I’m going to go back through these and update some stuff since this is the weirdest Mania week ever. 1-6 now. Enjoy them. I know everyone is bored.
March 27, 1988
From the PRESIDENT TRUMP DOME in Atlantic City, New Jersey
Commentators: Gorilla Monsoon, Jesse “The Body” Ventura, Bob Uecker
- Mean Gene is out to welcome us to the show and introduces Gladys Knight, who sang “America the Beautiful”. Yeah, she is good at singing. Also her chicken restaurant in Atlanta is apparently FIRE and the only reason we didn’t go during WrestleMania 27 is because the line was around the damn building. True story.
- Gorilla and Jesse welcome us to the show proper before being joined by the always awesome Bob Uecker. He and Jesse give each other shit while Gorilla runs down the card.
20 Man Battle Royal: Bad News Brown, The Bolsheviks, The Hart Foundation, Killer Bees, “Dangerous” Danny Davis, George “The Animal” Steele, “King” Harley Race, Hillbilly Jim, The Rougeau Brothers, Young Stallions, Junk Yard Dog, Ken Patera, “Outlaw” Ron Bass, Sam Houston and Sika
As you can tell by the number of tag teams and dudes that were straight up past their time it was a get everyone on the card match. The Animal proves to be both an idiot and a genius by staying on the floor the entire match. It’s a big cluster fuck to begin. SAM HOUSTON is the first to be dumped since he weighs 37 pounds soaking wet. I never did get that guy. SIKA follows not long after due to being old as shit. THE ANVIL got too close to George on the outside and is pulled out. I’m not entirely sure that’s legal. BRIAN BLAIR is kinda just laying on the floor so I guess he was dumped. JIM BRUNZELL and RAY ROUGEAU eliminate each other. Not really a huge loss there.
The JYD dumps RON BASS not long after because we really needed to start pairing this down a bit. George takes a swing at Bass on his way out. I’m guessing they went ahead and disqualified THE ANIMAL due to him never entering the ring. HILLBILLY JIM is dumped by Boris Zhukov and continues to fall down the card. I mean really? Boris Zhukov shouldn’t have been dumping anyone ever. The power of Paul Roma allows him to eliminate sure fire Hall of Famer DANNY DAVIS with a Fireman’s Carry. The Hitman actually contributes finally by dumping human steroid JIM POWERS.
Harley and the JYD trade headbutts while resuming their rivalry from the previous year. Ken Patera dumps both NIKOLAI VOLKOFF and BORIS ZHUKOV back to back. Bad News Brown takes this opportunity to dump PATERA from behind because he was fucking awesome. Harley eliminates JACQUES in order to spare us a French Canadian winning. HARLEY didn’t have too long to celebrate due to JYD clothes-lining him out soon after.
Bad News continues to be my favorite by dumping Paul Roma’s Horsemen ruining ass. We are down to the final three and it didn’t look good for the Dog. He is double teamed by News and Bret off and on for a couple of minutes before they end up dumping him. Poor JYD. Bret and Bad News now celebrate their victory together before BAD NEWS SCREWS BRET and hits him with the Ghetto Blaster. News then kicks his ass and dumps him for the win. It was a battle royal so…not great. Bad News Brown would be the biggest babyface in the world had he come along just 10 years later. That guy screamed anti-hero asshole. 0-1
Winner: Bad News via shenanigans.
- After the match notorious whiny ass Bret Hart is a sore loser and a coward. He jumps News from behind and destroys his hard earned trophy. Eat shit Bret.
- Uecker bails on his announcing duties to hit on a 1988 Vanna White. Can you blame the dude? Google 1988 Vanna, I’ll wait…see?
- Robin Leach (Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous…Vince has always been a mark for rich folks, see also Trump, Donald) reads a scroll that starts the 14 man single elimination tournament.
First Round- Single: “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan v “Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiase (with Virgil/Andre)
After a little bit of stalling we head into some fisticuffs and an immediate Atomic Drop by Duggan. It was apparently so Atomic that Ted had to bump to the floor and regroup. Dibiase comes back with one of his “WrestleMania: Video Game” moves by giving Duggan an eye gouge. He follows up with some chops but that doesn’t last long because Jim catches him with a clothesline. Duggan nails the 10 corner punches but gets caught with a boot after charging Ted in the corner. Ted starts nailing him with some shots, a clothesline, 2nd rope elbow and a fist drop for 2. Duggan tries to fight back and even manages to catch Dibiase with a sunset flip for 2. Ted regains control with an Irish whip and big knee to the gut followed by another fist drop. We aren’t exactly bringing all of the move set out tonight. Duggan gets back into it after reversing a vertical suplex. He startes nailing some big shots and a pretty nice bodyslam before setting up for his 3-point Stance clothesline. Unfortunately for him he sets up too close to the Giant and gets tripped up. Duggan makes the mistake of going after Andre and ends up getting both punched by the Giant and nailed by Dibiase from behind at the same time. One more fist drop and it was over. This didn’t last long and there wasn’t much to it. It really just set up the story that Andre being in Dibiase’s corner was going to be a very hard thing to overcome. Both guys looked fine but the match was too short to mean anything. 0-2
Winner: Dibiase after a fist drop and a little help from Andre.
- Mean Gene is with a coked out of his gourd Brutus Beefcake. He manages to threaten Jimmy Hart and be weird. That’s pretty much it.
First Round-Single: “Canada’s Strongest Man” Dino Bravo (w/Frenchie Martin) v Don “The Rock” Muraco (w/”Superstar” Billy Graham)
Jesse is pretty awesome by declaring he invented tie die and Billy Graham was only able to win the title because he fought an easy champion. What a jerk. I really want to know what the combined monthly steroid bill was in this match. Dino starts with some chops but that is quickly reversed into a clothesline and big slam from Rock. Don goes for what looks like a Vaderbomb but ends up slipping and hitting a weak elbow for 1. He stays in control however and nails a big back body drop and an arm-drag. A second arm-drag is botched and Bravo takes over. He nails some stomps, a gut-wrench suplex and some punches before missing a running knee to the corner. Muraco now starts working the leg and even locks in a spinning toe hold to keep control. He keeps that going for about a minute when Dino kicks him off and Rock gets hung between the top and second rope. Dino nails him with a piledriver when he returns but his celebration causes it to only get a 2 count. A second piledriver attempt is blocked and leads to a double clothesline spot that layed out both guys. Muraco nails Dino with a flying forearm when they get back to their feet. He follows that up with a big slam and a second attempt at a forearm, sadly the ref is bumped this time. Rock goes to check on the ref but Bravo nails him from behind and then nails his side suplex and goes for the pin. (That move was never a believable finisher, even when I was 10.) The ref revives and calls for the bell immediately. Wow, this had a lot of punching and kicking. Both guys looked blown up way early. The only actual decent wrestling was when Rock worked the leg. It was also short but in this case that was a good thing. Still trash though 0-3.
Winner: Don gets the DQ victory due to Bravo pulling the ref into harms way.
- Bob Uecker is backstage with Jimmy and Honky. Apparently there won’t be a haircut going on later.
First Round-Single: Greg “The Hammer” Valentine v Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat
Ricky brings the little Dragon out to the ring with him and Bonnie takes him to the back. From what I hear about that divorce it wouldn’t be the last time she took his entire world. Starting out with some back and forth collar and elbow action. Dragon comes out with an armdrag into an armbar then follows those off with some chops for 2. Ricky hits a couple of big running shoulder blocks for another 2 count. Greg thought he turned it around by tossing Ricky but he was able to skin the cat and land a dropkick into Valentine’s back for another 2. We go back to the arm and Jesse is able to work his yearly Barry Blaustein reference in. Hammer finally is able to get some offense going with some shots, standing on his neck and a big forearm drop for 2. Hammer goes for a suplex but Steamboat flips out of it. From there he rams Hammer’s head into the buckle and nails a forearm then back to working the arm. Hammer comes back with an inverted Atomic Drop and a big clothesline to take control. Hammer lays in some elbows and chops to keep Dragon down. President Trump is shown on camera and his leadership must have inspired Ricky because he fires up with some chops and kicks. He goes for a slam but Hammer reverses that for 2. Hammer back in control with a couple of forearms, a gutbuster and the wishbone headbutt. He tries the Figure Four but is kicked off into the buckle by Dragon. Ricky and Greg are now trading big shots back and forth until Dragon hits a huge chop that leads to a Flair (really Valentine but whatever) Flop and a 2 count. Hammer gets a thumb to the eye and a shoulder breaker for another 2. Hammer nails a big chop from the top and goes in for the Figure Four again but Steamboat stops that with a hard shot. Dragon catches him with a nice back flying elbow and regains control. He followed that up with a big top rope head chop for 2. Dragon then goes for the ten turnbuckle head ram spot ,but Hebner gets in the way and into it with Dragon (Damn the Hebners were always interfering). Ricky was pretty frustrated at this point and goes off to nail Valentine with the Crossbody, unfortunately for him Hammer rolls though and pulls the tights for the pin. This was probably the best match on the card so far. Both of these guys weren’t afraid of laying some shots in. It sucks that we didn’t get the Savage/Steamboat rematch in the next round but it is what it is. I’m sure it had nothing to do with them stealing the show the year previous. 1-4
Winner:Valentine off a roll through and some tight pulling.
- The Dragon waves goodbye and we see our future President again.
- Gene is with the Bulldogs, Matilda, Koko and Frankie. I remember why Dynamite kid is not regarded as much for his promos as he was his matches. Koko is out of his damn mind y’all.
First Round-Single: “The Natural” Butch Reed (w/Slick) v “Macho Man” Randy Savage (w/Miss Elizabeth)
First off…no Jive Soul Bro? What the hell WWE Network? Liz looks um…yeah. We start out with Savage showing his quickness and Reed trying to show the strength. Reed tosses him in the corner and nails him with some knees. He then stays on Macho with a fist drop and a ram into the turnbuckle. Savage is able to reverse the second attempt and catch Butch with a knee lift. Randy tries a vertical but Butch is too strong and reverses it into a suplex of his own. Natural then drops a big elbow for 2. He stays control with some punches and drops Randy throat first on the top, sending him to the floor. Butch stays in control and stomps Macho on his way back in. He follows that up with a big back elbow and a fist drop from the second. Butch goes for a back body drop but Randy catches him with a kick to the mush and some jabs. Randy nails an elbow but his Irish Whip attempt is reversed. Reed tries to follow him in for a big elbow but Savage is too quick, but not quick enough to avoid the big Reed clothesline that followed. Natural starts to head up top but stops to talk shit to Liz. That turned out to be a mistake, one big top rope slam and an elbow later and it’s over. Macho had a pattern to his babyface matches that was in full effect here. Sell, sell, bug elbow and pin. That being said Randy was awesome and even just going through the motions was better than most who ever did it. 1 down for the Macho Man. 2-5
Winner: Savage with the big elbow.
- We join Uecker on his Vanna hunt, but once again he has to deal with Heel interviews. This time the Brain and the Islanders get to deal with him. Brain levels him with this gem “You got 700,000 votes for the Hall of Fame, you’d have had more but you ran out of stamps”. The Brain was the fucking best.
First Round-Single: One Man Gang (w/Slick) v Bam Bam Bigelow (w/Oliver Humperdink)
Man, I wonder just who the Hell Bam Bam pissed off for this.Gang jumps him from behind and immediately lays into him with punches and forearms. He follows that up with an Irish Whip into the corner and a splash to the back. A second attempt Bigelow is able to avoid to take over. Bammer nails him with a big shoulder block, does his cartwheel and a really bad splash for 1. (He literally didn’t leave the ground.) He then nails a cross-body and some more big forearms, each getting a 2 count. BBB stays in control and is even able to take him down a couple times with a clothesline and headbutt. He follows up with a falling headbutt and goes to his the ropes but Slick pulls them down and he topples to the floor. Oh and Slick did this WITH THE REF CLEARLY WATCHING. Gang catches Bammer on the apron with some shots but it didn’t matter since the ref called for the bell. Not only was Bam Bam on the apron but his foot was in the ring. I don’t know what the hell happened here. The match structure was fine, two big guys shouldn’t go 15 minutes, but the end made Bam Bam and the official look awful. The ref literally looked at two different things that changed the outcome of the match and ignored them. I understand BBB couldn’t win due to the booking but he didn’t need to look like a loser in his home town. 2-6
Winner:One Man Gang via the world’s dumbest count out.
- Gene is with the Hulkster, who then cuts a whacked out interview about saving Trump from a bodyslam caused earthquake. The 80’s man…they were a weird time.
- Rude comes out and does his usual promo but cracks me up by saying that the “odds were in his favorite”. Not sure why it was funny but it was.
First Round-Single: “Ravishing” Rick Rude (w/Bobby “The Brain” Heenan) v Jake “The Snake” Roberts
For the sake of getting this show done this century I”m skipping the play by play and just hitting the meat of the match. They couldn’t have foreshadowed a draw any more had they had a sign above the ring saying it was coming. Outside a few flurries of action and some (obviously) blocked DDT attempts this was mostly punching, hip swiveling and chinlocks. The Brain didn’t even factor in to the match enough to make it entertaining. I guess they needed Gang to get a bye for the Savage story but making this shorter as a double DQ or something would have been way more entertaining. 2-7
Winner:Draw (One Man Gang gets a bye in Round 2)
- Gene is backstage at the big tournament board and is joined by Vanna White. She showed why her acting career never took off by picking her favorites in the next round. Oh and she chose, Hogan, Muraco and Savage.
Hercules (w/the Brain) v Ultimate Warrior
If you like two jacked up dudes nailing punches and forearms do I have a match for you! It was actually fine for what it was but Warrior went through bouts of no selling Herc’s offense. I assume that is because he would soon have a rocket strapped to his ass in a big way. There were maybe 4 moves total and one of them was the terrible Full Nelson applied by Herc before the finish. If you missed this then you are probably not any worse off for it. 2-8
Winner: Warrior kicked off the buckles while locked in a Full Nelson and lifted his shoulder before the 3 count.
- After that mat classic Hercules attacks Warrior with the chain. It didn’t work out that well because Warrior took it from him and swung it like Leatherface at the end of Texas Chainsaw.
- Gorilla and Jesse hype the upcoming Hogan/Andre match and we see Sugar Ray Leonard in the crowd.
- We then get a video recap of the entire Hogan/Andre feud.
Second Round-Single: Andre the Giant (w/Dibiase and Virgil) vs Hulk Hogan
If people paid to see this match they were sadly disappointed. Andre jumps him to start and
PLEASE CHANGE TO THE SECOND VIDEOCASSETTE!
Sorry, I watched this tape a lot as as kid. Anyway there wasn’t much to this match maybe 5 minutes of action tops, and none of it spectacular. Some punches from Hogan and some chokes from Andre. What an awesome way to start off the second round! 2-9
Winner: Double DQ after a couple of the weakest chair shots you will ever see.
- After the match Hogan chases down Dibiase and Virgil. Virgil is then sacrificed by Dibiase for a Hogan suplex (Hogan just fucking DROPS him, doesn’t even go to the floor with it). From there our hero goes back to the ring, slammed Andre and poses for longer than the match lasted. Future President Trump looks mesmerized and probably thought this was what a real fight looked like.
- Gene is with Macho and Liz (both now in pink) and Macho kisses Hogan’s ass and promises to win the title.
Second Round-Single: Don Muraco (w/Superstar) v Ted Dibiase
Dibiase had to come out alone for this one. It was really a tale of two matches, Muraco jumped him and controlled the first half pretty easily. After Dibiase reversed the momentum he was in control (except for a couple of hope spots) the rest of the way. It was fine but Muraco looked like he was dying out there. 2-10
Winner: Dibiase got the pin after a vicious Stun Gun.
- Uecker is still looking for Vanna but instead gets Demolition and Fuji. They threaten Strike Force and young me had a new favorite team for like 3 years or so.
- One Man Gang gets introduced in the ring and accepts his bye into the next round. That’s an awesome dick move.
Second Round-Single: Greg Valentine (w/Jimmy Hart) v Randy Savage (w/Elizabeth)
The reason they stuck with the Savage babyface formula is because it worked. Valentine was a guy I always felt was underrated and could probably still have this match today. A lot of punishment layed in by the Hammer and a couple of signature moves from Macho made for an entertaining but short match. 3-11
Winner: Savage got the win following blocking a Figure Four with a small package.
- Gene is back with Vanna at the big board. She still doesn’t know who Uecker is and Gene hits on her. I’m honestly not surprised by this.
Intercontinental Championship: (C) The Honky Tonk Man (w/
Sherri Peggy Sue and Jimmy Hart) v Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake
Jesse gets his usual hello to his family in this one. Honky had been having matches like this for a long time. Getting his ass kicked, finally getting some offense and then somehow surviving with the championship. Unfortunately for him this would be the last PPV that he would be able to walk out with the title because Summer Slam was the end of the line. Beefcake was fine but just not the guy they wanted apparently. The match was a Honky Tonk match, but it was a Honky match 12 deep so I was over it. 3-12
Winner: Beefcake by DQ after the Colonel nailed the ref with a megaphone shot.
- Beefcake is able to chase Jimmy down and cut his hair but that a’int a title win.
- Uecker once again fails to find Vanna but he does find Andre in one of the most memorable interviews in wrestling history. So good for him.
The Islanders/Bobby Heenan v The British Bulldogs/Koko B Ware
Heenan comes out in a dog training suit to protect himself from Matilda. Bobby is a damn genius and a statue needs to be erected in his honor immediately. He was the second best (Dynamite was slightly better) bumper in the entire match. I love the Islanders and feel they should have been champs at some point. This was a really fun match that was set up the same way all great matches are, by kidnapping a dog (See Also: Kennel form Hell). Everybody looked great and the crowd was into so how could I complain? 4-13
Winner: The Islanders gave Bobby a Double slam on Koko for the pin.
- After the match Matilda gets a bit of revenge and attacks the Brain in the aisle.
- The Fink introduces Jesse for his yearly pose session. Still looked pretty good.
- Then the Million Dollar Man is in the ring to graciously accept his bye into the finals.
Semi Finals- Single: One Man Gang (w/Slick) vs Randy Savage (w/Liz)
Savage and Liz are rocking the black for this go round. Gang was rested after sitting out the previous round so he was all over Randy. It was a really methodical match with Gang in control throughout. Slick going after Liz turned out to be the thing that cost his man the match in the end. 3 matches in so anything Macho does is pretty amazing at this point. 4-14
Winner: Savage after Gang is caught with Slick’s cane.
- Gene is with Vanna but she has to bail for ringside. (Gene checks out her ass on the way out.) Uecker shows up just a tad late to make their love connection.
Tag Team Championship: Demolition (wi/Mr. Fuji) vs (C) Strike Force
Oh yeah they kept in Demolition’s awesome ass theme song! This is a weird one for me because as individual wrestlers I love Strike Force, but as a team they can kiss my ass. Now Demolition I am the other way around and hate (most) of their singles stuff but they are my FUCKING JAM as a tag team. Even as a kid I wanted Demolition to murder these guys and they came through for me. We had an actual awesome moment on this soul less show. 5-15
Winner: Smash pinned Martel after an Ax cane shot.
- We get introduced to out special guest for the main event; Robin Leach to present the belt, Uecker as ring announcer and Vanna as time keeper. Both Bob and Vanna get accosted by a drunk dude with a cigarette hanging out of his mouth on the way to the ring. All 3 have to stop and talk to our future President before hitting the ring as well.
Finals for the WWE Championship: Ted Dibiase (w/Andre) vs Randy Savage (w/Liz)
They would have better matches in the future but this was easily the most important. It seemed like the entire thing was built around waiting for Hogan but that hardly mattered. After wrestling 4 times and busting his ass the Macho Man would finally get the championship he so richly deserved. Him winning his first world title almost makes up for the previous 256 matches we had to sit through to get here. It wasn’t great but it was memorable, most of the time that’s all that matters. 6-16
Winner: Savage got the pin after a Hogan chair shot and big elbow.
- Hogan celebrates with the new champ and Liz, I don’t know that he was trying to steal his moment but he probably should have given him the ring at that point.
Overall Thoughts: Man this was a long bastard. I loved this thing as a kid but as an adult it is hard to sit through. It had a couple of really memorable title changes and a whole lot of short and or boring stuff. Check the title changes out elsewhere if you can, or if you have a lot of free time check the entire 47 hour show out on the network. As for me this was my last viewing of this show and a little bit of my childhood dies.
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