WrestleMania V review

By Linden Walker

Proving that not learning from their mistakes is hardly a new phenomenon, we head back to Trump Plaza, in Atlantic City for Wrestlemania V. Hogan left to make that classic of the American cinema known as No Holds Barred and gave Savage a run as the top face. When Hogan returned coincided with Savage’s drawing power slipping a heel turn was put in motion and the Mega-Powers exploded. This lead to a strange situation where you had a month of heel vs. heel matches at the house shows when Savage defended the title against Bad News Brown. Anyway, here we go and the bad ideas come fast and furious.

Rockin’Robin sings America the Beautiful – Wow, what Simon Cowell could do with this performance. She was the Women’s Champion and they had to work her into the show. This was not the right decision.

King Haku w/Bobby Heenan vs. Hercules – This was the result of a very tasteful angle where Bobby Heenan tried to sell Hercules to Ted DiBiase to be his slave. Apparently, the Emancipation Proclamation does not apply in the WWF. Just ask Howard Finkel. So Hercules turned baby face and vowed to destroy the Heenan Family. He did not succeed. Haku was the new King, replacing Harley Race who suffered a punctured intestine after someone bought an oak table and then didn’t gimmick it for him to go through during a SNME match with Hogan. Haku was given the role after suddenly finding himself a single after Tama’s abrupt departure. This is so not what you should want from an opener, in terms of pumping up a crowd. Back suplex and both men are down and then the ref counts 3 and Hercules’ music plays. How they knew to play that when they both seemed to have been pinned and there was no announcement made is beyond me. I’m wondering if that match was on the level. At least we know the title matches are real.

Mean Gene interviews the Rockers – Something is wrong with Shawn’s voice. I think he’s stoned because he’s acting goofy as hell.

Twin Towers w/Slick vs. Rockers – Some of the most generic music ever plays instead of Jive Soul Bro. That’s a crime right there. The One Man Gang had been repackaged as Akeem in one of the most racist skits ever (Deepest, darkest Africa is actually a ghetto and it gets worse from there). The whole gimmick of “The African Dream”, a fat white guy who thinks he’s black was an obvious goof on the guy who was booking for Crockett at the time, if you will. Marty works most of the match building to the hot tag to Shawn. Rockers double team Akeem until the Dream nearly rips Shawn’s head off with a clothesline. Bossman is in, and the Rockers resume their double teaming. Akeem has a map of Africa (which says “Africa” in the middle) on his back, just in case he gets lost. In the WWF, a big man always beats a little man and Akeem ends up squashing Shawm with a big splash. This was a good little tag match.

Tony Schavonie interviews Virgil & Ted DiBiase – Tony still sounds like “NWA Tony” rather than the beaten, going through the motions “WCW Tony” that he would become later.

Ted DiBiase w/Virgil vs. Brutus Beefcake –DiBiase shakes hands with Donald Trump before the match. When the UWF folded, DiBiase went to work in Japan. When he returned he was due to sign with Crockett and move to the NWA. Vince McMahon called him and made him an offer, saying that he had an idea. The problem was, at that time there was still no guaranteed money in WWF contracts and Crockett was offering a guarantee. So DiBiase, in a smart move, called Terry Funk for advice. Funk told him that if Vince McMahon had an idea especially for him he should listen. He did and when he called Funk back and laid it out for him Funk said that the gimmick was that Ted was going to be Vince McMahon. As a result he’d get pushed to the moon because Vince would never let that gimmick fail. He was right, Ted went and the rest is history. For the first half of this match the crowd is so quiet that you can hear an echo after every bump. They end up going to a double count out as Beefcake was being protected for his big face push later that year.

Lord Al Hayes reports from the annual Wrestlemania brunch where the Bushwackers eat in a sloppy fashion – Did anyone ever find this stuff funny?

Rougeaus vs. Bushwackers – I will never understand the thought process behind the Bushwackers. How anyone saw the Sheepherders in all those bloody wild brawls and thought they would make a great goofy kids comedy team is beyond me? As with everything involving the Bushwackers, this sucks big time.

Mr. Perfect vs. Blue Blazer – Owen’s original gimmick name was the Blue Angel. He actually grew to hate the gimmick so much that they pitched an idea where Tim Horner would take over as the Blazer and Owen would go to Japan, then return and feud with the Blazer. Vince didn’t go for it and both guys left. Horner tried to do it in WCW as the Star Blazer but it didn’t work at all. As for Hennig, this was actually his 2nd WWF stint, as he did jobs as an opening match baby face teaming with a young Eddie Gilbert in 1981-82. This is predictably really good and way too short. Owen busts out a crucifix for 2, argues with the ref and gets taken out with a wicked clothesline. Perfect-plex finishes. Good stuff here but would it have killed them to give these guys 10-12 minutes at Mania?

Howard Finkel introduces Jesse Ventura

Lord Al reports from the Wrestlemania 5K boardwalk run. It’s a classic wacky skit as Mr. Fuji does the race in full tuxedo.

Run DMC is out to perform the official WrestleMania Rap – If you want to know why to this day, I couldn’t give two shits what the official theme song of WrestleMania (or any other PPV) is just flashback to this moment.

Mean Gene interviews Demolition

Powers of Pain & Mr. Fuji vs. Demolition in a Handicapped Match for the WWF Tag Team Titles – They screw up and start and stop Demolition’s music before Fuji is introduced. More generic dubbed over intro music for Demolition. How did the WWF lose the rights to their own music? Can someone explain that one to me? This was as a result of the double turn at the Survivor Series. Fuji is still in his 70’s ring gear and still doing the ceremonial salt ceremony gimmick. Both of these teams were here out of Vince’s desire and failure to lure away the Road Warriors. Then when he got them, he screwed it up. Anyway, they build to Fuji getting in and then he, in a moment of continuity, goes to do the salt in the face gimmick that he used to win the tag titles with Saito over Garea & Martel 7 years earlier. However, Demolition knows all of Fuji’s dirty tricks so Smash ducks and the salt hits the Warlord like a pizza truck and Demolition finishes to keep the belts.

Dino Bravo w/Frenchy Martin vs. Rugged Ronnie Garvin – Before the match, Finkel makes a special announcement …. The surprise return of Jimmy Snuka. This caused a massive pop in my den amongst us watching on PPV at the time. As for the match, they are fighting over the rights to who is the greatest French Canadian wrestler of the spring of 1979. Garvin was just coasting through the mid card on the coat tails of his ludicrous NWA Title win. Side suplex gets the win for Bravo. After the match Garvin knocks out and then stomps Frenchy Martin. Frenchy Martin was the long time tag partner of Rick Martel’s older brother.

Brain Busters w/Bobby Heenan vs. Strike Force – This is the big return of the Force. Tito Santana and Tully Blanchard went to college together at West Texas State. It builds to a tag but Tito goes for a flying forearm on Tully who drops down and Tito nails Martel who falls to the floor. Martel keeps selling the blow being that he was hit with Tito’s finisher and all. Santana needs the hot tag and Martel just walks out. Suddenly, and for the first time on this show, something is getting heat. Brain Busters overwhelm Tito and finish him with the spike pile driver. This was good. ***

Mean Gene interviews Rick Martel – Mean Gene is OUTRAGED at his actions. He wanted to be a single but Tito wanted to keep riding his coat tails but screwed up his timing. The real story is that Martel wanted to return as a heel because he was bored after being a face for the past 15+ years.

Piper’s Pit w/guests Brother Love & Morton Downey Jr. – Brother Love is out first and he does a pretty good Piper impression. His brother does a better one. Morton Downey Jr. is out next. He was a talk show host who would be rude and nasty with his guests telling them to shut up and getting in their faces. Think of Andrew Dice Clay hosting Jerry Springer. Piper is out making his long awaited return from “retirement”. Piper shows his tremendous connection to popular culture by immediately making a Bette Davis reference. Piper than moves on to Downey for more attempted “comedy”. Morton keeps blowing smoke in Piper’s face. Piper then uses the phrase “that’s mighty white of you”, thus continuing his streak of working something racist into every Pit. So then we get to the pay off which is his spraying Downey with a fire extinguisher. This was awful.

Mean Gene announces Hulk Hogan starring in No Holds Barred and shows a clip! I still don’t think I’ve ever seen the whole thing.

Sean Mooney interviews Donald Trump – He basically says that he’s putting up with it because it brought a lot of people into the casino.

Jesse Ventura cuts a promo on Hogan for having the nerve to make a movie and step on his turf. Monsoon looks super groovy in his blue tinted shades. Where did he find his tuxedos?

Mean Gene interviews Hulk Hogan

Andre the Giant vs. Jake Roberts with Special Referee Big John Studd – Studd returned as a baby face to go around the horn with Andre again. It was 5 years later and both were so out of shape that it was brutal. Studd didn’t last and ended up retiring yet again. They were doing a silly angle where Andre was suddenly afraid of snakes so Jake decided to do the classic baby face thing and be a total dick torturing him with Damien. They even acted as if Andre was so scared that he had a heart attack at one point. The turnbuckle magically disappears and Andre uses it at the start for the advantage. As has become custom, Andre sits and rests early. DiBiase runs out and steals the snake and then Andre chokes out Studd to start two new programs for post Mania. This was hideous.

Sean Mooney interviews some random fan who just yells “Jake’s the best”. Yeah, until you ask him to share his shit.

Tony Schavonie interviews Sensational Sherri who runs down Rockin’ Robin and Elizabeth.

Honky Tonk Man & Greg Valentine w/Jimmy Hart vs. Hart Foundation – No black hair for the Hammer or Rhythm & Blues name yet. Monsoon discusses the amount of time it takes Greg Valentine to get warmed up. Some things never change. A discussion of HTM’s IC title reign leads to some shots at Pat Patterson. Harts win a nothing match by using Jimmy Hart’s megaphone against his own team.

Clip from Rick Rude attacking the Warrior during their Royal Rumble pose down. You have to love it when Jesse points out that the un-athletic Warrior almost fell down while posing.

Rick Rude w/Bobby Heenan vs. Ultimate Warrior for the IC Title – Warrior runs out, does some clotheslines and blows himself up, so he settles in for a bear hug. Some back and forth mostly with the Warrior on (shitty) offense. He goes to suplex Rude in from the outside and Heenan pulls the leg and holds it from the floor in order to give Rude the win and the title. Warrior, instead of acting despondent at the loss, chases Rude up the stairs as his music plays.

Bad News Brown vs. Hacksaw Duggan – Don’t ask me what they were fighting over, as I’ve lost that information to history. In fact, I had no memory of these guys even working this show. It’s quick and ends with them dueling with a chair vs. 2x4.

Bobby Heenan w/Brooklyn Brawler vs. Red Rooster – Heenan is still selling his earlier beating at the hands of the Warrior. Quick match where Heenan misses a charge into the corner and hits his shoulder on the post to get pinned. This was not exactly putting Taylor over because it was a pretty cheap way to beat a manager. They booked it to where Heenan screwed up rather than Taylor beating him. The Brawler jumps the Rooster in the post match.

Mean Gene interviews Miss Elizabeth--she…takes…long…pauses...between…sentences.

Randy Savage vs. Hulk Hogan for the WWF Title – Elizabeth is in a neutral corner. Hogan and Savage broke up when Hogan took on Liz as his manager too, and Savage got jealous. They keep saying “The Mega-Powers explode” but they don’t mean it in that WSX way. Jesse gets all pissed off because Hogan comes out last despite Savage being the champion. He’s got a valid point there. Finally, after this 3 day marathon show is almost over, we get a decent match. Hogan juices above the eye. Liz steps in front when Hogan is going to ram Savage in the eye but Hogan ends up eating the steel instead. The referee deems Liz a distraction and sends her to the back. Back in the ring and it’s a bunch of punches, big boot, leg drop, total lack of creativity, and the pin and title for Hogan. ***

What can you say about a WrestleMania so boring that the only way to watch it is to break it up over two days? Just a hideous show on all levels. Next time you can’t fall asleep, throw this one in the DVD player. Thankfully, on the next one the atmosphere would improve greatly.

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