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Wrestlemania III

I'm sure many of you have heard of this one before...

Wrestlemania III without hyperbole was the pinnacle of the 80's wrestling explosion.  When announcers Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse Ventura announced this event as the "greatest wrestling extravaganza of all time," they finally WEREN'T exaggerating.  This is when everything came together for the WWF in the spring of 1987, as Hulk Hogan was at the peak of his first reign as champion.  Everyone I knew back then couldn't wait for this event to happen, and the fact that it was taking place locally at the Pontiac Silverdome made it even more special.  Oh, also the fact that they jammed 93,000 damn people into the Silverdome made it pretty sweet too.  Again, I cannot understate that this is the biggest and greatest event in the history of wrestling. 

Wrestlemania III  (March 29, 1987)

Right away we see a wide-shot of the massive crowd at the Silverdome, which really has to be seen to be believed.  God bless them Detroit fans!  Not only were there over 93,000 of them, but they were all super hot the entire show, cheering and booing like crazy for everything.  Aretha Franklin kicks it off with "America the Beautiful" and since this is a special occassion with WM3 and all, I'll refrain from making fat jokes I guess.

Match 1: Can-Am Connection vs Magnificent Murraco & Bob Orton

The Can-Am Connection was Rick Martel before he became "the Model" and Tom Zenk before he became "unemployed."  Murraco and Orton started teaming up after tearing Roddy Piper a new arse along with Adrian Adonis.  We'll get to that later though.  These two teams have a good little opener, with the Can-Am's pulling off some sweet double-team stuff.  Murraco gets pinned after a body press.

Match 2: Billy Jack Haynes vs Hercules

I should also note another reason this event is so cool is those little carts the wrestlers ride in to the ring during their entrances.  When a stadium is so big that you need to be DRIVEN to the ring, it's a cool show.  Anyway, these two guys were battling over who has the better full-nelson as a finisher.  Pretty simple logic, actually.  Maybe that's what Chris Masters needs is some guy to come in and go "hey, I got a better full-nelson than yours" and bam...feud of the year!  So Haynes and Hercules have a good power match back and forth, each get the full-nelson on each other and end up brawling to a double count-out.  Hercules then DESTROYS poor Billy Jack after the match with his mighty chain, the same one he pulled down the pilars of rome with.

Match 3: Hillbilly Jim, Haiti Kid & Little Beaver vs King Kong Bundy, Lord Littlebrook & Little Tokyo

The curse of the main event of WM continues, as Bundy goes from fighting Hogan for the title to fighting a Hillbilly and a bunch of midgets the next year.  And don't send any hate mail because they announce them as "midgets" on the damn show!  Anyway, Buffy redeems himself by providing an awesome highlight to this match, as one of the little guys (Little Beaver...please no ex-girlfriend jokes) starts smacking Muffy around and being a little agitator.  So Duffy finally snaps and squashes him!  He got DQ'd obviously.

Match 4: Junkyard Dog vs King Harley Race

The loser of this one had to bow and kneel before the winner.  That's another reason this show was so good, nearly all of the matches were between guys that were feuding with each other, not just matches thrown together for no reason.  Race bounces around the ring like a pinball the whole match, taking at least four tumbles over the top to the floor.  Bobby Heenan gets involved though, as he distracts JYD enough for Race to hit a belly-to-belly and get the win.  After the match JYD does a little bow and then smacks Race in the head with a chair and steals his king's robe.  That wasn't very nice of him.

Match 5: Rougeau Brothers vs Greg Valentine & Brutus Beefcake

The Rougeaus weren't quite "fabulous" yet, just a generic face team.  Valentine and Beefcake had Dino Bravo in their corner, and that becomes important later.  Gorilla makes note of Brutus's weird hairstyle, and that too becomes important later (Adrian Adonis "accidentally" cut his hair)  These two teams have yet another decent little match (sensing a pattern here?) until Beefcake nails Valentine by mistake.  The Rougeaus double-team Valentine until Bravo sneaks in and nails one of the Rougeaus and Valentine gets the pin.  Valentine and Bravo then leave Brutus behind while he questions the victory.  The seeds are in place for a turn...

Match 6: Haircut Match:  Roddy Piper vs Adrian Adonis

So during a "Piper's Pit" Adonis, Murraco and former bodyguard Bob Orton beat the hell out of Piper and shatter his knee.  Adonis then takes over the talk-show circuit, debuting "the Flower Shop."  Piper then returns with a baseball bat, chases everyone away and destroys Adrian's set!  This was another big-time feud, and the loser had to have his head shaved bald.  And to add even more intrigue, Piper announced that this would be his last match, as he wanted to retire and start making movies.  In 1987.  Yes you read that correct, Roddy Piper retired in 1987.  So he's had a few comeback attempts since then I guess.  Anyway, this match wasn't good from a techincal standpoint, but for sheer enjoyment there's few better.  It still gives me goosebumps to see the 93,000 people give Piper a standing ovation before the match.  And manager Jimmy Hart takes an absolute shit kicking in this one, the first of many tonight.  Anyway, Adonis puts Piper to sleep, only to have Brutus Beefcake come out of nowhere and save him.  Must've been pissed about that bad haircut.  Piper then comes back to life and puts Adonis out with the sleeper, and Brutus gives Adonis a horrible haircut, the first of many as he would go on to become "the Barber."

Match 7: British Bulldogs & Tito Santana vs Hart Foundation & Danny Davis

Another great story in this one, as Tito and the Bulldogs were screwed out of their respective titles by evil referee Danny Davis.  After Davis helped the Harts to win the tag titles, the WWF suspended him for life and forced him into this match.  God I hated Danny Davis back then.  The Bulldogs sic their dog Matilda on Jimmy Hart before the match, as he gets his ass kicked AGAIN.  Davis spends the match on the apron, only tagging in when one of the opponents are really hurt, just to drive the fans nuts.  Then the Harts get cocky and make a mistake, by slingshotting Davis onto Dynamite, who raises his knees...and tags in Santana, and then Davey Boy, who both procede to give Davis the worst damn mugging I've ever seen allowed in public!  This was SO cool back then.  Davey Boy gives Davis a piledriver that seriously bounces his head a foot off the mat.  Davis is out, but the Harts cheat and they win anyway.  To this day that still pisses me off a little bit.  But then again my life has no meaning, so whatever.

Match 8:  Koko B. Ware vs "The Natural" Butch Reed

Jesse spends the match referring to Koko as "Buckwheat."  If he tried that these days he'd be strung up by his nuts someplace.  He also makes a reference about Reed's manager Slick (who acted and looked like a pimp, even though they couldn't actually say that he was) looking like "he was ready for downtown Detroit."  That's pretty funny.  Anyway, Reed wins this one by pulling the tights (can't a heel just win without cheating damnit?)  Tito Santana comes back down and tears the Slickster's clothes apart.  I forget why, probably because he hates black people.

Match 9: IC Championship:  "Macho Man" Randy Savage vs Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat

And then there was this match.  Called quite often the greatest match in history, I'm sure there have been better matches since then but they're all compared to this one.  While it's a technical masterpiece, one of the main reasons this match was so great was the setup.  On an episode of the Saturday morning show, Steamboat challenged Savage for the title.  Savage snapped during the match after failing to put the Dragon away by smashing his throat across the outside guard rail, and then taking the ringside bell and smashing him in the throat again.  Steamboat was taken away by the paramedics in a dramatic scene that freaked me out as a kid.  Steamboat returned in a few months and vowed to kick Savage's butthole.  And in the midst of all this Savage still had to content with arch-nemesis George "The Animal"  Steele, who by this point was so infatuated with Elizabeth he actually kidnapped her on an episode of Saturday Night's Main Event!  And he was the good guy!  So Steamboat has the Animal in his corner for this classic match, and with his help (Savage was gonna smash the ringbell into Steamboat again but Steele took it away and pushed Savage off the top rope) Steamboat reverses a slam attempt and wins the title.  Another goosebump moment if there ever was one.

Match 10: Jake Roberts vs The Honkytonk Man

Yet another giant feud between these two, as Honkytonk hit the Snake over the head with his guitar to set this one up.  Jake has Alice Cooper with him, and of course the Detroit fans love that.  In yet another case of the bad guy cheating to win, Honkytonk takes this one by rolling up the Snake and holding the ropes.  Jake and Alice Cooper then abuse Jimmy Hart with the snake, and Jimmy's horrible night is finally over.

Match 11: The Killer Bees vs Nikolai Volcoff & The Iron Shiek

Volcoff tries to sing the Russian national anthem before the match, but "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan runs to the ring and attacks with his 2x4.  That was quite the long run-in.  The Bees are wearing really dumb looking black and yellow socks for some reason.  Just another generic tag match to calm people down before the main event.  Duggan starts chasing Slick and Volcoff around the ring and eventually runs into the ring to hit the Shiek and cause the DQ.  The Bees suprisingly didn't seem to care. 

Main Event:  WWF Championship:  Hulk Hogan vs Andre the Giant

Without a doubt the biggest main event in wrestling history, this is the reason 90,000 people packed into the Silverdome.  Andre was undefeated, finally turned heel and challenged Hogan for the title.  This was a toss-up among my friends, as some thought Hogan would win and some though Andre would.  The guest ring announcer was Bob Ueker (who also did a great job commentating during a few of the matches) and guest timekeeper was Mary Hart.  The fact that Andre was able to transform into this mega heel after being a good guy for 20 years was really cool, and the fact that he did it by one simple detail...he stopped smiling.  That was it.  When he stopped smiling, he went from Andre the friendly Giant who wrestled to Andre the guy who's gonna kill you because he can.  Andre and Hogan have a nice little battle, and of course at the end Hogan slams the Giant, drops the leg and pins him in the most memorable moment in wrestling history. 

Match of the night:  Duh...Savage vs Steamboat

Mark-out moment of the night:  Too damn many...Piper's standing ovation, Danny Davis getting murdered in the ring, Steamboat winning the title, and Hogan slamming the Giant.

Summary:  Every match is either good or memorable, and often times they're both.  I heard they're gonna re-release this on dvd soon.  If so, get the damn thing!  There's a reason why every other Wrestlemania will forever be compared to this one.

*****


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