Happy Saturday Everyone!
We’re going to review WrestleMania VII today because we’re nearing Mania in real life and I’ve always enjoyed this show. The Main Event is Sgt Slaughter defending the WWF Title against Hulk Hogan, in a feud that had a very tasteless build but at least delivered when they got in the ring. The other big match is Macho King Randy Savage facing The Ultimate Warrior with both respective wrestlers’ careers on the line.
If you’d like to view the card, you can do so below;
The event is emanating from Los Angeles, California on the 24th of March 1991. They were originally supposed to run in a bigger venue but tickets weren’t selling so well so they downgraded to a much smaller one and then blamed it on security reasons.
Calling the action is Gorilla Monsoon with Hacksaw Duggan, Bobby Heenan, Lord Alfred Hayes and Regis Philbin all popping in at various points. I actually quite like the revolving door of colour commentators as it keeps things fresh and gives Gorilla different people to bounce off depending on the match.
Willie Nelson sings about ‘Murica
Gorilla Monsoon welcomes Hacksaw Duggan to the commentary booth for our opening contest. Duggan is dressed as Uncle Sam, because I guess he thought coming dressed as the Statue of Liberty was too on the nose?
The Rockers cut a promo backstage with Sean Mooney in order to hype up their opening contest. They think their speed and teamwork will help them overcome their bigger opponents.
Haku and The Barbarian w/ Bobby The Brain Heenan Vs The Rockers (Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty)
Haku and Barbarian were both members of Heenan’s faction, so he’s pooled his resources to put them together as a dangerous tandem. The Rockers were pretty much at their peak of their WWF run here, having good matches and getting consistently good reactions from the crowds. They had actually won the WWF Tag Titles from The Hart Foundation at one stage but the top rope had broken during the match and it didn’t end up airing, meaning the reign never officially happened.
This match is great and possibly the best WrestleMania opener up to this point, as The Rockers run wild to start with some nice tandem offence and the Heels have to bail to the floor for some coaching from Heenan. Heenan actually gives good advice as well, commanding his bigger men to try and cut the ring in half to halt The Rocker’s speed advantage. Eventually the Heels get an illegal partner assisted Stun Gun on Marty whilst Shawn is trying to get into the ring to help him, leading to some heat on Marty.
Marty sells that well of course, and the crowd gets behind him to make a comeback. It’s not like this has been the most fluent match The Rockers have ever had, but it’s had great energy and the crowd has responded in kind. This is definitely four guys putting in “WrestleMania Effort” during a period when that wasn’t always a guarantee. Barbarian actually gets a pop from the crowd at one stage when he counters a Marty cross body attempt into a powerslam, with the fans just enjoying the match at this point.
Shawn eventually gets the hot tag and runs wild, with the crowd being way into it. Shawn looks good whilst making the comeback as well, with this match being a bit of a showcase for him thus far. I’m not sure if that was intentional or if it’s just the way it’s worked out. We get some near falls leading into The Rockers coming off the top with a Missile Dropkick (Marty) and Cross Body (Shawn) onto Haku respectively for the three count.
WINNERS: THE ROCKERS
Thoughts: This was a darn fine opening contest, with hot action and an excitable crowd making it all the more enjoyable
Mean Gene Okerlund is backstage with Marla Maples, Regis Philbin and Alex Trebek, who will all be helping out with the broadcast tonight. Regis seems to be the biggest wrestling fan of the three celebrities, or at the very least he seems to have a semblance of a clue as to what is going on and what he’s there to achieve as a guest star.
Canadian Strongman Dino Bravo w/ Jimmy Mouth of the South Hart Vs The Texas Tornado Kerry Von Erich
Bravo and Von Erich had both been pushed commodities during 1990, with Bravo being Earthquake’s buddy and co-conspirator whilst Von Erich had been the Intercontinental Champion. However, both of them are very much on their way down the ladder here and both would tragically end up dead long before the 90’s came to a close.
Kerry gets a decent pop for his entrance, so he probably still had some mileage as a smiling mid-card babyface if he could have kept his personal demons in check. Bravo attacks Kerry as he gets into the ring, leading to Kerry getting clotheslined out to the floor whilst trying to remove his ring jacket. Kerry makes sporadic attempts at fighting back, but Bravo always regains the initiative again.
Bravo gets the Side Slam, which was actually his finisher at the time, but Kerry kicks out of it. Yeah, it was never a good sign for your career direction if people were kicking out of your finisher in lower card prelim matches around this time. This was way before near fall culture had kicked in and you might expect some kick outs of big moves in these matches. You could tell what Bravo’s standing was with that kick out. Kerry gets THE CLAW soon after and punches Bravo for three to complete Bravo’s jobberfication.
WINNER: KERRY VON ERICH
Thoughts: This was too short to really be anything, and what we got was pretty sloppy. Kerry got a nice pop for his win though at least
Sean Mooney is backstage with The Warlord and his manager Slick. Slick is confident that his man will be victorious later. Slick was serviceable here whilst Warlord cut the usual 80’s meathead promo, complete with evil cackle.
Meanwhile, Davey Boy Smith is with Mean Gene and his pet bulldog Winston. Winston says there is no bull in this British Bulldog. Cute.
The Warlord w/ The Doctor of Style Slick Vs The British Bulldog Davey Boy Smith w/ Winston
These two were both big muscular guys and happened to have good chemistry as opponents, so putting them together seemed like a natural feud. Warlord had a punishing Full Nelson at the time that no one could break out of, so if Smith wants to win then he’ll probably have to figure out a way to avoid that or somehow manage to break it. That’s a nice solid story upon which to build a match.
Smith gets a pretty thunderous babyface pop for his entrance, showing that the folks in LA have some taste at least. Both wrestlers play their roles well here, with Warlord being the big monster who has to be chipped away at, whilst Smith is the speedier more technical wrestler looking for ways to get around that, which he shows early by getting a series of quick-fire shoulder tackles to knock Warlord down, which is something that Warlord can’t do himself.
The match follows a pretty simple structure, which is that Smith can have some joy when he’s sticking and moving but Warlord has control of things when he can slow it down and reduce the distance between the two competitors. This is made clear when Warlord cinches in a big Bear Hug at one stage and Smith has to fight his way out of it. Warlord does get one quick counter where he catches Smith with a Stun Gun, but mostly Warlord moves at a deliberate pace whilst Smith is the one who is light on his feet.
A chin lock slows things down a tad too much at one stage, but that’s my only real complaint with the match. Aside from that it’s an enjoyable battle and both wrestlers work very well together. I believe they were good friends outside of the ring as well, so they probably enjoyed getting to work together on the big stage like this. Warlord does manage to get Smith in his dreaded Full Nelson, but Smith refuses to submit and manages to break it for a big pop, leading to the Running Powerslam for the Three Count. It’s coming home!!
WINNER: DAVEY BOY SMITH
Thoughts: This was a really good power battle, as both wrestlers played their respective roles well and the wrestling was solid. The match told an enjoyable story with the nimbler Smith finally showing at the end that he was a power match with The Warlord as well, leading to the satisfying clean finish to please the crowd.
The Nasty Boys and Jimmy Hart are backstage with Mean Gene, where they shout and cackle about how they’re going to win the tag belts in the next match. This was the usual shouting promo from The Nasty Boys, and it was okay for what it was.
The Hart Foundation is with Sean Mooney, where they offer their retort. Anvil gives us some MORE shouting, whilst Bret is a bit more measured.
WWF Tag Team Titles
Champs: The Hart Foundation (Bret Hitman Hart and Jim The Anvil Neidhart) Vs The Nasty Boys (Brian Knobbs and Jerry Sags) w/ Jimmy Mouth of The South Hart
The Foundation had actually lost the tag belts to The Rockers at a TV taping but the top rope had broken during the match and the bout had fallen apart as a result, leading to it never airing and the belts remaining with The Hart Foundation. It’s probably one of the most unprofessional performances from Bret that I’ve ever seen actually as he totally sulked when the rope snapped and was a big reason the match grounded to a halt, and I say that as someone who is a big Bret Hart fan.
The Nasty’s had jumped to the WWF from WCW after they had tore the house down with The Steiner Brothers in WCW and didn’t happen to be under contract, Because WCW, which of course led to the WWF poaching them as soon as possible, Because WWF. The Nasty’s had managed to become the #1 contenders thanks to Power and Glory helping them out against The Road Warriors, so it wasn’t like they were presented as being especially deserving coming in.
Bret beats up both Nasty’s all by himself to start, with them taking some nice bumps for him. I think this was partially done as a way to put some steam on Bret because he’d be going solo very soon, with Anvil taking a new partner in the form of Owen Hart. Both Bret and Anvil are way over with the crowd here and The Nasty’s do a good jump bumping around for both them during the shine, which succeeds in getting the crowd into the action.
Knobbs eventually manages to catch Bret with a cheap shot at one stage and that gives us our Heel heat segment, which Bret sells well. Anvil does a good job as the partner waiting on the apron for a hot tag actually, as you can tell he’s just chomping at the bit to get in there and it translates to the crowd who really want to see Anvil run wild. The Nasty’s do a solid job working the heat on Bret, keeping it simple to punches, stomps and rest holds for the most part.
Anvil does eventually gets the hot tag and gets to look like an absolute beast by flinging The Nasty’s into one another and taking them out with some hefty clotheslines. We get some near falls following that, with the crowd continuing to be really into the match. The Foundation gets The Hart Attack on Knobbs, but the referee is distracted by getting Bret out of the ring and that leads to The Nasty’s using a motorcycle helmet to clonk Anvil for the three count.
WINNERS AND NEW CHAMPIONS: THE NASTY BOYS
Thoughts: This was some good tag team action and the crowd was really into the match. The Nasty’s slowed it down a bit in the heat but they didn’t lose the crowd in the process and the match ended up being a good way for The Hart Foundation to bow out
Jimmy Hart does the big celebration following that, which does a great job of making the belts feel like they’re important and is something I wish we saw more in modern wrestling sometimes.
We get a recap of the feud between the competitors in the next match, followed by a quick promo from Jake Roberts, where he says snakes have six senses.
Rick The Model Martel Vs Jake The Snake Roberts w/ Damien
The story here was that Martel had blinded Roberts by spraying him in the eye with his perfume, thus leading to Roberts asking for this match so that Martel would be forced to understand Robert’s pain at being blinded. It’s not like a regular match would have been much better considering that Martel always tended to dog it in the ring during his time as The Model in comparison to his AWA stuff and his WCW run in 1998.
This one is great fun for the live crowd, as they really get to be involved in it. Whenever Jake points in Martel’s direction the crowd goes nuts, thus letting Jake know where Martel is. It’s a simple match structure but it works for what it is. I certainly don’t hate this match as much as others seem to, mainly because the crowd really has a lot of fun with it and sometimes it’s just nice to watch people have some fun you know?
As an actual wrestling match, this one is a total farce, because they can’t really do anything because they can’t see one another in kayfabe, so it’s mostly just them stumbling around and occasionally doing the odd move here or there. Martel does a decent job stooging and acting afraid, whilst Jake does an excellent job controlling the crowd and getting them to react how he wants them to. Eventually Jake manages to catch Martel with the DDT and that’s enough for the three count.
WINNER: JAKE THE SNAKE
Thoughts: I can’t really rate that because it wasn’t really a wrestling match and more an elaborate pantomime taking place in a wrestling ring. I didn’t hate it though, although I think they might have potentially gone on for a bit too long. The gag is a decent one, but it’s pretty one note and there’s only so much you can do with it before you’ve seen everything the match can offer
Jake gets a bit of revenge following the match by breaking Martel’s perfume device and then unleashing Damien from his sack for some snake shenanigans until Martel flees for his life.
Marla Maples is backstage with the new Tag Champs, who are celebrating. Fellow Jimmy Hart clients The Mountie, Dino Bravo and The Earthquakejoin in the celebration in a nice touch.
The Undertaker w/ Paul Bearer Vs Superfly Snuka
Undertaker had debuted back in November of 1990 and had gotten over almost instantly. Taker had been working his way through the mid-card babyfaces, defeating the likes of Greg Valentine and The Tugboat, with Snuka being the next on his list. This match also started his famed WrestleMania Streak™. Undertaker already comes across as a big deal here, and the production crew does it’s best to find footage of kids looking scared during Taker’s entrance.
Snuka gets barely any offence in here, as Taker methodically destroys him whilst the commentary team does the big sell job for how impressive Undertaker is. Snuka gets a brief flurry for token offence when he manages to dodge an elbow drop, but Undertaker shrugs it off rather easily, getting a bit of a pop from the crowd as a result, who can appreciate how dominant he’s been here. Taker counters a Snuka cross body attempt into The Tombstone and that’s enough for three.
WINNER: THE UNDERTAKER
Thoughts: This was a fantastic squash match that made Undertaker look like the scariest dude in the entire promotion. You can see why he was feuding with the likes of Ultimate Warrior and Hulk Hogan as the year rolled on because he looked like a WWF Champion in waiting here
We get a video package hyping up the next match and detailing all of the major events in the storyline up to this point.
Career Ending Matchup
The Macho King Randy Savage w/ Sensational Queen Sherri Vs The Ultimate Warrior
Macho King had cost Warrior the WWF Title back at the Royal Rumble, leading to the two trying to tear one another apart. It was decided that the WWF wasn’t big enough for the two of them, so this match was made to settle things. We see that Miss. Elizabeth, Macho King’s former manager, is sitting in the crowd to watch this one. Heenan of course thinks she’s come to gloat about the possible impending end of Macho King’s career.
Warrior decides to walk down to the ring tonight rather than run in order to make this bout feel special and out of the ordinary. Warrior also has it written on his tights that this match means more than the WWF Title, possibly in order to thumb it to the fact that these two aren’t feuding for the belt here. The crowd is of course mightily into this one, being that it’s two of the biggest stars in the company going at it with a really important stipulation.
Warrior calmly and methodically destroys Savage to start, with Sherri even taking some licks at certain points as well, including Warrior shoving her down at one stage when he gets sick of her hitting him behind the referees back. Savage keeps trying to find a way into the bout but Warrior has an answer for anything until Savage is finally able to dodge a shoulder tackle and apply a chinlock. The crowd sticks with Warrior during that, as Savage desperately tries to cling on and keep Warrior down on the mat now he finally has a brief advantage.
The referee ends up taking a bump and that leads to Sherri accidentally hitting Savage with her shoe. Warrior stupidly decides to chase after Sherri rather than going after the downed Savage however, and that allows Savage to get a near fall from the revived referee with a School Boy. Savage works some more heat following that and then drops a series of Macho Elbow Drops from the top rope, getting five in total, but Warrior still manages to just about kick out at two.
At this stage the crowd is starting to have kittens, as they’ve been led on a merry dance by both wrestlers here, which only continues when Warrior makes the comeback and gets his Big Splash, only for Savage to kick out this time and cause Warrior to doubt himself. Warrior does a good job of selling the shock of it all, going to the trouble of asking his God’s what to do next, to which I’m thinking the answer was probably “make sure to ramp up the xenophobia and homophobia when you start doing guest speeches at universities”.
Savage tries to crush Warrior’s windpipe on the metal railings following that, but Warrior is able to dodge it and then decides that this is some kind of a message from his God’s and goes back on the offensive, destroying Savage with a series of shoulder tackles before pinning him with one foot Def Jam Vendetta style in order to bring the bout, and supposedly Savage’s career, to an end.
WINNER: THE ULTIMATE WARRIOR
Thoughts: This is a classic bout for good reason, as it features two crazy characters beating the stuffing out of one another until one of them couldn’t get up anymore, with the finish being a good example of that as Warrior just kept shoulder tackling Savage until Savage could barely move and then just pinned him. All I will say is that the last shoulder tackle probably needed to be a bit cleaner as Savage rolled out of the ring and was briefly standing up at ringside only to then get dragged in and pinned. I think Savage needed to be flat out on his back outside the ring and Warrior had to make a point of going outside and throwing Savage’s limp body in before making the three count
Warrior puts his jacket on and makes his exit, leaving Savage and Sherri in the ring. Sherri is of course annoyed that her meal ticket has failed her and she puts a beating on Savage as a result. This leads to Elizabeth running into the ring and sending Sherri packing before doing the big tearful reunion with her old beau in a great WrestleMania Moment™. Savage opening the ropes for Elizabeth is a very nice addendum to the being a jerk phase of his career actually, as he’s actually a gentleman after being a crazed nutter for years.
The commentary team hypes up the rest of the card.
Regis Philbin is backstage with The Undertaker and Paul Bearer. They don’t seem too interested in answering his questions and instead take some measurements.
Alex Trebek is with Demolition and Mr. Fuji, who aren’t that interested in playing games with Trebek. Fuji seems very happy at the prospect of his fellow Japanese guys getting clobbered.
Regis is with Tenryu and Kitao, who can’t understand anything he’s saying until he starts saying Japanese brand names. This was an all-time terrible promo segment.
Trebek is with Jake Roberts and Damien. Trebek runs away because he doesn’t like snakes.
The Demolition (Smash and Crush) w/ Mr. Fuji Vs Koji Kitao and Genichiro Tenryu
This one came about because the WWF had a working relationship with the SWS promotion in Japan. Tenryu and Kitao are two of the biggest stars of that promotion, so they’ve been brought in here for Mania. Maffew has done some great reviews of SWS on here actually so check his archives in order to read up on the promotion. Demolition was way past their peak as a team and this was the last time they were to team together on pay per view.
Demolition just have generic scary music for their entrance here, thus getting rid of one of the best parts of their act. Kitao famously was both a terrible wrestler and had a terrible attitude for good measure, and he shows that here by lumbering around and just generally looking like he doesn’t know what he’s doing. I’m guessing the WWF wanted him to come in as Tenryu’s partner because he’s big, but I can’t help but think they could have brought someone better in.
Demolition works a bit of heat on Kitao for a bit following a cane shot from Fuji, with Kitao doing a terrible job of selling it. Demolition’s offence doesn’t look bad or anything, but this is the quietest the crowd has been all night thus far, and they’ve pretty hot for most of the other matches. That’s possibly a combination of the crowd not knowing who the Japanese guys are and not caring about Demolition as a Heel team.
Tenryu eventually gets a hot tag and looks good for the short time he’s in there for, although he’s soon cut off as well, as I ponder what the SWS team are actually getting out of this? They’ve come in, had a pretty heatless match and have spent most of that match getting beaten up by a way past their peak Demolition. Tenryu eventually manages to catch Smash with an enziguri and follows up with a Powerbomb for the three count.
WINNERS: TENRYU & KITAO
Thoughts: This was no good, as Demolition looked listless, Kitao looked awful and Tenryu looked fine but didn’t have a chance to do much. The match plodded along and the crowd didn’t care about it. If I was watching this as someone who had never seen SWS before and with no real knowledge of Japanese wrestling, I’d be wondering what the big fuss was about if two of their top guys had this much trouble beating the clearly finished Demolition
Big Boss Man is backstage with Mean Gene. Boss Man says he’ll win the IC belt tonight and avenge his mamma in the process. This was a good intense promo from Boss Man.
Sean Mooney is backstage with Mr. Perfect and Bobby Heenan. Heenan cuts the usual good promo, riffing on police brutality in LA. Perfect (looking pretty bloated it must be said) adds his own words and does a good job as well.
WWF Intercontinental Title
Champ: Mr. Perfect w/ Bobby The Brain Heenan Vs The Big Boss Man
This one came about because Heenan had been insulting Boss Man’s mother, thus starting a feud as Boss Man fought his way through Heenan’s stable. Rick Rude had actually started things off with the insulting comments, but then he left the WWF over a payoff dispute and they had to transfer the feud over to Heenan instead, with Perfect being the crown jewel of his faction.
Perfect takes his usual array of impressive bumps, including a flip one from a Boss Man slap in the early going. Boss Man is in great shape here and is moving at a quick clip as a result. Perfect being so willing to pinball around for Boss Man helps make Boss Man look like a big deal also, as he could easily have won the IC Title during this timeframe and not looked out of place that high up the card, so the fans buy that it might happen.
Boss Man takes his belt off and whips Perfect with it a bit, but Perfect ends up getting hold of it and uses it for the cut off. Boss Man sells well in the heat and Perfect does a good job as an arrogant Heel that you want to see lose his belt. It’s not long before Boss Man’s shirt starts to become unbuttoned, which is the usual sign that he’s been working hard in a match, with Perfect’s hair starting to get frizzy in order to show that he’s also been putting the effort in.
Eventually former Heenan client Andre The Giant joins us in order to back up Boss Man, which leads to Perfect taking the IC Title belt to the face from Boss Man’s big equaliser. Andre delivered that belt shot very smoothly and it looked great. Boss Man makes the cover on Perfect following that, with the crowd biting that it might be the end, but Perfect manages to kick out and it’s just a near fall. Haku and Barbarian then run in for the DQ. I wonder if they were supposed to break up the pin and they missed their cue?
WINNER BY DQ: BIG BOSS MAN (PERFECT RETAINS)
Thoughts: This was a solid match. I know it would have been nice for Boss Man to win the belt but Bret Hart was getting it at the next pay per view and that was a better direction to go in, so giving Boss Man the DQ win was a good compromise
Boss Man and Andre shake hands following that, with Andre giving the new guy a rub in a nice moment.
Mean Gene interviews some celebrities including future President Goofball, Chuck Norris, Henry Winkler and El Dandy! Oh wait sorry, that was Lou Ferringo. My bad…
The Earthquake w/ Jimmy Mouth of the South Hart Vs Greg The Hammer Valentine
Valentine had formerly been a client of Hart, but he has since gone babyface on his own, which has led to Hart sicking the resident monster of his stable on him. This was a bit of a stepdown for Quake, seeing as he’d been feuding with Hulk Hogan for big chunks of 1990. It highlighted that his days of being a genuine Main Event level guy in the WWF were over, although he did have a good tag run with Typhoon and also got reasonably over as a singles babyface in 93/94 until he decided to move on to WCW at the end of 1994.
Valentine gets enough offence here that this isn’t a squash match, as I’m guessing they didn’t want to make him look too weak so that they could use him as an effective lower mid-card babyface on the House Shows? Valentine actually knocks Quake down at one stage and drops an elbow, getting some decent pops from the crowd in the process. Quake’s legs are too big to apply the Figure Four though, and a Hart distraction allows Quake to drop an elbow and deliver the Aftershock for three.
WINNER: THE EARTHQUAKE
Thoughts: Too short to be anymore, but this was fine. I was surprised how much offence they gave Valentine and Quake needed his managers assistance in order to win, which was a definite departure from how his character was originally portrayed as an unstoppable monster who wouldn’t need that sort of help
Sean Mooney is backstage with The Road Warriors, who cut the usual promo on Power & Glory. Vengeance is promised and The Nasty Boys are next on the list. This was fine.
Power and Glory (Hercules and Paul Roma) w/ The Doctor of Style Slick Vs The Road Warriors (Hawk and Animal)
Power and Glory had been getting a decent push but Roma is injured here, so they get squashed very quickly by The Road Warriors as a result. Why they couldn’t have just subbed in a replacement partner for the night is beyond me, but I guess it was imperative to the WWF that they present this match on WrestleMania VII as advertised; hence Power and Glory had to be destroyed as any kind of a serious threat in the tag ranks.
WINNERS: THE ROAD WARRIORS
Thoughts: I still don’t get why they couldn’t have just tagged Hercules up with an enhancement guy like Brooklyn Brawler or something here. The finish then writes itself, with Hercules throwing his replacement partner to the wolves and then taunting The Road Warriors in the aisle post-match so that they can do the match properly when Roma is healthy.
We get a video package to hype up the next match.
Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase Vs Wrestling Superstar Virgil w/ Rowdy Roddy Piper
Dibiase and Virgil had been boss and lackey respectively, with Virgil finally deciding that he’d had enough of being subservient to Dibiase and going out on his own, with Piper agreeing to coach him. Piper is on crutches here because he’d suffered a serious motorcycle crash. I believe that led to Piper having a titanium hip going forwards.
Virgil’s ring style is similar to that of a boxer, in that he shucks, jives and throws punches, which gives him a bit of his own unique flavour I suppose. Dibiase sells all of Virgil’s offence like a Champ and the crowd is into watching the pompous rich guy get beaten up, so the match has good crowd reactions and Dibiase holds things together well.
Dibiase eventually manages to get some offence of his own, keeping it simple with things like chops and holds so as not to make Virgil do anything he can’t do. Virgil bumps and sells for everything well and the crowd gets behind him. Dibiase shoves Piper down at one stage for that extra Heel heat, which Heenan of course thinks is hilarious, but Piper low bridges Dibiase for revenge and that leads to Dibiase losing via count out.
WINNER BY COUNT OUT: VIRGIL
Thoughts: Their SummerSlam match later in the year was much better, but this wasn’t bad for a quick first match between the two and it set up future matches well. This feud was probably the peak of Virgil’s singles career, unless you want to count his time in the nWo during WCW
Dibiase beats up Virgil following the bout, leading to Piper making the save. However, Sensational Sherri joins us and helps Dibiase put a beating on the babyfaces, thus setting her up as Dibiase’s new manager. I know some didn’t like that pairing but I thought it was pretty good and it re-heated Dibiase a bit.
Sean Mooney recaps what WWF Champ Sgt Slaughterhas been doing, including burning a Hulk Hogan shirt. I’m guessing that was supposed to be the American flag but then they got cold feet about it? General Adnan and Slaughter join us following that, leading to the usual promo from the Heels. Slaughter says that Hogan is playing by his rules tonight, which I don’t think came to anything in the match itself.
The Mountie w/ Jimmy Mouth of the South Hart Vs Tito Santana
The Mountie character was still pretty new to the promotion (although he’d previously wrestled there under his real name) and the WWF was building him up with wins, hence why he’s wrestling Santana here. Santana still had some credibility from being a former IC and Tag Champion, meaning that he could give a new Heel a bit of a rub by putting them over, but he was by no means a pushed commodity anymore by this stage in his career.
The crowd reactions are still surprisingly good nearly 3 hours into this pay per view, with Santana getting some pops from the crowd as he bumps Mountie around in the early going. Hart passes Mountie the cattle prod though and Mountie shocks Santana whilst the referee is distracted for the quick win.
WINNER: THE MOUNTIE
Thoughts: Too short to rate as they were barely in there. It wasn’t actively bad or anything and Santana got a little bit of offence in before losing in a tainted manner, so it’s not like he was hurt by it and Mountie ended up looking like a devious bad guy, so it served its purpose as a match
Hulk Hogan cuts the military themed promo with Mean Gene ahead of the Title match. It’s the usual Hogan cheesiness but he delivers it with some passion at least.
Champ: Sgt Slaughter w/ General Adnan Vs Hulk Hogan
They had tried to have Hogan pass the torch to Warrior at the previous Mania, but some of the Hogan fans didn’t really welcome Warrior into their hearts as required to make his Title run the success it needed to be. Warrior also suffered from a lack of strong opponents, so the decision was eventually made to put the belt on the Iraqi sympathiser Sgt Slaughter so they could do the classic xenophobic “Hogan Vs Someone Who Doesn’t Love ‘Murica” storyline.
Of course this coincided with the first Gulf War and a lot of people found it supremely tasteless that the WWF was milking a real life war for storyline purposes, and as a result WrestleMania VII ended up being a bit of a disappointment at the box office. As previously mentioned, the WWF claimed it was due to security concerns that they changed venues, but that seems like it was a face saving measure. The question was, despite the controversial build, could Slaughter and Hogan at least have a good match to pay it all off? Well, let’s read on and find out!
Slaughter pin balls around for Hogan in the early going, with Hogan even no selling a Slaughter chair shot. Slaughter outright begs off at one point, playing the ultra-devious cowardly heel to Hogan’s red, white and blue Pro-American babyface. Slaughter eventually manages to go to the eyes to take over for a bit, but Hogan is able to dodge an elbow drop and deliver the Axe Bomber. Adnan tries to get involved, but Hogan knocks him off the apron and then gets a nice Atomic Drop onto Slaughter for two.
Hogan continues to control things, with the idea being that this is supposed to be catharsis for the fans after months of Slaughter’s skulduggery as he finally gets his comeuppance, and that works well enough for a story. Eventually though the time comes for Hogan to take some proper heat, as Adnan stops him when he tries to go up top and that allows Slaughter to throw the challenger off the top rope Ric Flair style. Slaughter takes things outside and adds some more chair shots, with Hogan selling them this time.
The referee doesn’t disqualify Slaughter because Slaughter had made a big show in his pre-match comments that he was going to show up to Mania with the goal of just getting DQ’ed so he could keep the belt, so the referee is showing some leniency so as to deny Slaughter from achieving his aims. I get that as a story point but the commentators kind of needed to do a better job of explaining it, with Bobby Heenan going on a rant about how the referee is biased etc.
Heenan does get a very good line in at one point though, as Slaughter gets a two count from the back breaker move that he would do on the Wrestle Fest arcade video game, stating that Slaughter should be the winner because in Iraq you only have to count to 2! Hogan sells the heat from Slaughter well and it has the desired effect of getting the crowd behind him as he tries to hold on and find a way back into the match.
Slaughter actually comes off the top rope with a double stomp to Hogan’s spine, but Adnan stupidly distracts the referee to complain about whatever, which gives Hogan enough time to kick out from the resulting pin attempt. Slaughter hits Hogan in the face with a chair in frustration and that leads to Hogan doing a bladejob, as they are doing everything they can here to make this as epic as they can. I have to admit that it’s working, as this feels special and different from everything else on the card due to the blade job and the weapon shots.
Slaughter stomps away on the back and goes to the camel clutch, which may have possibly been a hint that the The Iron Sheik would soon be coming back to the company to join his stable. Hogan manages to power his way to his feet, but Slaughter promptly shoves him into the corner and then buries Hogan under the Iraqi flag, which is finally all Hogan needs to start Hulking Up. This is such a cheap and tacky storytelling device but it works an absolute treat as the crowd goes nuts for Hogan putting Slaughter away with the Leg Drop of DOOM to win the Title.
WINNER AND NEW CHAMPION: HULK HOGAN
Thoughts: This was actually quite a good match, as both men were experienced pros who knew exactly what story they wanted to tell and the crowd was on board to watch it. It was a bit different from your usual Hogan Formula™ match as it focused a lot on Hogan really wanting to give Slaughter a solid kicking for his anti-American ways, which in essence led to a really long babyface shine before Slaughter inevitably managed to get some heat on him
Hogan celebrates with the American flag post-match, as Gorilla Monsoon dubiously claims that the war is now over. Yes, I’m sure Saddam Hussain watched WrestleMania VII and went “Welp, Hogan just beat Slaughter, I guess I better step down from my position as despot and move on to doing embroidery in the Swiss Alps. You sure showed me Hulkster!”
This show was probably at least 3-4 matches too long, but there was some really good stuff on the undercard and the Main Event delivered, so overall it’s an easy thumbs up from me. I think you can argue that it’s one of the best early WrestleMania events based purely on overall match quality, as it has 5 matches at *** or higher by my watch, which wasn’t at all to be sniffed at when it came to the WWF from this Era, as they were usually more about the bombast and pageantry than they were about the quality of the wrestling, so this event stands out as a result and is well worth a viewing. It’s just a shame about the exploitation of the war and I am somewhat glad that the show tanked from a business perspective because the WWF deserved it really.