The SmarK Rant for WWF Wrestlemania VII
By Scott Keith on 5th November 2023
Live from the Los Angeles Coliseum LA Sports Arena
Your hosts are Gorilla Monsoon and a rotating cast of color commentators, mainly Bobby Heenan. First up is Hacksaw Duggan, introduced with entrance music dubbed over where he had none previously. I don’t get that.
The Rockers v. Haku & The Barbarian
FACES OF FEAR~! Odd choice for an opener, as Haku & Barbarian had no backstory together other than being members of the Heenan Family. Haku grabs a headlock on Shawn to start and runs him into the corner, but they criss-cross and Shawn takes him down with a shoulder tackle for one. The Rockers double-team with a hiptoss into a double elbow, but Barbarian DESTROYS them with a clothesline for a rare double 180 somersault sell by the Rockers. Truly a special night. Rockers regroup with a double superkick to put Barbarian on the floor, and the heels get some advice from Heenan. Normally I’d have a joke here, but you’ll have to insert your own tonight. Back in, Barbarian hammers Marty on the apron, but gets caught with a sunset flip that gets two. Marty tries working the arm, but a double headbutt flattens him. Marty tries a rana, but Barbarian drops him on the top rope and Jannetty is YOUR face in peril. Haku elbows him down for another somersault sell, and Barbarian gets a press slam and draws Shawn in with a cheapshot. Haku and Marty collide and Marty gets two. That was clearly a blown spot, but they worked through it. Haku gets a pair of nasty backbreakers and Barbarian gets two. Clothesline and bearhug follow, and Barbarian whips Marty into the corner to work the back. Marty comes out of there with a flying clothesline, but Barbarian catches him in mid-air with a powerslam. Good spot. Barbarian goes up for the diving headbutt, but it misses, and it’s hot tag Shawn. Back elbow for Haku and he slugs away on both heels, and a neckbreaker on Haku gets two. Sunset flip gets two. They double-dropkick Barbarian out of the ring and finish Haku with a Marty missile dropkick into Shawn’s flying bodypress at 10:33. Great opener, as the Rockers were peaking as a team just before they self-destructed.
Meanwhile, Mean Gene interviews Regis Philbin, Alex Trebek and Marla Maples. One of these things does not have the same cultural status she did in 1991.
Dino Bravo v. Kerry Von Erich
Now here’s a depressing match for you. Both guys were rapidly on the way down the slippery slope as it was, and of course it ended badly for both. Bravo hammers away before Tornado can get his robe off, but he makes the comeback and they slug it out in the corner. That goes nowhere and Bravo gets a cheapshot, then drops an elbow for two. Side slam gets two. Bravo comes off the middle rope with a forearm shot that literally misses by a foot, but Kerry comes back with the claw and finishes with the discus punch at 3:10. Short and yet still god-awful. Kerry was just missing everything and couldn’t even hit the finisher properly.
The British Bulldog v. The Warlord
Warlord pounds away to start, but Bulldog shoulderblocks him out of the ring. Back in, Bulldog with a crucifix, but Warlord drops down to counter and follows with an elbowdrop for two. Bearhug, and he drops Bulldog on the top rope for two. Belly to belly gets two. We hit the chinlock, but Bulldog elbows out and dropkicks him into the corner. Bulldog comes off the middle with a forearm, into a crossbody for two. Piledriver is countered into a backdrop, but Bulldog gets a sunset flip for two. Warlord clotheslines him down and it’s time for the Full-Nelson, but he’s no Chris Masters so Bulldog is able to power out. And since he’s had enough tonight, the powerslam finishes at 8:12. Not too shabby.
WWF World tag titles: The Hart Foundation v. The Nasty Boys
Bret gets slugged down by Sags right away, but gets the Thesz Press and fights off both Nasties. He slingshots Sags in and starts on the arm, prompting Sags to tag out to Knobs. So Anvil comes in to match and pounds him in the corner, then hiptosses him over the top to clean house. Back in, he goes to the arm, but goes to the wrong corner. He quickly recovers and gets Bret in in for some punishment on Sags in the corner. Russian legsweep and elbow get two. However, he goes after Knobs and turns his back, which opens him up to getting clobbered from behind with a clothesline, and thus he’s the face-in-peril. Bret was also clearly the breakout star of the team at this point, and seemed bigger than the match. So Bret goes to the corner and Sags follows with a backbreaker for two. He gets a rear chinlock and Knobs stays on the back with the same. Back to Sags, who adds a neckbreaker for two. Back to the chinlock, but Bret escapes with his own neckbreaker. Knobs comes in and stays on the back, however, forcing Bret to power out. The Nasties try the Harts’ own double-whip, but Bret moves and it’s the false tag. Heel miscommunication gives us the real hot tag, however, and Anvil clotheslines everyone and gets two on Knobs. Powerslam gets two. Nasties collide again and the Hart Attack results, but Sags hits Anvil with the helmet and Knobs gets the pin and the titles at 12:01. Probably one of the best matches ever for the Nasties, although I still think a match against Money Inc. on a Coliseum video was better. This was more about Bret’s coming out party than elevating the Nasties in any meaningful way, and that’s fine.
Blindfold match: Jake Roberts v. Rick Martel
Martel was such a bland heel that even the old venerable “blinded babyface” angle turned into a bore in his hands. So the concept here is of course that both guys are hooded (and this cut of the show clearly shows that they can see through them), as they stumble around the ring for a bit before Jake gets a fluke rollup for two. Another stupid spot sees Martel putting his head down for a backdrop, but Jake just moves out of the way. Which leads to the question: Why wouldn’t you just do that all the time? The gag here is that Jake points to a location and the crowd cheers to indicate Martel’s location, Martel runs away, repeat. For amusing the crowd it’s a fine bit, but a real match it’s awful. Martel gets his hands on Jake and slams him, but misses an elbow because Jake gets up and he can’t see it. Like really, any halfway intelligent wrestler would, you know, WRESTLE his opponent to the ground rather than trying typical worked spots. Jake claps his hands to fake out Martel and then tries a takedown from behind, but Martel makes the ropes and we’re back to blindly wandering around the ring. This also brings up my biggest beef with this match: MARTEL DOESN’T CHEAT. He’s the fucking HEEL, he should be taking off his hood behind the ref’s back and then beating the shit out of Jake to get the heat. What kind of a pussy adheres to the stips? Jake tries a headlock and then falls to the floor (Bobby: “Excuse me…Martel! He’s on the floor!”) Martel follows him out and grabs a chair, but Jake drags him back in. Martel comes back with a backbreaker into the crab, but Jake escapes and finishes, thank god, with the DDT at 8:28.
Undertaker v. Jimmy Snuka
Horrible overdub alert: Snuka’s music is replaced with generic up-tempo crap, so Fink has to redo his introduction. Really? They don’t have the rights to “Superfly” any longer? Did the guy at the beginning threaten to sue-sue-sue them?
Thank you, I’ve been waiting to work that one in for like 5 years now.
Anyway, Undertaker coldly puts Snuka down with the flying clothesline and drops the elbow, but that misses. Snuka fires back with chops, but tries a bodypress and lands on the floor instead. He fights back in for the apron and tries to slingshot back in, but Taker catches him and finishes with the tombstone at 4:15. And that is 1-0 for Undertaker. Can you even imagine?
Retirement match: Randy Savage v. Ultimate Warrior
Hey, isn’t that the lovely Elizabeth at ringside? More importantly, who’s her date? Man, that guy is about to get cock-blocked in the worst way. Warrior’s entrance is pretty reserved as compared to his usual, which was kind of the point. Savage goes with the cheapshot to start and pounds away, but Warrior puts him down with a shoulderblock and follows with a clothesline. Warrior chokes him down and gets an atomic drop from both ways, then tosses Savage into Sherri before slugging Savage down again. Macho gets tied in the ropes, but gets free and puts Warrior down with the hooking clothesline, then goes up with the flying bodypress, but Warrior catches him and sets him down to really egg him on. Oooo, BURN. Savage gets frustrated and tosses a chair in for the distraction, then blindsides Warrior, but Warrior calmly pounds him down and stomps a mudhole in the corner. Blind charge misses, however, and Warrior hits the floor, giving Sherri a chance to torment him. Savage follows with a flying axehandle to the floor, and sends Warrior into the post. Another shot from Sherri and they head back in for a Savage kneedrop that gets two. Warrior gets a backslide for two and Gorilla informs us “we’ve just been informed that this is the largest audience in the history of pay-per-view”. Really? In the middle of the show they got those numbers? Warrior tries the flying shoulderblock, but Savage moves and gets two. That was a weak spot, actually. Savage goes to a sleeper, but Warrior fights out of it and they criss-cross into the double-clothesline. Warrior reverses a slam into the small package, but the ref is distracted by Sherri and it only gets two. Ref is bumped and Sherri gets more directly involved, but hits Savage with her shoe by mistake. Warrior goes after her, allowing Savage to get a rollup for two. Warrior slugs him down, but Savage sends him into the turnbuckles and it’s looking bad for Warrior. Slam gets two and Savage drops the big elbow, then gets really dramatic and drops FOUR MORE of them. You’d think that would do it, but it only gets two. Warrior powers up and makes the comeback with the three clotheslines and gorilla press, but the big splash only gets two. Maybe he should have done FIVE of them like Savage did. Warrior appeals to the gods for help, or maybe just the photographer in the rafters, who knows with this guy. No answer is forthcoming so he decides to walk out of the match and think it over, but Savage makes the decision for him and attacks. Savage tries to drop an axehandle onto the Warrior’s throat ala Ricky Steamboat, but he misses and splatters himself on the railing. And Warrior apparently has his message (perhaps God had voice mail and was just on another call at the time) because he heads back in and spears Savage out of the ring. Back in, second verse same as the first. One last shoulderblock and Savage is retired (with a bazillion more World titles yet to come) at 20:45. Still awesome, although the occasional goofed up spot and slightly anti-climactic ending leave it well short of perfection.
And of course, Machiavellian Sherri attacks her former meal ticket afterwards like Lady Macbeth, leaving Elizabeth to make the unlikely save, finally getting physically involved on behalf of Savage after years of being the distraction and nothing more. And so they are reunited again and would have been the happy ending to Savage’s career, had it actually been the ending. The retirement proved to be pretty inconvenient because suddenly Savage was the #2 babyface in the promotion again and could have easily carried the belt. Anyway, I think I have dust in my eye, let’s move on…
Demolition v. Genichiro Tenryu & Koji Kitao
What a strangely random tag team match. Clearly this is after the intermission, which is brutal because we’re already two hours into this thing with two title matches to come. The pre-match interviews with Regis trying to interview the Japanese contingent and Trebek antagonizing Demolition are brutal. Speaking of brutal, “Demolition” is once again edited out, giving us Spooky Ghost Finkel. Crush attacks Kitao, but he fires back with forearms. Fuji hits him with the cane to give the Demos the advantage, but Kitao doesn’t really sell any of Smash’s goofy offense. Crush goes to the neck vice and Smash chokes him out. Kitao finally gets a random clothesline out of the corner and brings Tenryu in, but he misses an elbow off the top. Crush comes in with a backbreaker and Smash sets up for the finish, but Kitao pushes Crush off the top and Tenryu hits Smash with an enzuigiri and finishes with the powerbomb at 4:39. I don’t WHAT they were going for here, but it probably wasn’t this. Demolition was thankfully put out to pasture as a concept after this.
Intercontinental title: Mr. Perfect v. Big Bossman
Finally, I can watch the uncut match. Another two-death match in a depressing series of them tonight. Four if you’re counting the referee and Andre. This was of course the culmination of Bobby Heenan insulting Big Bossman’s mother for months, resulting in Bossman mowing through the entire Heenan family. In hindsight, he should have won the title here. They had lots of time to put the belt back on Perfect before Bret got it anyway. Bossman’s music is overdubbed with the shitty Attitude era music, but thankfully Perfect’s theme survives. Bossman DISRESPECTS THE TOWEL and then spits on Perfect, and you know that’s not gonna stand. Bossman tosses Perfect around by the hair and then catches him with a clothesline out of the corner, as Perfect gives us his first somersault sell. Bossman tosses him to start the bumping officially . Back in, Perfect does the somersault bump out of the corner, and Bossman whips him with his belt for good measure. Perfect, however, is SMART and absorbs the punishment long enough to steal the belt, then wraps it around his fist and puts Bossman down with it. They slug it out in the corner and Perfect whips him into the turnbuckles, and then it’s a historic Gorilla moment: Mr. Perfect applies an abdominal stretch and Gorilla notes that it’s perfectly applied! That is the only time I’ve heard him fail to gripe about the foot not being hooked properly. Perfect releases and gets the necksnap, and NOW YOU’RE GONNA SEE A PERFECTPLEX, but sadly he’s wrong because Bossman reverses for two. Perfect fires back with an inverted version of the necksnap, and that’s just nasty. Perfect goes up and lands on Bossman’s boot, and Bossman posts him. Perfect bails to escape that, suckering Bossman out and into the STEEL stairs. Luckily, Andre the Giant is in the building to deal with these shenanigans, and he grabs the title belt from the timekeeper and then casually whacks Perfect with it. Perfect’s sell of that is epic. You’d think “title change” there, but no, it only gets two as the cavalry runs in for the DQ at 10:44. Much better than the edited Coliseum version, but the finish just totally fell apart because Andre was really slow in hitting his marks. But then, would YOU argue with him?
Earthquake v. Greg Valentine
Boy, that Greg Valentine face turn…what more can you say about it? Oh man, Chuck Norris interviewed at ringside many years before he became an internet meme. Quake pounds him in the corner and follows with the powerslam, but Hammer comes out of the corner with an elbow and pounds Quake down. Elbow off the middle rope and Valentine drops the Hammer, but Quake’s legs are too big for the figure-four. Another try, but Valentine gets distracted by Jimmy Hart, and Quake puts him away at 3:14. It was what it was.
The Legion of Doom v. Power & Glory
If you put together a “Paul Roma’s Greatest Moments” DVD, this would probably be high up on the list. Another two-death match. P&G attacks to start, but Animal powerslams Roma and the Doomsday Device finishes him at 1:00. There’s your Wrestlemania Moment, Paul.
Ted DiBiase v. Virgil
Virgil’s inevitable slow-burn face turn was one where people had been waiting for years to see it, but once they did it they had nowhere else to go with the character. It’s a shame that UFC was still a few years away at this point, because a name change and refit into a MMA-style street fighter would have been a good gimmick direction for Virgil. The name change would have been an easy one as well, because he could be like “That was just the name you gave me!” and everyone would completely buy it.
In fact, why would he continue calling himself “Virgil” after leaving Dibiase’s employ, anyway? Virgil uses the fisticuffsmanship to get Dibiase off his game to start, then slingshots him in from the apron. He clotheslines Dibiase back out again, and gets a back elbow for two in the ring. Dibiase bails and stalls, and back in he accuses Virgil of cheating to buy time. Virgil takes him down, but Dibiase gets his own drop toehold and rams him into the turnbuckles a few times. Piledriver gets two. Suplex gets two. Gutwrench suplex gets two. Virgil bails and Dibiase follows him out and beats up on the crippled Roddy Piper for good measure, because he’s AWESOME. Back in, powerslam for Virgil, but Piper uses his crutch to pull down the top rope and Dibiase is counted out at 7:35. This didn’t really go anywhere and was far eclipsed by their Summerslam match later that year. Dibiase lays the beatdown on Virgil afterwards until Piper saves, but now Sherri changes teams and debuts as Dibiase’s new manager for a pairing that should have worked way better than it did. The storylines with Sherri siphoning off Dibiase’s millions could have written themselves.
The Mountie v. Tito Santana
And one last squash before the main event, just because this show wasn’t ridiculously long enough as it is. Tito gets the flying forearm right away and goes after Jimmy Hart, then hits Mountie with an atomic drop. Shock stick to the gut finishes for Mountie, however, at 1:18.
WWF World title: Sgt. Slaughter v. Hulk Hogan
Hulk works the headlock to start and boots Slaughter down, but goes after Adnan and that allows Slaughter to attack with a chair. Not just any chair, but a Wrestlemania souvenir chair from the looks of it! Those hurt EXTRA, but Hulk no-sells it and they head back in. Slaughter pounds away in the corner and puts Hogan down with an elbow, then drops knees before missing an elbow. Bobby goes off on a funny run on Regis’ behalf about how he dislikes Hogan because “the men I managed never got any title shots”, which is such a ridiculously blatant lie that you have to love it. Hogan comes back and whips Slaughter around the ring, then backdrops him out of the corner. Catapult into the post and Gorilla declares that we’re seeing “The Hulkster of the 90s”. No, I’d say the Hulk of the 90s was yet to come, but kudos for trying to be timely. Corner clothesline gets two and Hulk goes AERIAL, but Slaughter catches him coming down. Hulk shakes it off and slams him, then drops the elbows before going up AGAIN. Slaughter slams him off the top to take over, and goes to work on the back. Clothesline misses by a good foot, but Hogan sells it and goes to the floor anyway. Sarge chokes him out with the TV cable, which is carrying the signal to the biggest PPV audience in the history of PPV you know, and back in Slaughter keeps pounding the back. Boston Crab, and Slaughter uses the old Arn Anderson trick of having Adnan push on his head for leverage, but Hogan makes the ropes. Slaughter stays on the back and goes up with a flying kneedrop, but Adnan actually distracts the ref while Slaughter is covering. It still gets two. Slaughter retrieves another chair and hits Hogan right in the bald spot, and we get blood from that. The REAR CHINLOCK OF DEATH seems to signal the end for Hulkamania, but much like those democracy-loving Kuwaitis, Hogan escapes the deathgrip of Iraq and makes the comeback. Big boot, legdrop, and it’s mission accomplished and Osama Bin Laden captured all in one pinfall at 20:21. Lex Luger probably would have won by countout. Gorilla declares that the war is now officially over that Hogan has won the title back. I’m sure all the soldiers in Kuwait were relieved to hear that.
The Bottom Line:
Holy cow this show is LONG. The full version isn’t significantly different from the edited one in terms of making the show better or worse, but 3.5 hours is just way too long for a show that didn’t need junk filler like Earthquake v. Valentine and Tito Santana v. Mountie. Still kind of a forgotten and overly maligned show. Mild recommendation.