The Mania of March- The Spotlight on Wrestlemania 4

WrestleMania 4:

A lot of people don’t seem to look back as fondly when it comes to  Wrestlemania 4, for whatever reason, but to me it was great for a few reasons.  First, obviously I’ve said in the past what a big fan I am of gimmick matches and these include tournaments.  To me, there was always something pretty cool about seeing a wrestler have to compete three or four times in one night especially if that wrestler was versatile like a Bret Hart or, as was in this case, a Randy Savage.  From there, I also think that in looking back at this show, it was pretty cool to see Randy Savage get the spotlight.  It was all about Hulk Hogan in late 1980s WWF and so it had to be pretty shocking to see him and Andre get eliminated early.

As a bonus gimmick match there was also a battle royal on this show and I’m a huge fan of battle royals.   I remember the first time I saw this show, which was not live as I was still just a toddler, being surprised Bret Hart made it all the way to the final two and got a chance to shine.  Bret was still a part of the Hart Foundation for a few years after this and it was rare that a tag team specialist would get a chance to shine on his own at the time.

As a bit of a personal story related to Wrestlemania 4, as many of you know, the show was four hours long (This, just like the tournament, was one of the real promotional points of the show). Since it was so long, the coliseum home video of the show featured two different video tapes to accommodate the length of the show.  One day I was at a friend’s house and I offered to trade him one of my tapes for his copy of Wrestlemania 4, we were probably about 7 years old at the time, as I had never seen Mania 4.  I had heard that there was a tournament and a battle royal on this show and thought immediately that this would be the show for me.  Well, he gave me the tape but it ended up being only the first part of Wrestlemania 4.  I never realized this until I got home and watched the show only to see the second half was missing entirely and what’s funny is I didn’t know about this until the tape abruptly shut off midway through the show.   I kept rewinding the tape and cleaning assuming that there must have been something wrong.  Where were the finals of the tournament?   I actually had my mother call his mother to tell her son he gave me a broken tape.  Suddenly my friend laughed and admitted he didn’t give me part two and was screwing me.  And you thought the Montreal Screwjob was bad? He admitted that he wanted both my tape and the only parts of Wrestlemania 4 to really mean anything, the semi finals and the finals of the tournament.  Even though this upset me a bit, I still watched the first part of that Wrestlemania dozens of times if for nothing else but the Battle Royal.

What I also remember during this time was that I got my first ever WWF board game (This may have been a year or two later but it focused a lot on the time period of Wrestlemanias 3 and 4).  It was called the Wrestlemania VCR board game and it was pretty cool.  You would move around the game board and in doing so would eventually end up on a VCR square.  You would then turn on the tape and there would be able a 30 second clip of a match.  Whoever landed on the square would get to choose which wrestler they wanted in the clip and then whichever wrestler gained the upper hand during the clip, that player would get to move space.  So let’s say it was Hulk Hogan for the red team and Randy Savage for the blue team so you pick Hulk Hogan and in the clip he hits a legdrop and gets a pinfall victory, you would move up 10 spaces.  I played this game with my poor mother at least 100 times until we eventually memorized the tape inside and out.

Well that’s going to do it for me today but be sure to check out my review of Wrestlemania 5, coming up later today.  Until then take care and please feel free to share some of your favorite moments of Wrestlemania 4!

All Photo Credit: WWE

The Mania of March- The Spotlight On Wrestlemania 2

Wrestlemania 2: 

Welcome to day two of our comprehensive 31 Wrestlemanias in 31 days through the month of March.  Today we’re going to take a look at Wrestlemania 2 which was final Wrestlemania to take place prior to my birth as I was born later this year in October of 1986.  When I think about Wrestlemania 2 the first thing that comes to mind was the fact that this show took place over 3 venues.  The first four matches on the show took place in New York (Nassau Coliseum actually) than the next four matches took place in Chicago and then the final four matches took place in Los Angeles.  It was an interesting idea at the time and a pretty ingenious way to make money.  Production for this event had to be wild in order to pull that off.  There are so many things that can go wrong with live event production when broadcasting from one venue, let alone three. I always thought that this could be an interesting idea to try again but it will never happen this day in age where Wrestlemania takes over a city that has been bidding on it for, sometimes, years.

The way that this was that each venue had their own “Main Event” and then the fans would stay in the venue and watch the rest of the show on big screen monitors. The first venue was New york and was headlined by a boxing match between Roddy Piper and Mr. T.  From there the Chicago portion was main evented by the tag title match between the British Bulldogs and The Dream Team.  (Before you correct me, I know that the 20 man battle royal was more of the headline match in Chicago and is often remembered as Chicago’s main event but the tag title change ended the Chicago Portion of the show.  Lastly, the Los Angeles portion of the show featured the main event of the entire Wrestlemania, Hulk Hogan defending the world title in a steel cage against King Kong Bundy.

This was also during the time period in which celebrities played such a big part of Wrestlemania.  As with today’s Wrestlemanias you might hear a casual fan who hasn’t been watching in quite sometime ask what the top matches at Wrestlemania are, those same casual fans had to have been asking which celebrities were going to be at Wrestlemania.  I mean on this Wrestlemania alone, if you include the NFL players who participated in the Battle Royal, there were over 25 celebrities who appeared at this Wrestlemania.  It was absolute who’s who of celebrities which featured everyone from Ozzy Osbourne to Joan Rivers and even the old Burger King guy, “Herb”! What we did get out of this was, however, was my personal favorite rendition of America The Beautiful ( and also the first time in which America The Beautiful was performed at Wrestlemania all together) ever performed at Wrestlemania, that by the late great Ray Charles!

Photo Credit: WWE

The One Match You Should See:

For me the answer here is the battle royal (I love battle royals), and it’s tough because the tag title match between the British Bulldogs and the Dream Team is a great match with a finish that the crowd absolutely loved.  That said when you mention Wrestlemania 3, the thing that immediately come to mind would be the involvement of the NFL players, especially members of the Chicago Bears in Chicago fresh off winning a superbowl.   It’s crazy to go back and think about the fact that you had active, pro bowl caliber players like Refrigerator Perry in a battle royal with hall of fame level WWE Superstars like Andre The Giant.  Could you imagine if in the Andre The Giant Memorial BattleRoyal you had JJ Watt and Demarcus Ware? It would never happen!  The crowd was so hot for the Chicago Bear players that I actually think the WWF should have made the call to have Refrigerator Perry win the match outright, even if this would mean that Andre would lose a battle royal for the first time ever.  The crowd would have just went completely wild for a Perry win.  What this did lead to for Perry was a memorable moment of him dumping Big John Studd and would later lead to his induction into the celebrity wing of the WWF Hall Of Fame (an induction, mind you, that John Cena presented Perry with leading to the first time I can really remember a crowd completely turning on him).  One last note on the Battle Royal, this was the only match in Wrestlemania history that WWE legends/ hall of famers Pedro Morales and Bruno Sammartino competed in.

Well that’s going to do it for today but I’ll be back real soon with my look back at WrestleMania 3!