I had to revamp my Wrestlemania project because I was going to struggle to get through the matches. I knew I had to do the mixed tag in Wrestlemania VI and then the retirement match in Wrestlemania VII and thinking about all the dead participants got to me.
So after a few days I have decided to go a different direction and put some of Wrestlemania’s greatest (or worst) matches up against matches featuring the same opponents from different cards and deciding which match was better.
It’s a bit of a knockoff of John Petrie’s Slobberknocker Central from the late 90s as I was a big fan of what Petrie did.
It’s a bit of a read but nothing crazy like…um….posting three separate rants from the same card in one post. Who would do something silly like that???
Wrestlemania Challenge: Wrestlemania VII
From the L.A. Sports Arena in Los Angeles, California
Hosted by Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby “The Brain” Heenan
“Career-Ending Match”: The Ultimate Warrior vs. “Macho King” Randy Savage
Needless to say this stipulation didn’t amount to much as Savage was in the WWF World title match for Wrestlemania VIII. The storyline isn’t too out-of-bounds. Warrior was the world champion, Savage wanted a title shot and pissed on Warrior’s foot for a while but Warrior wouldn’t relent. So Savage took matters into his own hand and costs Warrior his title at Royal Rumble 1991 (once again doing Hogan’s dirty work, he never did learn). In preparation for this match Warrior ended Brother Love’s career (although he also returned sporadically).
Before the match Heenan brings attention to a special observer in the crowd – Miss Elizabeth, looking as classy and beautiful as she always did. Warrior actually takes a casual stroll to the ring this time as compared to running like an idiot and blowing himself up (I’m guessing Savage recommended he conserve energy). This match definitely set the standards for tassels and streamers in ones ring gear. Warrior’s cloak is full of them and you know the Macho King is second to none with the ring gear complete with the cowboy hat (which he made cool 15 years before sorority girls in the south wore them at every college football game). Savage is of course accompanied by Queen Sherri while Warrior has the voices in his head (who have since left him for Randy Orton). Sherri’s outfit manages to be tacky and sexy at the same time.
They actually stall for about 5-6 minutes to kind of build the importance of this match and while watching this as a teenager you had a feeling they were going to try to get to a special level. I love Elizabeth’s emotional looks too as she’s obviously there for Savage because she loves him but she can’t bring herself to root for him because of the way he always treated her.
Anyway we lock up and Warrior shoves the King down quickly. So Savage removes his shirt. Nice touch. Savage goes on the offensive quick with some cheap moves but a shoulder block sends him to the floor. Sherri distracts Warrior to give Savage an opening but Warrior ends that with a clothesline and a standing choke. Inverted atomic drop from the Warrior and then an atomic drop and back to another choke as Sherri tries to interfere. Warrior thwarts that and ties Savage up in the ropes where he can beat him up some more. Warrior with a shot to the gut but he sets too early and Savage hits him with the boot and the flying clothesline. Savage goes to the top but Warrior catches him, sets him down and slaps him! Fuck man! Savage is PISSED, goes to the floor and tosses a steel chair in the ring. That distracts Warrior long enough for Savage to jump him but Warrior just overpowers the king and stays on the attack. Corner whip for Savage and Warrior follows in to stomp a mudhole in the king and walk it dry. Warrior repeatedly knocks Savage down with one punch but misses a blind charge and tumbles to the floor. Sherri roughs him up on the floor and Savage comes off of the top with the flying axehandle. Sherri continues to beat Warrior up on the floor but Warrior shoves her down and stalks until Savage makes the save and sends Warrior to the post. Sherri comes back for more and hits a kneelift.
Back in the ring and Savage with a slam and the knee drop for two. Savage goes for a reverse neckbreaker but Warrior backslides him for two and we reset. Savage spits on Warrior and runs as Sherri tries to distract him again. It doesn’t work, however and Warrior hits a clothesline but misses the flying shoulderblock. Savage gets a two count and goes to the rest hold to make sure Warrior still has gas left in the tank and build heat for the finish. After a minute or so Warrior breaks the hold but the double clothesline floors both men. Sherri continues to bring the awesome as she tries to revive Savage and then distracts the referee when Warrior gets Savage in an inside cradle. He gets two and bitches to the ref so Savage hits a high knee that sends Warrior into the ref and knocks him out. Savage holds Warrior for Sherri to hit him with her shoe but Warrior moves and she knocks out the king. Warrior is totally perturbed and chases Sherri around but that gives Savage time to roll up Warrior for two (I think he had a handful of tights too, if he didn’t he should have). Warrior goes back on the offensive but Savage sends him into the buckle and adds a hangman slam. Savage with the top rope hangman and back in the ring with a scoop slam for two. Savage goes to the top and hits the big elbow. But this is a retirement match so he hits a second. And well Warrior is a tough opponent so he hits a third. And well because the move is so awesome he hits a fourth. And because nothing should end on four Savage hits a fifth elbow….and gets a two count (still amazingly that finisher wasn’t buried, shows you how awesome Savage was). Warrior is slightly re-energized by the recent events and comes back with punches and three running clotheslines. Press slam time and the big splash gets…two???!?!?! (What the fuck, who does Savage think he is? Hogan?). By the way I was going absolutely apeshit at this point and professing my love for Savage (I was a huge Sherri mark at the time, sue me).
Warrior is shocked that his move didn’t work and he looks up to the top of the L.A. Sports Arena wondering how this happened. He threatens to leave the ring but we wouldn’t be so lucky. Thankfully Savage helps to make up his mind with another cheap shot. Savage drapes Warrior over the railing and goes to the top but Warrior fights Sherri off and catches Savage as he comes to the floor. Warrior has had a change of heart and decides to stick around. Three massive flying shoulderblocks later Warrior sticks his foot on Savage’s chest and gets the dramatic three count to end a wonderful match.
(Warrior def. Savage, pinfall, ****1/4, a great match, a greater storyline though. Savage took Warrior to another level even though Warrior had issues chaining moves together. The dramatics come post-match when Sherri goes mad on Savage and beats the hell out of him until Elizabeth makes the save and they reconcile. It was a beautiful and I’ll admit I might have cried too. Ok, I absolutely lost it when he held the ropes for her. In hindsight it just hammers home how great Sherri was. She was an awesome heel manager and she always took her lumps in the end and sold for everyone from Elizabeth to Sapphire. It’s still a beautiful ending in a lot of ways but given what the future would hold it just doesn’t grip me like it used to. I come away from it missing Sherri…missing Elizabeth…missing Savage and wishing they were all here to talk about it 20 years later. I guess I’m glad Savage had that moment – probably his Wrestlemania moment.)
And the Challenger: Summerslam 1992
Recorded August 29, 1992, aired August 31, 1992 from Wembley Stadium in London, England
Hosted by Vince McMahon & Bobby “The Brain” Heenan
You wonder why the WWE can’t hold another Summerslam or Wrestlemania or any of their big PPV annuals overseas? Blame the internet.
WWF Championship Match: Randy Savage vs. The Ultimate Warrior
This is the lesser known of their two encounters but it may have been the better match. We shall see. The big storyline (and there’s a YouTube Channel that has the full buildup to this match – it was very very good) is which side will Mr. Perfect be on. Of course Perfect was Flair’s advisor and the answer is simple. But we still got sucked in because we watch this to begin with.
The crowd is HOT. I mean lava-esque as the two beloved faces square off. They try a handshake but that doesn’t go well and a good thing too because the crowd wants to see a FIGHT. Savage does this hilarious pre-match stretch routine so Warrior tries it and trips on the ropes. Funny (still is). Finally after a three-minute stall we lockup (what is with these guys and their stalling). Nothing happens. Second lockup and Warrior powers him down. Third lock…nope Savage with a kick to the gut and the flying clotheslines. Then a nasty clothesline to the back of the head for an almost one count. Savage to the top and Warrior catches him on the way down. Big atomic drop grounds Savage. Inverted atomic drop follows as Warrior decided to focus on Savage’s source of Macho. Big clothesline gets two. Warrior gets two shoulderblocks but misses the elbow. Savage goes for the ground and pound and gets the double knee drop for two. Chinlock time as Warrior is probably spent from the fast pace. Nope Warrior with a facebuster and then a face-first slam to the mat for a two count. Warrior sends Savage to the buckle and drops him with a superman punch. A second superman punch drops Savage again. A third and fourth superman punch follow (superman punches are just attempted knockout blows…they of a strong grapple punch instead of just a regular punch). Warrior whips Savage to the other buckle and follows in with ten kicks to the stomach. Short-armed clothesline gets two. Savage tried to go for a leverage move and send Warrior in the buckle but Warrior botches the move so Savage just tries it again and it works. I think he was hoping the editing crew would bail him out. Savage clotheslines Warrior over the top and gets booed?!?!? Crowd is 65-35 for Warrior.
Savage brings Warrior back in for two. Savage goes to the top and hits the double axe but Warrior no sells. Second one does the trick, however, and gets two. Savage goes to the top for a high cross body – a move he’s never had success at – and Warrior catches him in the air and hits a beautiful backbreaker for two. Warrior whips Savage to one corner and then the other. Another superman punch and Savage sells these things great. Warrior whips him to the buckle again and yet again and again. Bearhug but he uses it as an attack move instead of a rest hold – he just grabbed him, squeezed him and dropped him – it got two. Sidewalk slam by Warrior gets two. Look at the moveset there. Savage surprises Warrior with a small package for two. Savage catches Warrior set too early and gives him a swinging neckbreaker and gets two. Savage with the top-rope neck clothesline that gets two. Savage goes for a vertical suplex but the pounding done to his back takes its toll. Warrior pounds on the back with forearms but he’s selling his own neck injury. Big vertical suplex by Warrior gets two. Savage gets to the ropes and Warrior charges but Savage ducks and Warriors goes flying to the outside. Savage goes to the top and hits the double axe. Savage interrupts the count, however, and continues the assault on the outside. Savage sends Warrior into the ring steps – a deadly move in 1992 – and interrupts the count again. Savage sends Warrior into the ring post and at this point he only needs to hit a piledriver to kill him. Savage, however, ignores my wishes and pounds away some more. Back in the ring and a cover gets two as Flair (in wrestling gear) and Perfect stroll to the ring.
Savage finally goes for a piledriver but Warrior reverses it, which Savage transitions into a sunset flip for two. Warrior is up first and hits the clothesline for two. Warrior with a big body slam and he’s still selling the neck injury. Wow. Warrior’s tumbling splash hits knees and Savage’s cover gets two. Double clothesline as the crowd is now pre-occupied with Perfect and Flair. Warrior recovers first and gets two and then Savage covers for two. That must have been a hell of a kickout. Savage goes to the ropes and Perfect trips him. Hmmm. That settles it, Warrior is the sell out. Savage turns his back and Warrior recovers and hits a superman punch but now he’s getting booed. Man they should have just pulled the trigger on this turn. Double choke slam by Warrior. The old reversal corner whip takes out the referee. Body slam by Warrior and he goes to the top and hits the double axe (he gets cheered again). Referee is woozy but gets two. Warrior bitches to the official and Savage uses the distraction to hit the Warrior with a high knee that takes the referee out for good. Piledriver by Savage but he’s got no official. So he goes to check on him and Perfect comes in the ring to revive Warrior…uhh no he holds him so Flair can wallop him with the brass knucks…So Savage is the sell out? Makes sense, they were probably doubling up on Elizabeth anyway (not funny Princess). Bodyslam by Savage and it’s time for the big elbow so we can end this sucker. Elbow hits, Savage GRABS THE TIGHTS too and it only gets two!!! C’mon man (you’re telling me a piledriver, brass knucks, the big elbow and grabbing the tights doesn’t do it? That’s like the heel diamond move set)!
Anyway Warrior starts no-selling because if that doesn’t kill him what will. Clothesline city, we go to London and Liverpool and Manchester (Princess trying too hard to be clever there). Super duper shoulderblock and the crowd is damn near 100% behind the power of the Warrior now. Big press slam and Perfect tries to trip Warrior but Warrior escapes only to run into a chair shot from Flair on the other side. Savage opts not to cover and is starting to wonder what’s going on here. Fuck that man, hit the elbow and let’s get to the pubs (Can I just be a huge Savage mark? Can I? Like a fiend I can. Truly he was my original Shawn Michaels). Savage takes a kick at Perfect but figures it’s time to hit the elbow and be done. Just do it Randy. Trust me. Quit thinking about it…Don’t do…too late he jumps after Flair but Flair is way too smart for that and catches him with a chair, forcing the countout. Then Perfect and Flair goes absolutely apeshit on Savage’s leg. Good god, that was about as emphatic a beatdown as I’ve ever seen in two minutes. Warrior makes the save and chases the bad guys back to the dressing room. Post match sees the good guys make nice with each other. Great match, the lack of a finish and the whole third-party stuff brings it down but I will say this was as good a match as their first encounter.
(Warrior def. Savage, countout, ****1/2. For what its worth, Savage lost the title a week later to Flair. The big blowoff was supposed to be Savage/Warrior vs. Flair/Perfect at Survivor Series but somehow Razor Ramon got involved, Warrior flipped out and everything changed or something like that. But as a one-time affair this was great.)
Match: I am probably in the minority here but I think the Summerslam match is better and had it had a finish it would have been very close to perfect. As a match goes it’s ****3/4 or maybe ***** but I subtracted for the closing (which probably had to be done to keep with continuity whether I liked it or not). The Wrestlemania match is very good but once Savage didn’t win with the five elbow drops it wasn’t going to happen. They tried to trick us by having Savage kick out of the press slam but still Savage’s percentage of winning that match after Warrior kicked out of the quintuple elbow drop was less than 5%: Clear Edge: Summerslam
Storyline: Both storylines were great. In the Wrestlemania match Warrior was out for revenge and wanted to take the one thing that meant the most to Savage – his career. Savage tweaking the Warrior and baiting him into the match was great stuff too, as was the shock value of causing Warrior to lose to Sgt. Slaughter at Royal Rumble 1991. The Summerslam storyline was part of a triangle with Flair and the “Fair to Flair” stuff was also well done and well executed as it led to an eventual title change. Edge: Wrestlemania
Intangibles: Obviously it’s hard to beat the reconciliation with Elizabeth so it’s not worth discussing. I will say the Summerslam crowd of 80,000 Britons would win out any other time. Major Edge: Wrestlemania.
Decision: Man this is a toughie. I’m going to go with the Wrestlemania match barely and mainly because the surrounding issues, the storyline and the post-match drama edge out the higher quality Summerslam match.