tonk Man(c)(w/ Jimmy Hart & Peggy Sue) vs. Brutus ‘The Barber’ Beefcake – WWF Intercontinental Championship

This feud felt really rushed, as Beefcake was just starting a feud with Greg Valentine and the whole Savage/Honky disagreement forced them to pretty much switch everything. Beefcake kinda wants the title, but what he really wants is to cut the heels’ hair, so you can pretty much imagine his chances. Honky at this point has been the champion for about ten months. Honky starts in control, but Beefcake atomic drops him and GOES AFTER THE HAIR!!

Honky bails, and eventually catches Brutus and pounds away on him, with Jimmy adding a few shots. Honky goes for the Shake Rattle & Roll, but Beefcake holds on to the ropes and Honky takes the bump. Beefcake runs wild and eventually catches him in the sleeper, and Jimmy nails the ref with the megaphone for the DQ. Ain’t no stopping these shitty finishes, geez.

Beefcake then celebrates like nothing’s happened – you just lost a title match, you idiot! – and goes after Jimmy Hart, cutting a little bit of his hair to end the segment. Maybe I’m being generous, but I love Honky’s run and he never fails to entertain, so let’s call it 1/4*.

Match #13: The British Bulldogs (Davey Boy Smith & The Dynamite Kid) & Koko B. Ware vs. The Islanders (Haku & Tama) & Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan

Heenan, hilarious as usual, comes out with a ridiculous dog-proof vest to protect himself from Matilda! The Bulldogs double-team Tama to start, and a Smith slam gets two. Elbow misses, however, and Haku comes in to eat a slam himself as well. Smith goes to the chinlock, but the Islanders eventually corner him and take over. Smith finally escapes and brings in Koko, who takes out both Islanders.

Dynamite gets back in and he gets worked over, as Heenan finally tags in and immediately tags out after a single shot. Tama splash hits knees, though, and Koko gets the hot tag. Haku gets in for a cheap clothesline, which allows the heels to stay in control. Heenan tags back in and Koko quickly turns the tables, with everyone getting inside the ring and one of the Islanders slamming Koko for the Heenan pin.

This was nothing special and the crowd was tired at this point, but fuck it I’ll take what I can at this point. At least this had a story. *

Match #14: ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage(w/ Miss Elizabeth) vs. One Man Gang(w/ Slick) – WWF Championship Tournament Semi Final

The winner here of course meets Ted DiBiase for the belt in the final match. And Gang got the bye in the second round, having only wrestled one (very short) match. Gang attacks Savage to start, putting him down with forearms for two. A giant splash misses, though, but Savage goes for a slam (for some reason) that is obviously blocked and Gang chokes away. Slick goes after Elizabeth on the outside, and Gang uses a cane right in front of the ref to put Savage in the main-event via DQ like a complete dumbass. Giant facepalm, moving on… obviously this is nothing but a big fat DUD.

Match #15: Strike Force (Rick Martel & Tito Santana)(c) vs. Demolition (Ax & Smash)(w/ Mr. Fuji) – WWF Tag Team Championship

I was actually excited for this match going into this show, but at this point I just want this show to end. Demolition actually get a (small, but noticeable) babyface reaction, mostly because the Demos were cool as fuck with a badass theme song while the the champions had not only done nothing during their reign, but also looked like chumps next to these two larger-than-life proper superstars.

Smash completely overpowers Martel to start, and Santana comes in to dropkick him over. Ax gets in and Santana armdrags him, as the babyfaces work over the arm with quick tags. The Demos finally catch Tito, as they cheat for a while and Ax powerslams him for two. Heat spot follows, before Tito catches Ax with an great flying forearm and he brings in Martel for the hot tag. Martel puts Ax in the boston crab while the ref gets distracte with Fuji on the apron, and from behind Smash hits Martel with the cane for the win and the titles.

This was a decent match, but everyone was ready for this show to end at this point and this match died in the death slot. The win got a face pop and the Demos would go on to hold the titles forever, before the record was recently broken by… The New Day. Let that one sink in, I’ll wait! *3/4

Main-event: ‘The Million Dollar Man’ Ted DiBiase(w/ Andre the Giant) vs. ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage(w/ Miss Elizabeth) – Tournament Final Match for the vacant WWF Championship

Finally!!! They lockup to start as Andre already trips up Savage to make his presence felt. He does it twice, and the crowd starts chanting for Hogan. DiBiase goes after the arm but Savage clotheslines him a couple of times, and DiBiase bails. Back in, DiBiase gets a few shots until Savage necksnaps him on the ropes, and a high knee sends Ted into Andre. He goes up but Andre shields DiBiase, and Savage sends Liz to the back, and the Hogan chants get louder!

DiBiase hits the chinlock, and out comes Liz with the Hulkster, who takes a seat at ringside. Andre again trips Savage, and this time Hogan is immediately there to attack him. DiBiase gets a number of nearfalls inside the ring, with an elbowdrop, a suplex and a gutwrench suplex. DiBiase goes up only to get slammed off, but the Macho Elbow misses. It’s Million Dollar Dream time with Andre adding a shot, which brings Hogan inside for a chair shot to DiBiase’s back. A second Macho Elbow attempt connects, and three seconds later Savage is the undisputed WWF Champion.

Easily the match of the night and the reason why this show is remembered. Although it wasn’t technically as good as Steamboat vs. Valentine, it was still a good match and had drama and a story to support it and elevate it. The Mega Powers celebrate to close the show, as the build-up to WrestleMania V officially begins! ***1/4

Overall, I wouldn’t call this show BAD but it’s certainly weird and quite the struggle to get through. And it’s definitely not a good event. This ‘Mania gets a three out of ten.

Finally, here are the points for this crazy show:

  • Randy Savage: 10.5 points (5 for star ratings + 2 for pinfall wins + 0.5 for a DQ win + 2 for winning a title + 1 for main-eventing);
  • Ted DiBiase: 8.5 points (6.5 for star ratings + 2 for pinfall wins + 1 for main-eventing – 1 for a pinfall loss);
  • Ax: 5.25 points (1.75 for star rating + 1 for pinfall win + 2 for winning a title + 0.5 for picking up the fall);
  • Smash: 4.75 points (1.75 for star rating + 1 for pinfall win + 2 for winning a title)
  • Greg Valentine: 4.25 points (4.25 for star ratings + 1 for a pinfall win – 1 for a pinfall loss);
  • Bobby Heenan: 2.5 points (1 for star rating + 1 for pinfall win + 0.5 for picking up the fall);
  • Haku & Tama: 2 points (1 for star rating + 1 for pinfall win);
  • Jake Roberts & Rick Rude: 2 points (for star rating);
  • Ricky Steamboat: 2 points (3 for star rating – 1 for pinfall loss);
  • Don Muraco: 1.5 points (2 for star ratings + 0.5 for DQ win – 1 for pinfall loss);
  • Warrior: 1 point (for star rating);
  • Bad News Brown: 1 point (for winning the battle royal);
  • Bret Hart: 1 point (for face turn);
  • Honky Tonk Man: 0.75 points (0.25 for star rating + 1 for retaining a title – 0.5 for DQ loss);
  • Brutus Beefcake: 0.75 points (0.25 for star rating + 0.5 for DQ win);
  • Jim Duggan: 0.5 points (1.5 for star rating – 1 for pinfall loss);
  • Hogan & Andre: 0.25 points (for star rating);
  • One Man Gang: 0 points (0.5 for a CO win – 0.5 for a DQ loss);
  • Davey Boy & Dynamite Kid: 0 points (1 for star rating – 1 for pinfall loss);
  • Dino Bravo: -0.25 points (0.25 for star rating – 0.5 for DQ loss);
  • Butch Reed: -0.5 points (0.5 for star rating – 1 for pinfall loss);
  • Koko B. Ware: -0.5 points (1 for star rating – 1 for pinfall loss – 0.5 for giving up the fall);
  • Bam Bam Bigelow: -0.5 points (for CO loss);
  • Hercules: -1 point (for pinfall loss);
  • Tito Santana: -1.25 points (1.75 for star rating – 1 for pinfall loss – 2 for dropping a title);
  • Rick Martel: -1.75 points (1.75 for star rating – 1 for pinfall loss – 2 for dropping a title – 0.5 for giving up the fall)

That’s it, this was WrestleMania IV. I feel like I need another vacation after reviewing this whole show!! Thank you all and I’ll see you next time.