Recap – Wrestlemania III


Wrestlemania III

As of Wrestlemania III, our champions coming in were

  • WWF World Champion: Hulk Hogan – still champion without any breaks in his reign.
  • WWF Intercontinental Champion: “Macho Man” Randy Savage – Randy (which I failed to note in my Wrestlemania II review) won the belt through shenangans involving then-referee Danny Davis.
  • WWF Tag Team Champions: The Hart Foundation (Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart & Bret “Hitman” Hart) – managed by “Mouth of the South” Jimmy Hart. The Hart Foundation won the belts from the British Bulldogs through shenanigans involving ref Danny Davis. The two aforementioned incidents lead to Danny being suspended as a referee for “Life + 10 years” (kayfabe) with Danny becoming a heel wrestler, managed by Jimmy Hart.
  • WWF Woman’s Champion: Fabulous Moolah.

Also, the feuds of note, coming in.

  • Hercules and Billy Jack Hayes got in a feud over the Full Nelson, with the dispute being over which wrestler was better than the other at performing the hold.
  • Harley Race won the first King of the Ring tournament, started calling himself “King Harley Race” and started demanding that wrestlers bow to him. Junkyard Dog refused, this lead to a Loser Must Bow match between the 2.
  • After taking a leave of absence for a movie, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper found that Piper’s Pit had been replaced by Adrian Adonis’s “Flower Shop” Segment. Piper trashed the set, restarted the pit, and became embroiled in a feud with Adonis and his manager, Jimmy Hart.
  • Last, but certainly not least – in a surprising shock, Andre The Giant turned heel, aligning himself with Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, and with Andre attacking Hogan, ripping off his shirt and crucifix necklace.

Anyway, this year the event is being held at the Pontiac Silverdome, and, if I recall correctly, introduced the chariot thingies that would be used to carry wrestlers to the ring, rather then having to walk the long distance from the entrance area to the ring. Vince McMahon is in the ring, wearing his Mandelbrot Set tuxedo again, to introduce us to Wrestlemania 3 and introduce Aretha Franklin, who perform’s “America The Beautiful.”

We then go to Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse “The Body” Ventura with (*sigh) our 2 guest hosts – Mr. Baseball Bob Uecker and Mary Hart of Entertainment Tonight. Bob joins us in the commentary booth for our next match.

The Can-Am Connection (Rick Martel and Tom Zenk) vs. Cowboy Bob Orton and The Magnificent Don Muraco w/ Mr Fuji.

Muraco and Zenk start out. CAX dominates early on Muraco tagging out early and Orton coming in. Orton is no longer wearing the cast, but as a nice little hidden highlight, Martel and Zenk work over Orton’s left arm, which was the one he wore the cast on during the 2-Year Fracture. Muraco ultimately gets tagged in, Orton gets sent to the outside, and Martel gets a cross body on Muraco for 3.

Winner: The Can-Am Connection by pinfall on Don Muraco with a high cross body by Martel at 5:37.
Rating: ** – decent tag match with poor psychology. It was nice to see the show start with a clean win though.

We then get a quick video package setting up the Hercules-Billy Jack Hayes feud, as well as a backstage interview with Okerlund interviewing Heenan and Herc, with Heenan humorously correcting Gene on Billy Jack’s middle name (“It’s Billy Jerk Hayes”).

Hercules w/ Bobby “The Brain” Heenan vs. Billy Jack Hayes

Hayes is perhaps the first face I’ve seen at a Wrestlemania from the Pacific Northwest, and he wears his Oregon pride on his sleeve… in the colors of the University of Oregon. (Booooo!)

Herc and Jack lock up, with Herc getting some good offense early on, working over the back of Hayes with… power moves. I guess that works. However, considering what they’re feuding over, I would have liked to have seen some holds though. Herc goes for the Full Nelson but doesn’t lock the fingers togeather, allowing Jack to eventually power out. Jack hits an inverted Atomic Drop, lands a series of strikes, and properly applies the full nelson. Herc gets to the ropes and he (and Jack) end up flipping through. Jack keeps applying the hold on the outside until both men are counted out.

Winner: No contest by double DQ at 7:54
Rating: * – Good ring psychology until Jack took control, and then that went out the window, and the lame finish didn’t help tings either.

After the match Herc and Heenan beat down hayes, before we go backstage for an Okerlund interview with Bundy and… his two midget tag team parters for the next match.

Mixed Tag Team Match: King Kong Bundy, Little Tokyo & Lord Littlebrook vs. Hillbilly Jim, Little Beaver and The Haiti Kid

I really should be watching this match with Dr. Funk, because I’m not, because I’m concerned that the alcohol would affect my judgment in such a way that I’d give the match a better rating then it deserves. Anyway, to paraphrase Ka D’argo, a gimmick as stupid as Hillbilly Jim, has to be Vince’s.

So, Little Haiti and Little Tokyo start. We actually get some good chain wrestling between all 4 midget performers. Frankly, I’d rather see these guys wrestle the whole match then see Bundy and Jim wrestle. Finally, Bundy gets tagged in. Little Beaver is the legal man for Jim’s team at the moment, and he goes for a drop-kick on Bundy which bounces off, so Beaver tags in Jim. Jim hits Bundy with a big lariat, and all of his team tries to pin Bundy, but Bundy powers out. Jim gets Ricky Mortoned and Little Beaver tries to run in for the save, only to get a body slam and elbow drop by Bundy, for the DQ.

Winner: Team Jim by DQ at 4:15.
Rating: * – Another messy finish. The match was actually okay before Jim and Bundy got involved.

We go back stage again where Mary Hart tries to interview The Lovely Elizabeth, in what is perhaps the best use of a celebrity guest at a Wrestlemania. Before Elizabeth can answer any of her questions, Macho Man comes in and hogs the spotlight… and Mary stands up to him. Savage gets indignant and flummoxed by encountering an interviewer with intestinal fortitude, not to mention (in his in-character misogynist eyes) a female one, so he takes Elizabeth and storms off.

Loser Must Kneel Match: King Harley Race w/ Bobby “The Brain” Heenan and The Fabulous Moolah vs. Junkyard Dog

That’s right, we have the Woman’s champion appearing at Wrestlemania and not defending the title. Plus, with Moolah and Heenan at ringside, we’re going to see a lot of interference. We start out with Heenan distracting JYD allowing Race to get some quick offense. Race knocks JYD to the outside, and Race goes for a diving headbutt off the apron which misses. JYD takes control for a bit, and throws Race out of the ring about 3-4 times. Heenan distracts JYD one more time to allow Race to get back in control and hit a slam for 3.

Winner: King Harley Race by pinfall with a body slam at 3:24.
Rating: * – Not only was the finish not clean, but JYD got buried too.

After the match, JYD curtsies to Race, and then hits him with a steel chair thus, presumably, perpetuating the feud. We then go backstage to Vince McMahon for an Hulk Hogan Interview.

The Fabulous Rougeaus (Jacques & Raymond Rougeau) vs. The Dream Team (Brutus Beefcake & Greg “The Hammer Valentine) w/ Luscious Johnny Valiant & Dino Bravo

Raymond and Brutus start with some nice chain wrestling between both teams, with the Rougeaus doing an excellent job carrying Brutus. Jacques misses a springboard cross body allowing Greg to take control, and make Jacques the Ricky Morton. (Meanwhile, in the announce booth, Bobby Heenan joins us – making history as the first time he’s provided commentary for a match at Wrestlemania with Gorilla Monsoon).

Valentine tries to lock the figure 3 on Jacques, but Raymond makes the save. Valentine goes for a powerbomb, but gets it reversed into a back-drop and allowing Jacques to tag in Raymond. Raymond comes in and is a Casa! En! Fuego! Raymond locks a sleeper on Greg and Brutus goes up top for a flying double axe-handle to make the save but Raymond avoids it, causing it to hit Greg. The Rougeaus hit La Bombe Rougeau (Bear hug hold, seated senton combination) but Brutus and Johnny V distract the Ref and Jacques while Bravo breaks up the pin and rolls Greg on Raymond. Dino rolls out of the ring as the ref turns around and counts 3.

Winner: The Dream Team by pinfall through shenanigans at 4:02.
Rating: ** – I actually didn’t mind the messy finish this time, and only the length of the match prevented it from getting a 3rd star.

After the match, Luscious Johnny, Dino and Greg tell off Brutus and leave him alone in the ring, looking on in disbelief – presumably getting kicked out of the Dream Team. We then get a video package setting up the Hair vs. Hair match between Adonis and Piper.

Hair Vs. Hair Match: “Adorable” Adrian Adonis w/ “The Mouth of the South” Jimmy Hart vs. “Rowdy” Roddy Piper

This match is billed as Piper’s retirement match, with Piper giving up wrestling for his film career. Rather than ride to the ring in a cart, Piper jogs to the ring. Piper and Adonis start brawling right away, first with fists and kicks, and then with Piper’s belt. Adonis gets irish whipped to the turnbuckle and does an impressive (for his size) Flair Flip to the apron. Piper drags Adonis and Hart to the ring and starts cleaning house. Piper gets sprayed in the face with perfume by Hart and gets locked in a sleeper by Adonis. Adonis releases the hold prematurely and starts celebrating with Jimmy. Brutus Beefcake runs in, and revives Piper, allowing Piper to clean house one more time and lock a sleeper on to Adonis, who submits.

Winner: “Rowdy” Roddy Piper by submission with a Sleeper Hold at 6:44.
Rating: *** – decent match, the first one of the night.

After the match, Brutus shaves Adonis’ head, solidifying his face turn and sewing the seeds of the Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake character. We then go backstage to Okerlund and The Hart Foundation, and their pre-match interview.

Six Man Tag: The Hart Foundation (Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart & Bret “Hitman” Hart) and “Dangerous” Danny Davis w/ “The Mouth of the South” Jimmy Hart vs. The British Bulldogs (Davey Boy Smith & Dynamite Kid) and Tito Santana

Ventura goes down to ringside for this match while the guest commentators rejoin us in the booth.

The faces clean house early on, ultimately leading to Bret and Tito starting. Bret tries to make Tito the Ricky Morton, but Tito decides that role doesn’t suit him, so he tags in Davey Boy. Davey boy works over the heels before tagging in Dynamite, who finds that the roll of the Ricky Morton suits him much better. Dynamite gets worked over by all 3 heels, before managing to regain control by getting the knees up to block a slingshot attempt by the Hart Foundation and Davis (who is the legal man). Dynamite tags in Tito, who has wanted to get his hands on Davis for a year, and drills the bastard. Tito locks on the Figure 4, but Jim breaks it up. Tito tags in Davey Boy, who piledrives Danny, and then hits the running powerbomb to put an exclamation point on it. Jim breaks up the pin again, and all 6 men are in the ring. Jimmy Hart tosses the megaphone to Danny who clocks Davey Boy with it for the pin.

Winner: “Dangerous” Danny Davis by pinfall with a Foreign Object shot at 8:36.
Rating: *** – Not a clean finish again, but it’s a properly executed messy finish, so I can forgive them.

“The Natural” Butch Reed w/ Slick vs. “The Bird Man” Koko B. Ware

Koko’s bird looks absolutely terrified during his entrance – poor thing.
Koko drop kicks butch to the outside and tries to take control only to lose it quickly. They trade blows. Koko gets a 2-count off a drop kick, and then hits goes for a Cross-body only to have Butch roll through for the 3 count.

Winner: Butch Reed by pinfall at 3:37.
Rating: * – Nice start but they didn’t go anywhere with it.

After the match, Tito Santana runs in and Tito and Koko beat down Slick and Butch. We then get a video package for our next match – “Macho Man” Randy Savage vs. Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat!WWF Intercontinental Heavyweight Championship: “Macho Man” Randy Savage (c) w/ The Lovely Elizabeth (c) vs. Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat w/ George “The Animal” Steele
Steamboat and Macho Man lock up for some incredibly fast chain wrestling, leading into more even exchanges of offense (Savage beats on Steamboat for a bit, and vice versa). Savage gets a 2 count on what appears to be a shoulder drag. Steamboat gets a series of near-falls on Savage. Savages goes to throw Steamboat out of the ring, but Steamboat Skins The Cat! Eat your heart out, HBK! Savage spots this and then throws Steamboat back out. Savage follows Steamboat back out of the ring and throws Steamboat over the guardrail! Steele helps Steamboat back into the ring, only to Savage to throw him right back out again.

Savage goes up top and hits a double ax-handle to Steamboat on the floor, and then tosses Steamboat back into the ring, goes up top again, and then lands another one. Now savage gets a series of near-falls. Steamboat tosses Savage to the outside with a big back drop. Steamboat tosses savage back in and hits a flying forearm for 2, leading into another series of near-falls. Savage sends steamboat shoulder-first into the ring post, Savage reverses a reversed Irish whip (making it, to those who play Disgaea, a counter-counter), sending Steamboat into referee Dave Hebner, knocking him out, and giving us the first (and only) ref bump of the night.

Savage goes up top, and connects with the flying elbow, but the ref is still out. Savage goes to revive but fails, so he rolls out of the ring, and grabs the time-keeper’s bell for an encore performance of when he crushed Steamboat’s larynx. Steele tries to grab the bell away from him but fails, so Steele settles for shoving Savage off the top rope instead. As Dave has revived, Savage decides to go for a body-slam instead, but Steamboat reverses it into a small package for the 3 count.

Winner: and NEW WWF Intercontinental Champion Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat by pinfall with a small package at 14:38.
Rating: ***** – Very good match, a lot of energy, a lot of psychology, and a lot of emotion going into it. This is, beyond a doubt, one of the best matches in the history of the WWF.

After the match, we go backstage to Jake “The Snake” Roberts with his manager, Alice Cooper, as he swears vengeance on Honky Tonk Man & Jimmy Hart.

Jake “The Snake” Roberts w/ Alice Cooper vs. The Honky Tonk Man w/ Col. Jimmy Hart

Robers blindsides HTM while he’s dancing on the apron. Roberts beats Honky from pillar to post until HTM gets a thumb to the eye and starts building up some momentum of his own. Roberts and Honky trade offense back-and-forth in a match that is shaping up to become a Pier 6 Brawl. HTM pouts the crud out of Jake and signals for the Shake, Rattle & Roll (reverse neckbreaker) before Jake reverses it into a back drop. HTM hits 3 mounted punches before Jake reverses the setup into an inverted atomic drop. Jake goes for the DDT but Hart grabs his ankle to block it, and HTM gets the pin using the ropes for leverage.

Winner: Honky Tonk Man by pinfall with a sneaky pin at 7:15.
Rating: ** – The match had potential and needed more time, and a finish that wasn’t as abrupt or anti-climactic.

After the match, Alice gets Honky’s guitar away from Jimmy and gives it to Jake, who nearly decapitates Honky with it. Jimmy Hart gets beat down before both he and Honky flee to the back.

Nikolai Volkoff and The Iron Sheik w/ Slick vs. The Killer Bees

Before the match, when Volkoff goes to sing the Russian national anthem, “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan runs in, 2×4 in hand, to stop him from singing, because “America is the land of the free and the home of the brave!” Somehow, this leads to the song from Team America World Police popping in my head, as well as a sudden craving for the 🙄 smiley.

Volkoff and the Sheik start beating down the Bees first, before the Bees turn the tables on them. Finally, we get this down to 2 men in the ring – Sheik and Bronzell. the Bees get even offense between the two of them, with Bronzell getting a 2-count off a drop kick, until Bronzell finally discovers his true calling as a Ricky Morton. The Sheik gets a 2-count off of a suplex, as Duggan gives up pestering Slick, and decides to chase Volkoff around the ring instead. Volkoff cuts through the ring as the Iron Sheik locks Bronzell in the Camel Cluch. Somehow Duggan gets flummoxed and decides to clock the first anti-american heel he sees, the Sheik – thus causing the DQ.

Winner: The Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff by DQ, because “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan is an idiot, at 5:32.
Rating: * – I’d call this Russo-riffic, but Russo’s finishes make more sense.

After the match, Duggan declares “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, if you won’t play by the rules, neither will we!” IIRC, the heels didn’t actually cheat this match! Furthermore, to my surprise, The Bees aren’t upset with Duggan costing them the match. Then again, they probably don’t want people thinking they hate freedom.

We then go to Gene Okerlund backstage first with Andre and Heenan, and then with Hogan, setting up our main event, and finally to Howard Finkel, who introduces Bob Uecker and Mary Hart as our guest announcer and time-keeper respectively, leading finally, to our Main Event –

World Wrestling Federation Heavyweight Championship: Hulk Hogan (c) vs. Andre The Giant w/ Bobby “The Brain” Heenan

The Irresistible Force seems reluctant to lay hands on his old friend, the Immovable Object. So, Andre shoves him first, leading to offense with a shove of his own and then some. Hogan tries to slam Andre but collapses with Andre on top of him for a 2 count. Andre pouts the crap out of hogan, slamming him repeatedly, walking on Hogan, and basically employing the “Book of Tactics For The Highly Successful Giant Heel Wrestler” by Andre T. Giant. Hulk’s offense (for the moment) has been literally shut down. . Andres goes for a big headbutt in the corner but Hogan slips out of the way and Andre’s cranium meets the turnbuckle pad.

Hogan delivers a big series of strikes to Andre, and goes for the big turnbuckle clothesline, before getting hit with a big boot. Andre locks Hogan in a bear hug, but Hogan powers out after a few minutes of the rest hold. Hogan and Andre take the fight to ringside, with Hogan taking up some of the mat and going for a piledriver on the concrete, with Andre reversing the move into a back-drop. Andre whips Hogan to one of the ring posts, and then goes for a head-butt on the ring post, but again Andre moves out of the way. Hogan and Andre move back into the ring. Andre whips Hogan and goes for the big boot, but Hogan avoids it and then clotheslines Andre. Hogan hulks up, hits the body-slam, and then the leg drop for 3.

Winner: Hulk Hogan by pinfall with the Hogan Leg Drop at 12:00
Rating: *** – The workrate was crap, but the psychology was there and almost made up for it. The feud between Hogan and Andre was far from over though.

Overall rating for Wrestlemania III: *** – The celebrity guests actually didn’t stink up the joint, and we had much more good matches. Hell, Steamboat vs Savage just about earns the event a point right there. I would say that Wrestlemania 3 is the first Wrestlemania that didn’t suck outright. So, in about a week, we move on to Wrestlemania IV – where we see if they can keep up the good work.

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