Hiya, gang. Normally I do magazine recaps here, and lately I’ve been working up to the time of Wrestlemania III, one of my favorite historical wrestling events. Today I want to do something special. I’m going to share with you select reviews from Scott Keith, along with select comments from you guys, all related to the buildup to Wrestlemania III and the event itself. So let’s get busy!
From Scott Keith’s rants for WWF Wrestling Challenge/Superstars – 01.17.87
Piper’s Pit with Special Guest Hulk Hogan!
Senile old Jack Tunney joins us to present a big trophy for Hogan’s third anniversary as WWF champion. So Hogan does his promo, but then Andre ominously comes out and smiles at him, quips “Three years to be a champion is a long time,” and then shakes Hulk’s hand extra hard. Hulk seems confused by this reaction. HOW SIMPLE DID IT USED TO BE? That took maybe 2 minutes, made a very subtle but effective point, and planted the seeds for something mammoth.
Update! With Scheme Gene!
Let us take you back to Macho Man dropping a ringbell on Dragon’s throat. Steamboat gasping for breath and flinging himself off the stretcher in melodramatic pain is an underrated touch of greatness there. And then Bruno is backstage, shocked by the science of intubation. And then Gene chats with the doctor, who thinks that Steamboat was NEAR DEATH at one point, and Steamboat’s career is OVER. Oh man, he’s gonna have to go back to North Carolina and open a gym or something. But then we go to Steamboat’s home, and he can talk again, and cuts a promo on Savage where he coughs at the end to make sure we know he was injured.
bignasty96: Andre/Hogan and Steamboat/Savage are two of the best built feuds of all time, one a short new one, the other working in all the “history” of WWF, hitting their peak at the same time leading to the biggest show of all time. Imagine if it was today. Who wouldn’t pay for Peacock to see it???
Flash Man: The slow burn leading up to the Andre turn was brilliant. Today Hogan and Andre would main event Fastlane before Hogan face Danny Spivey in a “dream match” at WM
MyronB: The hints at the heel turn were so subtle that you don’t pick up on them unless you were paying close attention. Every time Andre was asked about the hearing that led to his return and Bobby Heenan’s role he usually changes the subject or shuts down that line of questioning some other way. Plus Bobby Heenan all of the sudden was a lot more friendly towards Andre in commentary.
Whalebones: Savage and Steamboat was such a hot angle in part because it was the kind of injury where you could buy it as career ending, and to do it to a pure white meat babyface like Steamboat just made it en fuego.
Daywave Newman: Remember when title changes were so infrequent that you could bitch about the last one for so long and remember it?
Big Easy: As a kid you could run through every title lineage. We were lucky if there was 3 title changes a year in the WWF, and even more so when one would happen on free tv.
From Scott Keith’s rants for WWF Wrestling Challenge/Superstars – 01.24.87
Piper’s Pit with Special Guest Andre the Giant!
Jack Tunney presents Andre with a trophy for fifteen undefeated years in the WWF. So Piper puts him over and asks for some thoughts from Andre, but then Hulk Hogan bursts in and steals his thunder, cutting off his promo and not letting him talk. What a DICK. So Hogan talks about what an inspiration that Andre was to HIM, and Andre leaves the trophy and walks off while Hulk is still talking. HULK HOGAN WAS THE WORST FRIEND.
Boomska: Andre’s poker face through this entire saga really helped sell the heel turn. Before this he always smiled at the fans.
PremiumLiveJman: Andre said he had something to say. Before he could say it, out comes Hogan to hog the spotlight because God forbid someone else get some shine for longer than two minutes. Andre had every right turning on him and Bobby was right in his post-Pit rant.
Onasitta: The kayfabe argument: Hogan is out there fighting for his life nightly. It’s high stakes, professional competition. Not daycare. He can’t be responsible for reading Andre’s mind and tending to his fragile, bruised ego. And speaking of whom, Andre had been gone for months, while Hogan is whoopin ass battling all kinds of psycho monsters. Of course Hogan deserves the awards and prestige afforded a champ. Like Hogan said, if Andre wanted a shot he could have asked like a man and as a friendly competitor, not join Hogan’s arch nemesis and attempt to destroy him.
From Scott Keith’s rants for WWF Wrestling Challenge/Superstars – 01.31.87
Piper’s Pit with Special Guest Jesse Ventura!
Piper has the trophies that are causing the trouble, and you can see that Hogan’s trophy is a good 6 inches taller than Andre’s. So Jesse, and I know this is a shock, is spreading conspiracy theories about Andre the Giant, and now he’s done some investigations and he found out exactly why Andre got reinstated and why Bobby was at the hearing and Andre himself wasn’t. But he’s not talking. Moving on, Jesse points out that Hogan’s trophy is real gold and Andre’s is “rotten old lead”, and Hogan’s been ducking people as champion. So Jesse and Piper are ready to throw down in the ring, but Jesse suggests that instead they bring out Andre and Hogan next week and let them discuss things at that point.
JWBraun: WWF Magazine, which covered Hogan similarly to how Fox News covers Donald Trump, reported that “Andre’s trophy appeared to some observers to be slightly taller than Hogan’s.”
Bobby Heenan: I’ve seen people play a year of little league and get a bigger trophy than what Andre got.
From Scott Keith’s rants for WWF Wrestling Challenge/Superstars – 02.8.87
Update! With Craig DeGeorge!
Craig DeGeorge is with Jack Tunney, who has a big announcement to make. He says that the Silverdome in Pontiac, MI has been chosen to host WrestleMania as they both talk about how the venue holds 90,000 people. Tunney promises that it will be the biggest event in wrestling history.
British Bulldogs (c) v. Hart Foundation
Dynamite doesn’t even make it to the ring before Jimmy Hart knocks him out with the megaphone, leaving Davey Boy to fight off the Harts by himself. Delayed suplex on Bret and he tosses Neidhart while Danny Davis looks after Dynamite outside. Davey is fine, though, whipping the Harts into each other, as Jesse points out. Davey puts Bret on the floor with a dropkick and powerslams Anvil, but Danny Davis tends to Dynamite as Vince has an ANEURISM on commentary. WHERE IS DANNY DAVIS?!? So the Harts double-team Davey now and put the boots to him before hitting a double DDT and finishing with the Hart Attack at 3:01 to win the tag team titles. Vince’s “NO! NO! NO!” in perfect time with Davis’s count is the BEST. Vince notes that this is the biggest disgrace in the history of World Wrestling Federation officiating!
Piper’s Pit with Special Guests Hulk Hogan & Andre the Giant!
Now it’s time for the FIREWORKS FACTORY. So Roddy Piper brings out Hulk Hogan, and Jesse Ventura produces Andre the Giant…and Bobby Heenan? Well now we know why he was at the reinstatement hearing. Hulk is shocked, as everyone was, and demands to know what’s going on, brother? Hulk begs for some sanity and desperately cries about how Andre taught him about respect for the fans and good sportsmanship. Well Andre did a s*** job of teaching him that then. So Bobby goes on the rant from last week, accusing Hogan of being JEALOUS and stealing Andre’s spotlight. Hogan: “You’re WRONG! YOU’RE WRONG!” Good comeback, Hulk. But then Hulk makes the mistake of putting his hands on Andre and Andre just GLARES at him and tells him to take his hands off him, and then challenges him to a title match at Wrestlemania and tears off the shirt, ripping off Hogan’s cross and cutting his chest in the process. And then Piper does a great understated sell of the moment, telling Hulk that he’s bleeding and trying to lead him away. BOOM, we have a main event!
Hardaway1: And if you didn’t want to call you local cable company to order Wrestlemania, what are YOU even doing on this blog?
PeteF3: What I don’t get is how this PPV sold when not a single time did Andre say anything about “having a WrestleMania moment.”
The Ghost of Faffner Hall: I wasn’t even sure what the hell he wanted without having a sign to point to.
Fightin’ Jake Fletcher: Some reasons why Andre’s heel turn is the greatest ever: Andre being literally the only guy they could use to top any of the previous Hogan vs Monster programs. Andre’s performance – if he doesn’t have the cold, hard stare down as well as he did, it wouldn’t work nearly as well. Hogan’s performance- you really believed he didn’t want to fight Andre, not because he was scared of him, but because it broke his heart, Piper’s performance – “You’re bleeding.” Ventura’s performance – the fact that he knew about it and kept it a secret until Hogan would show up on Piper’s Pit is such a nice bit of heel behavior.
From Scott Keith’s rants for WWF Wrestling Challenge/Superstars – 02.15.87
Piper’s Pit with Special Guest Hulk Hogan
Roddy is confused about the whole Hogan-Andre situation, so he recaps the whole deal for us, and out comes Hulk Hogan. He’s still shaken up from last week, so Piper confronts him and wants to know WHAT’S GOING ON WITH ANDRE. Weren’t they best friends? Yes they were! They used to fight for the same things, against the forces of greed and jealously. (OH THE IRONY!) WHY DIDN’T YOU JUST TAKE A STAKE AND DRIVE IT IN MY HEART, ANDRE? Piper has had enough of the feels and just wants to know, YES OR NO? And of course, Hulk bellows YEEEEEEEEEEESSSSSS!
The Snake Pit with Special Guest The Honky Tonk Man
Jake Roberts thinks Honky is a pretty stupid name. Honky claims to have been “born on a pool table in Memphis” and offers to sing his song “That’s All Right Honky Tonk Mama”. Elvis stole it from him, you see. Honky gets some amazing heat just standing there with that gimmick. Jake has finally enough and chases them off with the snake, but Honky loops around behind the set and DESTROYS Jake with the guitar to set up their feud.
Danny Davis is going to referee a Tito Santana match, but Jack Tunney chases him down to ringside and delivers another famous line from 1987, “Referee Danny Davis is suspended for life!” See, now that’s how an authority figure needs to operate. Swoop in, make the big call, then **** off. As I’ve noted before, Davis had nuclear heat and could have been a solid midcard heel for years but just didn’t have anything to back it up in the ring.
Bignasty96: The Andre/Hulk setup to WrestleMania should be shown to all WWE writers. The 4 Piper’s Pit segments take maybe 15 minutes total, Andre says about 3 sentences, and they sold 90k tickets in 2 months.
Ray Rosini Jr: Watch the guy in the baseball hat lose his shit after Hulk yells and his arms are going up. The guy is so damn happy and animated.
JWBraun: With regard to Honky’s guitar, a high quality guitar was purchased for the angle and though it was pre-cut so that it would break more easily over Roberts’ head, there was an additional support rod in the guitar that was not removed, which made the shot all the more stiff. From then on Honky used cheaper guitars that did not include the rod.
From Scott Keith’s rant for Saturday Night’s Main Event # 10 – 03.14.87
Hogan’s pre-show promo is epic stuff. “YOU BROKE THE RULES. NOW THERE ARE NO RULES!” Also Andre is 7’5” and 500 pounds. Andre’s pre-match promo is nicely succinct: “Hogan, I want YOU.”
20 Man Battle Royal
Vince’s overwrought speech during Andre’s entrance is quite the plate of cheese: “When you look back to the past, these two men, Andre and Hogan, they were like brothers! Each helping the other out along their way, ensuring they were both seeing things the right way. I can remember when Hulk Hogan was attempting to become champion of the world, and there was Andre the Giant right there at his side all the way. I can remember Hulk talking about how he chose Andre as his role model in his quest for the title. How Andre would conduct himself in the company of children, his kindness to them, how he would show his sense of fair play, in as well as out of the ring, and his enormous pride in himself and for mankind. But I’ll tell you, boy has Andre taken a detour. And don’t just blame Andre’s conduct on Bobby ‘the Brain” Heenan because down deep, Andre had to harbor resentment. He had to harbor jealousy. And whatever dark secrets Andre holds in his heart, not just Hulk, but I think I can speak for every fan in the world: we’ve all been thrown to the mat by Andre’s recent actions.” And then Jesse just laughs it off. “It’s just business, McMahon”.
Everyone goes after Hogan, but Hulk throws out Honky at 0:41 while Andre tosses Sika at 1:01. I’m betting on Lanny Poffo! People go after Andre, but he tosses out future tag team championship partner Haku like garbage at 1:41. And then he smashes Poffo’s head open with a headbutt and throws him out at 1:51 for good measure. Well there’s $100 I’ll never see again. Andre manhandling Mulligan and Hillbilly is great stuff, as he grabs the two biggest guys and beats the **** out of them. Poffo goes out on a stretcher with a PRIMO blade job, like a true artist. Ron Bass gets dumped by Hulk at 3:34 to continue that storyline, and Andre hiptosses Mulligan out at 3:53. Hogan backdrops Volkoff out at 4:22, so Andre throws out Brian Blair at 4:30 as they play “Can you top this?” Orndorff and Hercules double-team Hogan on behalf of the Heenan Family, but can’t throw him out. Andre meanwhile just keeps wrecking dudes until Hogan goes after him. Koko stupidly tries to get involved and Andre shoves him down like a gnat. Hogan takes a moment to get revenge on Orndorff at 6:10, but turns his back on Andre and gets thrown out at 6:20, as Andre gives them the ol’ “Bye Felicia” treatment and brushes him off like he’s nothing. Hogan of course whines and cries about his totally clean and legal elimination as we take a break. Back with Andre’s bloodlust satiatied, but he throws out Brunzell anyway at 7:48 and then everyone left wisely gangs up on him and he’s out at 8:10. Eh, he made his point. Then it’s EVERYONE OVERBOARD as they start diving out rapid-fire, including Tama and Hillbilly in quick succession, then Reed at 9:14. Koko makes a lame comeback on Herc, but he’s over and out at 10:15. So Billy Jack is alone with 2 heels and he manages to clothesline Smash out at 11:05, but goes after the Brain like a moron and gets thrown out at 11:22 to give Hercules the win. Hell of a battle royal, actually, with the great storyline between Hogan and Andre as they tease it coming down to them and then pull the rug out from everyone with Hulk’s shocking elimination.
Bobby goes off on a rant about how “we” won the match, and while it took 8 guys to put Andre out, it took only one Giant to eliminate Hogan.
Hogan is now convinced that Andre cheated EVERY TIME he got his hand raised in the past and declares him “the undefeated obesity.” Well that’s a bit revisionist.
Baba Booey: This is my absolute favorite SNME. The Hogan/Andre feud was incredible and this show pumped 12 year old me up even more for WM3.
Fightin’ Jake Fletcher: Vince’s soliloquy about Andre is his finest hour, pre-Mr. McMahon character.
JWBraun: McMahon’s soliloquy as Andre walks down to the ring is a work of art and only possible because Andre had no theme music. In the end, it achieves more than any theme music ever could.
Robertd0803: Andre should have won the battle royal.
Scott Keith’s rant for Wrestlemania III – 03.29.87
Live from the Pontiac Silverdome, drawing an amount of people greater than zero and less than 100,000, and a buyrate that doesn’t really matter because PPV wasn’t really a thing in a significant portion of homes yet. But it scored a significant percentage of homes that COULD get PPV, with some reports at the time listing up to 10% of the available homes ordering it. It really can’t be overstated how much of a big deal this was, as local news stations showed highlights and recapped the results at the time.
Your hosts are Gorilla Monsoon & Jesse Ventura
Vince McMahon is of course in his glory introducing the show in the middle of the ring and throwing it to Aretha Franklin, as wrestling hits the peak in the 80s.
Slamdawg: I really wish Peacock/Network would offer the Coliseum Video versions as an option, with Mean Gene opening the tape by standing in the empty arena as they assemble the ring and talking in hushed whispers about how we are less than 24 hours from the biggest spectacle in wrestling history, and then we cut to a montage of fans in the parking lot and waiting in line to enter the arena.
The Can-Am Connection v. Magnificent Muraco & Bob Orton
These poor guys don’t even get an entrance while opening the biggest show in history, magically showing up in the ring while Gorilla and Jesse talk with Bob Uecker and Mary Hart. Interesting how Piper-Adonis were having their final blowoff later in the show, but Orton and Muraco, the primary instigators in the feud, have now been completely split off from it and are just doing their own thing. Martel grabs a headlock on Muraco, but Don beats on him with knees in the corner so Martel takes him down with a monkey flip for two. Looked like he was trying something else there and they got signals crossed. Can-Ams double-team both guys with double monkey-flips and the heels retreat for some advice from Fuji. That advice? “Hawaii and Japan are basically the same thing”. No wonder Muraco broke away soon after. Martel and Orton trade full nelson attempts, and Muraco comes in and accidentally hits Orton to give Martel a two count. Orton tries to escape a wristlock and lunges for the tag, but Zenk yanks him down and keeps control in a nice little spot. Over to Muraco, which allows Orton to get the Bret Hart knee on the apron and turn the tide. Orton comes in with a forearm off the middle rope for two and we get a double down to setup the hot tag to Martel. Double dropkicks abound and Martel gets a cross-body on Muraco while Zenk trips him up, and that gets the pin at 5:38. A perfectly cromulent opener. **1/4 This was supposed to lead to the Can-Ams getting the tag titles from the Hart Foundation later in the year, but then stuff happened. Also I was going to make fun of Gorilla mixing up the Can-Ams at various points but then I went and did it too so I’ll just shut up.
PATRICKisLEGEND: The production difference in WM3 vs WM2 is probably the biggest gap of it’s kind.
Mark95: Can-Ams were pretty over here and warmed up the crowd nicely for the rest of the show.
JWBraun: Zenk & Martel had something special brewing at this time. Too bad Zenk didn’t have his head on straight.
Goodoldboz: Gorilla calls them “The K and M Connection” because of course he does.
Rick Martel: Vince really loved the idea of the Can-Am—the look, the whole thing—and we tried to straighten things out with Tom, but he wouldn’t work with us.
Billy Jack Haynes v. Hercules
Billy Jack is someone who I am constantly shocked remains alive while everyone else around him who did far less drugs dropped dead. Also Hercules does a promo where he literally believes himself to be a Greek god who did the labors of legend, so he was probably on some stuff as well. They did a pretty admirable job of taking a complete nothing match between these two muscleheads and making it into an issue we could care about, I’ll give ‘em that. They fight for the lockup and Haynes won’t give a clean break in the corner, probably because he was waiting for the voices in his head to give the OK, but then he hits Herc with chops and a press slam. Herc escapes the full nelson and hides in the ropes, so Billy slugs away in the corner and Herc catches him with a clothesline to block a blind charge. Herc whips him into the corner to take over and works on the back for a bit as they seem to be out of ideas already, and Herc gets a suplex for two but picks him up. Billy tries a suplex and his back gives out, so Herc pounds him down again and follows with a backbreaker for two while Gorilla and Jesse have a funny conversation about how Gorilla NEVER EVER picked anyone up at two. “You know, lightning can strike even here in the Dome, Gorilla.” Hercules goes for the full nelson and Billy fights him off but still goes down for a bit before making the comeback. They clothesline each other for the double down and Haynes makes the comeback and goes crazy like Hercules is the government spying on his trailer, dropping the leg and going up with a fistdrop. This sets up the full nelson, but Hercules makes the ropes and they tumble to the floor for a double countout at 7:51. See, this was a weird booking decision because Haynes was never a stable guy to begin with and had one foot out the door, whereas Herc was about to be programmed with Hulk and was a featured player for years to come, so you’d think Herc would have gone over here in hindsight. ** Afterwards, Herc nails him with the chain and busts him open, which ends up as the only blood on the show, oddly enough.
Steve Terranova: Whatever they did hyping this match between those two guys worked because the kids in my 4th-grade class were doing full-nelson challenges at recess every day for weeks.
Dr. Stoppage: I suspect the finish of the Herc/Billy Jack match was because Haynes was a bit too “unstable” and probably flipped out when it was suggested that he do the job.
Billy Jack Haynes: I was supposed to actually wrestle Randy Savage at Wrestlemania III, but Ricky Steamboat went crying to Vince McMahon about how he was there longer than me. Randy and I were both mad about that. So I wrestled Hercules, and they asked me to bleed for that match. That was after the AIDS thing came out with Rock Hudson and no one wanted to bleed anymore. So I asked, “Why am I the only one that has to bleed?” But they told me to do it so I did it, though it wasn’t easy. When the time came, I didn’t want to get the razor blade out because the camera was on me, so I got hardway juice. Then I opened myself up a little bit more with the razor, but the horrible cameraman was still on me and everyone saw it. It’s not like I can watch the cameras and blade at the same time, you know?
Meanwhile, King Kong Bundy threatens to squash any midgets who get in his way. Well he did warn them.
King Kong Bundy, Little Tokyo & Lord Littlebrook v. Hillbilly Jim, Little Beaver & The Haiti Kid
We get a tiny criss-cross and the rowboat spot to start while Bob Uecker joins us on commentary and relates a story about dating a girl with Little Beaver’s haircut 25 years ago. Littlebrook comes in and works on Beaver for a bit while Jesse is hoping for “Bundy to put the big kibosh on one of the little guys”. So Bundy comes in and we get some Godzilla teases before Jim comes in as per the rules, and they slug it out to set up an elbow from Jim for two. Bundy puts Jim down with an elbow of his own and gets a facelock, but Little Beaver continues being a nuisance and smacks Bundy’s ***, at which point Bundy has had ENOUGH of this guy and drops an elbow on him for the DQ at 4:20. Hey, live by the sword, die by the sword. I feel no sympathy for him.
DUDGrantster: With all of the marquee matches on the card, and it was an awesome card, whenever me and my wrestling friends talk, it will inevitably be about King Kong Bundy squashing Little Beaver and Hillbilly Jim carrying Beaver around like he was dead.
Hillbilly Jim: Wrestlemania III was big for me because of what it was, but I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. Bundy was very stiff. I’d say, “Chris, you’re killing me!” He was such a big locomotive anyway. But it was all good.
Alice Cooper: I’ll never forget being backstage and seeing the mohawk-sporting midget cursing out the big bald guy. It was so surreal, I was like, “Where am I?”
Meanwhile, Mary Hart chats with Elizabeth, at which point Macho Man storms in and takes over the interview because he’s fascinating. “The phone number is on the back of my license plate, YEAH!”
Meanwhile, Harley Race and his entourage are ready to be crowned King again at the end of the match.
Junkyard Dog v. King Harley Race
Loser has to bow and kneel here, which is another nice way to give some stakes to a match with none otherwise. Dog slugs it out but gets dumped by Race, who follows with a headbutt off the apron and misses. Why are you taking these bumps, Harley? Dog hauls him back in and Race bumps over the top rope to the floor again, trying desperately to get something decent out of the dog by himself. Dog slams him back in and gets an abdominal stretch and TAKE A DRINK for Gorilla bitching about how badly Dog applies it. Race escapes and gets a headbutt, but science says that Dog wins that battle and Race knocks himself silly and bails to the floor. Back in, Dog gets headbutts of his own, but Brain distracts him and Race finishes this dogshit match with a belly to belly at 3:22. Man, Race was trying SO hard here but Dog had no interest in doing anything. ½* And so, after losing cleanly to the better man, Dog has to bow and kneel, so he does a half-assed curtsy and then attacks Race like a complete sore loser and steals the robe. That’s some Hulk Hogan level BS there.
JWBraun: Harley did what he could given the thankless task of wrestling the Dog. At least the right guy won.
Mizzle: An ok match, primarily because King Harley Race is an incredible bumper and feeds into what JYD’s capable of with marvelous ability at all times.
Tony Schiavone: In other parts of the world, Harley and Junk Yard Dog would have worked on top. They were beyond huge stars, the Dog included. Here, they were match number four.
Meanwhile, Vince McMahon interviews Hulk Hogan in the dressing room, and Hulk is pretty worked up about this Andre deal, calling Hulkamania “the purest form of the truth there is” which is pretty rich coming from him.
The Rougeau Brothers v. The Dream Team
Rougeaus double-team Hammer and TAKE A DRINK for Gorilla putting over Hammer’s inability to get going until late in the match. Jacques misses a bodypress out of the corner and Valentine drops elbows on him to take over. He gets the figure-four while Bobby joins us on commentary, claiming to be “2 for 2” because Hercules got the moral victory and Race beat Dog. And he doesn’t associate with midgets so that one doesn’t count. Hammer tries a piledriver on Jacques, but he backdrops out and makes the hot tag Raymond, who gets a sleeper. Beefcake breaks it up, but hits Hammer by mistake, and the Rougeaus hit the Rougeau Bomb on Hammer while the ref is tied up. This allows Dino Bravo to come in and hit Raymond, putting Hammer on top for the pin at 4:11. I’m shocked he didn’t miss. Match was nothing. * And then Hammer and Bravo abandon Beefcake in the ring, kicking him out of the team. I bet that was Bravo’s idea, which shows why you don’t listen to Dino Bravo.
Mr. P: The Rougeaus probably should have won since The Dream Team was breaking up anyways.
Jacques Rougeau: When you come to a new area, it takes a while to get established. The problem was that we were coming in from Quebec and were French, so we were like 75% babyface, 25% heel. So we were caught inbetween.
Haircut match: Rowdy Roddy Piper v. Adrian Adonis
So in one of those details I never really noticed before, Adonis is the one who introduced the hedge clippers that became Beefcake’s trademark. Also, interesting to note that in the Coliseum video version, they edit an interview with Piper in during his entrance, whereas there’s none here in the original PPV version. Piper charges in for the slugfest to start and Piper whips him with the belt right away and then chokes out Jimmy Hart to a giant pop, but Adonis gets the belt and lays into him. Piper whips him into the corner for a Flair Flip and hauls him back in, bringing Jimmy with him, and rams them together as the crowd is just going crazy for everything. Man I would have killed to be in the building for this one. Adonis bumps over the top and Piper hauls him back in and slugs away on him, and then throws Jimmy at him for good measure, but finally Jimmy trips him up to get some revenge. This allows Adonis to take over with back rakes and a clothesline, but Piper pokes him in the eye and they head to the floor. Jimmy gets a cheapshot with the clippers, but Piper is like COME AT ME back in the ring. So Jimmy Hart sprays him with the perfume and it’s GOOD NIGHT IRENE in the middle for Adonis. Piper tries to break free, but Adonis is too much…and then he lets go too soon and celebrates early. This allows Brutus Beefcake to come from under the ring, revive Piper, and Adonis gets an underrated great bump by swinging with the clippers and knocking himself out with them. And Piper finishes him off with the sleeper at 6:55 to finally win the war. And then a month after having his hair cut by Adonis by mistake, Beefcake also gets his revenge, shaving Adonis and kicking off the biggest push of his career as the Barber. This match put in the work, as they say and remains one of my all time sentimental favorites. ** for the action and ***** for entertainment value, as I’ve said before and still say today. And then Piper faded into retirement obscurity as promised and was never seen in wrestling again. Too bad, he probably could have been Intercontinental champion someday if he had stuck with it. In a bit that I’m sure was cut from Coliseum video, some kind runs into the ring and tries to celebrate with Piper before security jumps him and hauls him out. Man he was lucky Piper didn’t waffle him there.
TheSycKid: Great moment as Piper comes out and takes in the crowd with a huge smile. Big pop when he hits the ring.
Sophia Petrillo: Piper/Adonis is an easy five stars for me. I watch wrestling to be entertained and that match delivered in spades.
Jabroniville: It’s still weird that Adonis got the visual fall but messed up. Made it look like he would have won, but is also a moron. But holy cow, the heat… And best if all, they used the match where both guys were soon gone and made a star out of BEEFCAKE, who was sticking around. Fantastic booking.
Steve Austrian: If I didn’t learn otherwise from Scott’s review, I’d think that boy who runs in the ring is one of Piper’s kids. He has similar hair. I guess Piper didn’t knock the fan out of there because he was so happy from the crowd reaction and in too much of a good mood to care.
LScisco: Piper handled that fan well. Just shook his hand and patted him on the head before the cops whisked him away. I always thought that dude was a loser, though. You get thrown out of the show before Steamboat-Savage and Hogan-Andre!
The British Bulldogs & Tito Santana v. The Hart Foundation & Danny Davis
Jesse Ventura gets introduced to the crowd for some posing here and there’s never any explanation why and no payoff to it. Danny Davis has NUCLEAR heat here, of course, as everyone is desperately waiting for the babyfaces to kick his ***. Tito immediately attacks the Harts on the floor before the bell and the Bulldogs toss Davis onto them, while Jesse takes the dog back to the dressing room. Tito blocks a headscissors from Bret in the corner and Davey comes in and rams the Harts together before the Bulldogs go to work on Anvil in the corner. Tito gets trapped in the heel corner and they choke him out, but he runs away from Anvil and Davey is back again with a backdrop. Neidhart begs off and then clobbers him from behind, and Bret comes in with an elbow that misses. Over to Dynamite for the hair pull drop on Bret and Bret takes the turnbuckle bump as well, but comes back with forearms in the corner to take over. Kid tries a suplex and Neidhart hits him in the bad back to block it and then comes in with a chinlock. Harts with a Demolition elbow on Kid and it’s DANNY DAVIS time, as he comes in, gets a stomp with a **** eating grin on his face, and then tags out again. Awesome. Anvil beats the Kid down with clubbing forearms and Davis comes in again, struts his stuff, hits a stomp, and then leaves again. So the Harts slingshot him in for a splash, but that misses and now he’s fucked. Hot tag Tito and he DESTROYS Davis and backdrops him to set up the flying forearm before just beating the **** out of him. And then tries the figure-four, but Anvil breaks it up, so it’s over to Davey, who ups the violence with a clothesline while Davis bumps like a ragdoll in hilarious manner. Tombstone and Davis is DEAD, but Davey picks him up for a delayed suplex for more punishment and follows with the powerslam on Danny’s lifeless body. That gets two, but the Harts break it up, Davis gets the megaphone, and he knocks out Davey for the pin at 8:48. This was tremendous and exactly what it should have been. ***1/2
jabroniville: The heat Adonis and Davis get on this show is ungodly, top-tier stuff. Some of the biggest boos of all time. The crowd didn’t want them beaten- it wanted them DEAD. Just tremendous.
3GP: The pop from the crowd when the Bulldogs press slam Davis to the floor had to be at least the 2nd biggest pop from the crowd of the night
Steve Austrian: I really liked Mary Hart’s commentary during the match. She sounds like someone who is not too knowledgeable about wrestling, but enthusiastic about it and eager to learn. She tries to identify moves (sounding proud of herself when she’s correct) and gets into the story and action.
TPrincess: Davey Boy’s tombstone on Danny Davis might’ve been the greatest execution of that move. I had only seen Don Muraco’s version of the tombstone to that point and he simply dropped to his knees. Davey Boy did a jump and Davis’ very well could’ve been dead.
JWBraun: Crowd loved this, and I could have sworn I saw the Hitman with a tear in his eye.
Bret Hart: People have never stopped asking me what it was like to perform in front of 93,000. The truth is, I really don’t know. At the start of the match The Bulldogs bumped me and Jim out of the ring and then picked up a terrified Danny Davis, hoisted him over their heads and threw him over the top rope. While I was trying to break his fall, Danny poked me in the right eye. After that, what should have been one of my greatest memories was nothing but a blur.
Meanwhile, Mean Gene chats with Andre the Giant, and Bobby is now changed into his fancy waiter’s jacket for the main event.
Butch Reed v. Koko B. Ware
This is the very definition of a cooldown match after that six-man. Surprisingly Koko’s music is hardly muted and you can easily hear that it’s “The Bird” by Morris Day and The Time. That’s still a smoking tune and the Time were tragically underrated. Usually they mute it AND overdub terrible generic stuff on top of it. They fight for the lockup to start while Jesse and Gorilla debate Koko’s glove vs. Reed’s wrist tape in a weird discussion. Koko flips away from Reed and dropkicks him to the floor, then hits him in the gut with his suspicious glove. I guess Jesse was right! But then Reed gets a cheapshot to take over and stomps away on him, but Koko comes back with a hiptoss and slugs away. Dropkick gets two. Small package gets two. Crossbody is rolled through, however, and Reed grabs the tights for the pin at 3:40. This was a lot of nothing. * Of note here: Referee John Binella later gained some fame by getting arrested for hiring a hitman to murder his wife. Unsuccessfully I might add. And then Tito pops out from under the ring and beats the **** out of Slick and tears his clothes up, continuing his feud with Reed, probably sore about losing to a referee in the last match.
ScottoWilliams: Listening to “The Bird” now. Helluva jam.
Koko B. Ware: I was so grateful being there. 93,000 beautiful fans. Goosebumps! If only I could’ve gotten a better payday out of it. I still love the business; I still love WWE and all that stuff. Nothing bad I’m going to say about them at all. But you take $20,000 and you split it two ways, giving Butch Reed 10 and me 10, that’s not a lot for a show like that, and it’s not like we were going to have another shot at the same gate. But I couldn’t fuss about it.
Intercontinental title: Randy Savage v. Ricky Steamboat
And now for another defining moment of my childhood. Savage gets a surprising babyface pop for his entrance, which even the announcers comment on. Savage immediately goes to put Elizabeth in a corner far away from Steele outside, and Dragon catches him with armdrags and the double choke back in the ring. Savage bails to think about it and nails Dragon on the way back in before choking him out on the ropes and snapping the neck on the top rope for two. Dragon works the arm in response and snaps the arm on the top rope before working a wristlock, but Savage puts him down with an elbow and tosses him over the top rope. Macho hauls him back in and goes after the throat in a wise bit of evil and then puts him down with an elbow for two. Kneedrop gets two. Steamboat fires back with chops in the corner and Savage gets tied in the ropes as a result, but escapes from it, so Steamboat gets an armdrag and then puts him down with shoulderblocks for a pair of near-falls. Savage finally hits a knee to the back and tosses him, but Dragon peels the dermis from the feline, and then Savage tosses him again and Steamboat bumps into the railing. Steele helps him back in, so Savage throws him out AGAIN, even harder this time, and then drops the axehandle on him while Jesse suggests draping Steamboat’s throat on the railing and breaking his larynx again. Or larnyx as Gorilla says. Back in, Savage with an elbow for two and he necks Steamboat on the top rope for two. Atomic drop gets two as Gorilla has a ridiculous rant about how Savage could be disqualified for the necksnap. “Why?” Jesse asks. “Deliberate” notes Gorilla. Sure. OK then. Savage with a gut wrench for two. Steamboat fights back again and flips out of an atomic drop, then hits Savage with chops until Savage catches him with his head down. Savage charges and Steamboat backdrops him over the top for a Shawn Michaels level bump from Savage, and Dragon goes up with the flying chop for two. Wahoo chop gets two. Steamboat keeps throwing chops and Savage bails to the apron, so Steamboat chops him to the floor and then brings him in with a sunset flip for two. Rollup gets two. Jackknife cradle gets two. Small package gets two. He catapults Macho into the post and rolls him up for two. Savage finally takes a swing at Hebner in frustration, so Steamboat rolls him up for two and Savage reverses for two. Again, Savage is desperate and yanks Steamboat into the post to slow him down, but Steamboat comes back and the ref is bumped as a result. Savage gets the short clothesline and goes up to drop the big elbow, but there’s no ref and Savage gets a taste of his own medicine for once. So he goes for the ringbell for one last gasp, but Animal steals it away from him and shoves him off the top rope as the ref revives. So Savage is really loopy and tries to slam Steamboat, who finally just reverses the flustered Savage to an inside cradle for the pin and the title at 14:30 to get his revenge. And then we get a tremendous bit of camerawork, as we watch Savage in despair on the cart, driving away into the dark after losing his precious title. Still a flawless classic and one of the greatest WM matches of all time. ***** I especially love the story from Steamboat about how Savage planned out the entire match and would make him call out each numbered spot on the plane rides between towns, as they’d practice little pieces of it at house shows before putting it all together here.
Nathan Lehman: Between the interview with Mary Hart and the pop that Savage got in his entrance, you knew the gears were turning in Vince’s head about turning Savage face at some point within the year, especially with Piper leaving.
thejob111: Savage’s 30 second promo before his match hit every single mark for a wrestling promo. He puts over himself, then puts over Steamboat at how surprised he was that he came back, then threatens him for the upcoming match that he will put him out for good. Then closes with “HISTORY BECKONS THE MACHO MAN!” And he does it with all of the flair and charisma you would expect from a Macho promo. If this was the first time you had ever watched WWF you would have instantly known the stakes of the match and how important it was in just that 30 seconds.
3GP: One reason why Savage was so great, & Scott didn’t mention it, was when Randy put a hand to the small of his back right before the pin as to signal his back hurt, and foreshadow the pin while explaining why he couldn’t kick out.
superjobber: I’m a broken record on this topic, but if Savage/Steamboat only needed 15 minutes, almost no one needs more.
Hillbilly Jim: That magical match Savage had with Steamboat at Wrestlemania III is still one of the best of all time.
Jake Roberts v. The Honky Tonk Man
Although WM3 is inarguably one of the best shows the WWF ever did, we are definitely at the point of the show where they didn’t need two more matches between the IC title and the main event, and probably should have purged one of them. Alice Cooper is in Jake’s corner here, which is kind of funny because he was something of a has been at this point and was actually about two years away from a surprising career revival as a hair metal artist with “Trash” and “Hey Stoopid”, which yes are two of my favorite albums ever, thanks for asking. Jake puts the beats on Honky outside as Honk desperately runs away as usual, and Jake slams him on the floor. Back in, Jake quickly gets the short clothesline and goes for the DDT, but Honky slips out, likely due to his hair being too greasy to grip. Jake chases him to the floor, but Honky runs him into the post and Jake bumps into the railing for a nice bump. Alice helps him to the apron, but Honky sends Jake back to the railing again and then back in for a fistdrop before slugging Roberts down. Honky gets a back elbow as this one continues meandering, but he goes for Shake Rattle N Roll and Jake escapes with a backdrop. Honky slugs away in the corner and Jake comes back with an atomic drop and backdrop as Honky bails to the apron. Jake goes for the DDT, but Jimmy Hart distracts him, and Honky gets a rollup and holds the ropes for the pin at 7:23. *
mdb: I can’t believe they jobbed Jake right when he freshly turned.
The DDG: Vince clearly thought (knew) he had something with Honky. Jake was way, way over after the face turn, so it was nothing short of shocking when he jobbed to HTM.
Alice Cooper: I remember telling Jake as we were riding that little ring on wheels down the aisle, “My audience isn’t as crazy as this.” It was just an amazing day. I still can’t get over how big and crazy that crowd was, and it was such an incredible time in wrestling overall.
Jake Roberts: When we came out in those carts, it took our breath away. I looked at Alice Cooper and he said, “Too much rush. I’m alone!” In his world, he’d come out on the stage, he’d have his band around him, had all his stuff ready to go, and he knew where he was going. Now he was in my world where he had to stand there on his own two feet with no guitar and no microphone.
Honky Tonk Man: I thought it was a good match. We had a great ending with the snake and Alice Cooper and Jimmy Hart.
Scheme Gene joins us in the ring to announce that there’s a non-zero number of total people in the building, which doesn’t exceed 100,000. Well that is good news!
Iron Sheik & Nikolai Volkoff v. The Killer Bees
Yeah it was definitely time to wrap things up and get to the main event at this point. So of course, Jim Duggan interrupts Nikolai Volkoff’s singing of the Russian anthem because it’s the land of the free! Oh great, cancel culture was a thing even in 1987, I see. The heels attack to start while Duggan hangs around at ringside, probably waiting for Sheik to wrap it up so he can catch a ride and go smoke dope with him. The Bees double-team Sheiky Baby and work the arm, but Volkoff comes in to break it up and Brunzell gets double-teamed by the no-good foreigners. Sheik with a back elbow for two and Volkoff goes to the bearhug. Sheik with a gut wrench for two and another suplex for two. Brunzell comes back with a high knee and we get a false tag to Blair as this drags on. But then Brunzell gets bumped to the floor and Duggan sends him back in for Sheik to apply the camel clutch, and Duggan breaks it up with the 2×4 to get the Bees DQ’d at 5:50. This should be a dark match or just left on the cutting room floor. ½*
mdb: Should have been Duggan hitting Volkoff to give the Bees the win.
Brian Blair: Wrestlemania III was the highlight of my career. I was way up in the press area before the matches, and I could barely see the ring guys setting up the ring. Then when Jimmy and I came out on that modified golf cart in front of nearly 100,000 people, I tell you, it was electricity in the air. I could see why somebody would want to even be outside the building to listen to the roar. It was something that I can’t even explain. Then we did the match, and Sheik was mad at me for stretching him one time in Hershey. Nikolai liked to tease him about it because he he knew the Sheik thought of himself as a shooter and thought of me as a “jabroni.” So Nikolai would say, “What’s the matter, Sheiky Baby? Is the Killer Bee stretching you?”
Scott Keith: The funny thing is that Sheik’s famous rant referenced the humbling of Brian Blair, but it was in fact BRUNZELL who he had in the camel clutch!
WWF title: Hulk Hogan v. Andre the Giant
Andre of course had a massive back brace here to keep himself mobile. Gorilla notes that “win lose of draw” it’s the last time for Hogan to be wearing that version of the WWF title, but in fact he was wearing it for another year after this. After the famous staredown Hulk goes for the slam, but Andre falls on top for two. Now, to be clear, listening on headphones you can distinctly hear idiot referee Joey Marella’s hand hitting the mat TWICE, but not the third time, so it was definitely a two count. Plus, of course, Marella could barely count to three as it was. Andre beats on Hogan’s back and easily slams him twice before casually stepping on the back. Andre whips him into the corner, barely able to walk or follow up, and he slowly goes to work and throws the headbutt while Hogan does his usual sell job. Hulk finally slips away and makes a brief comeback, slugging Andre into the corner for the 10 turnbuckle shots, but he charges like a moron and runs into Andre’s boot. And then it’s bearhug time for Andre as THAT goes on a while. But of course Hogan’s arm is up on the third drop, which is actually a trope that has gone away in the era of tapping out, and Hulk slugs out of the bearhug before walking into a chop. It’s interesting how smartly they structured the match, basically 10 minutes of Andre not having to do anything but stand there and chop. They fight to the floor and Andre headbutts the post. That poor post. Hulk pulls up the mats, apparently a fan of Bill Watts, but tries a piledriver and Andre backdrops him onto the “concrete”, which looks suspiciously like plywood. Man Andre just looks so pained and immobile. Back in, Andre misses a big boot and Hogan kind of clotheslines him down and then does his Hulking Up without Andre’s assistance. And then, the famous slam, and the legdrop to finish at 11:34. Man, it’s just so transparent how LITTLE Andre was able to do here, as the entire climax of the match was lacking involvement from Andre in any significant manner and this match was just NO GOOD. ½* Like what even was the storyline of the match? There were no significant twists or turns in it and it just ended with Hogan slamming him.
jabroniville: The mystique of the main event is unparalleled- it’s the two #1 guys on earth fighting. Austin/Rock is the only one since that’s come close.
Sophia Petrillo: I loved how Hogan sold Andre’s slam. He acted like his back was broken.
JWBraun: How can it get any bigger than the top two names in the history of wrestling going head to head? If you only know two things about pro wrestling, you know Andre the Giant and Hulk Hogan. It was true in 1987 and it’s still true today. The dream match of dream matches.
Baba Booey: I love how the show starts (4pm) with the Silverdome’s roof giving us the daytime look then by the Harts/ Bulldogs match, night sets in and the darkness for Hogan/Andre. Absolutely perfect day.
Flash Man: The way the gigantic crowd just looms over the show, how it progressively gets darker until Hulk and Andre. Its pro wrestling perfection.
LScisco: Nothing beats that wide shot of Hogan finally pulling off the slam as tons of camera bulb flashes go off in the dark background.
TheJob111: Something I also really appreciate about Hulk/Andre is that the aftermath was tremendous as well. They didn’t just move on from the match. It was discussed on WWF TV for months afterwards. Heenan/Ventura went in on this conspiracy that Andre had actually won the match earlier. When Andre returned at Survivor Series that hyped up it was the first time they were in the ring together. That all led up to the Main Event match which made the rematch gigantic.
Goodwill Commissioner Adam: 2 matches between 10 & 15 minutes long, every other match below 10 minutes. Yet this show had multiple great matches. This is why the reliance on long matches in modern wrestling annoys me. Yes you can have a 30 minute match, but you could also tell the story in 15 minutes and pout on a better shorter match at the same time.
Well despite selfish jerk Hogan stealing the spotlight from his supposed friend Andre yet again, this remains one of the best PPVs they ever put on, and a top 5 Wrestlemania without question, setting the standard for Wrestlemanias that followed for years afterwards.