WRESTLEMANIA III

THREE GUYS AND… RETRO WRESTLING

series created by Marvin Mercer and Nick Stephenson

“WRESTLEMANIA III”

written by Dominick Cappello

March 29, 1987
The Silverdome
Pontiac, Michigan

***

– WWF Championship Match:
Hulk Hogan (c) vs. Andre the Giant (w/ Bobby “The Brain” Heenan)

– Intercontinental Championship Match:
“Macho Man” Randy Savage (c) (w/ Miss Elizabeth) vs.
Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat (w/ George “The Animal” Steele)

– King Harley Race (w/ Bobby “The Brain” Heenan & The Fabulous Moolah) vs. The Junk Yard Dog

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

– “Rowdy” Roddy Piper vs. “Adorable” Adrian Adonis (w/ Jimmy Hart)

– The British Bulldogs & Tito Santana vs.
The Hart Foundation (WWF Tag Team Champions) & “Dangerous” Danny Davis (w/ Jimmy Hart)

– Hercules Hernandez (w/ Bobby “The Brain” Heenan) vs. Billy Jack Haynes

– “The Natural” Butch Reed (w/ Slick) vs. Koko B. Ware

– The Iron Sheik & Nikolai Volkoff (w/ Slick) vs. The Killer Bees

– The Dream Team (w/ “Luscious” Johnny V & Dino Bravo) vs. The Fabulous Rougeaus

– “The Magnificent” Don Muraco & “Cowboy” Bob Orton (w/ Mr. Fuji) vs. The Can-Am Connection

– King Kong Bundy, Little Tokyo, & Lord Littlebrook vs. Hillbilly Jim, The Haiti Kid, & Little Beaver

***

DR JELLY

POSITIVE:
Bigger. Badder. Better. Over 93,000 fans in attendance. The pinnacle of Hulkamania. On an recent edition of Piper’s Pit, Andre the Giant, who had been billed as undefeated for fifteen years, shocked the world by confronting “The Immortal” Hulk Hogan with Bobby “The Brain” Heenan by his side. According to Bobby Heenan, Andre was no longer content being the resident gentle giant and wanted an opportunity to become the WWF Champion. The Hulkster could not believe that his friend and mentor had aligned himself with the so-called weasel. The Giant made sure that the champion knew he meant business by ripping the crucifix off of his chest. “Rowdy” Roddy Piper pressed his former arch nemesis and Hulk Hogan agreed to the title match. It would be the irresistible force meeting the immovable object at the Silverdome.

To start the show, Vince McMahon introduced Aretha Franklin, who sang “America the Beautiful.” Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse “The Body” Ventura were joined by “Mr. Baseball” Bob Uecker and Mary Hart from Entertainment Tonight. In the opening match, The Can-Am Connection (Rick Martel & Tom Zenk) defeated “The Magnificent” Don Muraco & “Cowboy” Bob Orton. Hercules Hernandez vs. Billy Jack Haynes was to determine who had the best full-nelson in all of the WWF. This was the first match of the show to involve Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, who had busy day. Several members of The Heenan Family were in action. Gorilla Monsoon implied that Hercules stole the full-nelson from Billy Jack Haynes. The match ended in a draw. A double count out. But, Hercules had the last laugh, busting his opponent wide open with a steel chain.

The next match was King Kong Bundy, Little Tokyo, & Lord Littlebrook vs. Hillbilly Jim, The Haiti Kid, & Little Beaver. A clear step back career wise for King Kong Bundy, who had been in the main event of last year’s WrestleMania. King Kong Bundy was disqualified for slamming and elbow dropping one of his diminutive opponents, which was against the rules of the match. Mary Hart interviewed the lovely Miss Elizabeth, but “Macho Man” Randy Savage, being so manically paranoid, was quick to steal the spotlight from his manager. Harley Race, former NWA World Heavyweight Champion, was making his first appearance on a WWF produced pay-per-view. He was billed as the king of wrestling. The Fabulous Moolah was billed as the queen of wrestling. The stipulation of the match between King Harley Race and The Junk Yard Dog was that the loser had to bow down to the winner. Harley Race was victorious, but instead of bowing, JYD used a steal chair to cheap-shot him. Vince McMahon then interviewed Hulk Hogan, who contemplated the end of Hulkamania and his reign as WWF Champion. The Hulkster proclaimed that Andre the Giant was the true underdog in this match because it would Andre the Giant vs. him and all of the Hulkamaniacs around the world.

The Dream Team (Greg “The Hammer” Valentine & Brutus Beefcake) defeated The Fabulous Rougeaus (Jacques & Raymond) with outside interference from Dino Bravo, who claimed to be Canada’s strongest man. For reasons not fully explained, Dino Bravo joined The Dream Team and Brutus Beefcake was given the boot. It all happened pretty fast. I wasn’t sure what was going on. Either way, on to the next contest, which was billed as “Rowdy” Roddy Piper’s farewell match. “Adorable” Adrian Adonis had created an interview segment called The Flower Shop that was suppose to take the place of Piper’s Pit. The Hot Rod did not appreciate being usurped, so he destroyed The Flower Shop set. No retreat and no surrender is the credo that Roddy Piper lives by. Both he and “Adorable” Adrian Adonis used the sleeper hold as their finishing maneuver. Also, there was an added stipulation. The loser would have his head shaved bald. As per usual with Roddy Piper’s bouts, this match was pretty chaotic. After a few minutes of brawling and plenty of outside interference from Jimmy Hart, Brutus Beefcake returned and Roddy Piper secured the victory with his patented sleeper hold. After the match, it was Brutus Beefcake who shaved the head of Adrian Adonis. He would then be known as Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake for the rest of his WWF career. Roddy Piper received a standing ovation from the 93,000 fans in attendance. Happily, his sabbatical would only last for two years.

Needing his ego satiated, Jesse “The Body” Ventura demanded that he be introduced by Howard Finkel before the six man tag team match. The Hart Foundation (Bret “The Hitman” Hart & Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart) & “Dangerous” Danny Davis vs. The British Bulldogs (Davey Boy Smith & The Dynamite Kid) & Tito Santana. Danny Davis was a crooked referee responsible for “Macho Man” Randy Savage defeating Tito Santana for the Intercontinental Championship and The Hart Foundation defeating The British Bulldogs for the Tag Team Titles. Before the match began, Jesse Ventura dog-napped Matilda, the mascot for The British Bulldogs. Even though he had no in-ring experience, Danny Davis scored the winning pin-fall after clobbering Davey Boy Smith with Jimmy Hart’s megaphone. “Mean” Gene Okerlund interviewed Andre the Giant and Bobby Heenan. The Giant remained silent, but The Brain guaranteed victory. “The Natural” Butch Reed defeated Koko B. Ware, pinning him by pulling his tights. After the match, Tito Santana, still sore about losing his match, attacked Butch Reed’s stylish manager, The Slickster.

History beckons The Macho Man! We have reached our moment! “Macho Man” Randy Savage vs. Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat for the Intercontinental Championship was not only the match of the night, but also set the tone for what fans would see in the 1990s in terms of fast paced, aggressive matches with the likes of Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels. It also inspired a generation of future superstars such as “Y2J” Chris Jericho to enter the business. George “The Animal” Steele, who had faced The Macho Man at WrestleMania II, was in the corner of The Dragon. At the conclusion of this highly competitive match, Randy Savage attempted to use the ring bell as a weapon, but George Steele shoved him off of the top turnbuckle. Ricky Steamboat then pinned Randy Savage with a modified small package to win the prestigious Intercontinental Championship. History was indeed made.

The Honky Tonk Man defeated Jake “The Snake” Roberts, pinning him while holding the top rope. The referee must have been farsighted. Rockstar Alice Cooper was in the corner of Jake Roberts. The Honky Tonk Man also avoided being struck with his own guitar. Jimmy Hart, who when managing The Honky Tonk Man was known as the colonel, had to go face-to-face with Damien. Needless to say, he squirmed feebly like a sniveling little coward until The Honky Tonk Man retrieved him and they both got out of dodge. “Mean” Gene Okerlund then announced the attendance. 93,173. A brand new indoor attendance record. Give yourselves a big hand. For the third year in row, we were treated to the vocal styles of Nikolai Volkoff. The Iron Sheik & Nikolai Volkoff, The Un-Americans, defeated The Killer Bees (“Jumping” Jim Brunzell & B. Brian Blair) via disqualification after blatant outside interference from “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, who struck The Iron Sheik with his trusty 2×4 piece of lumber. The Killer Bees were oddly cool with “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan costing them a match.

WrestleMania III featured the biggest main event of all time. The Immortal One vs. The Eighth Wonder of the World. Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant for the WWF Championship. The first two WrestleManias were sold on special guest celebrities whereas this WrestleMania was sold on the main event. Bobby Heenan dressed up for the occasion. A white jacket with gold trim. It was to be his crowning moment. WWF President Jack Tunney had already manufactured an extra-large WWF Championship belt for Andre the Giant since he was the odds-on-favorite. The Hulkster was the underdog for the first time ever. The challenger and his manager were pelted with trash as they made their entrance. They felt betrayed by Andre the Giant. Hulk Hogan went for a bodyslam early in the bout, but the weight of Andre the Giant was too much for him and he almost pinned himself. The Giant then dominated the match, setting a methodical pace. As the Hulkamaniacs have come to expect time and time again, Hulk Hogan eventually rallied and body slammed his massive challenger. It was pro wrestling’s version of the shot heard around the world. After an atomic leg-drop, Hulk Hogan was able to pin Andre the Giant and retain the WWF Championship. The torch was passed from one icon to another. Andre the Giant and Bobby Heenan left the Silverdome in disbelief, believing incorrectly that it was all but certain they were going to win the title. Hulkamania will live forever after perhaps the greatest WrestleMania of all time.

– Dr. Jelly

DR FRISBEE

NEGATIVE:
Over 93,000 fans in attendance? Bullshit. More like 78,000. Vincent K. McMahon, being his usual salted caramel self, has been lying through his teeth for years and some people actually report 93,000 fans as if it were a fact. In the opening match, Rick Martel and some weird Rick Martel clone called Tom Zenk defeated “The Magnificent” Don Muraco & “Cowboy” Bob Orton. Hercules Hernandez vs. Billy Jack Haynes was to determine who took the most steroids. There was nothing too natural about their physiques.

King Kong Bundy, Little Tokyo, & Lord Littlebrook vs. Hillbilly Jim, The Haiti Kid, & Little Beaver was actually inferior to similar match that occurred at Survivor Series 1994. Doink the Clown, Dink, Wink, & Pink vs. Jerry “The King” Lawler, Cheesy, Queasy, & Sleazy. At least that match was good for a laugh. King Kong Bundy? What the hell happened? He was in the main event of WrestleMania II. Now look at what he’s been reduced to. Though he was a member of The Heenan Family, Bobby “The Brain” Heenan wanted nothing to do with this match. Can you blame him? Why sully his good name?

“Mr. Baseball” Bob Uecker revealed that he was attracted to The Fabulous Moolah. Really? Okay, well, I guess that they were just about the same age. King Harley Race and The Junk Yard Dog are two legends of pro wrestling, but their match didn’t showcase much athleticism. Harley Race, who was clearly past his prime, was also known as “Handsome” Harley Race. Handsome? He’s from Missouri. Is he what qualifies as handsome in Missouri? Brutus Beefcake was involved in one of the most rushed face turns of all time. Dino Bravo interfered in the match between The Dream Team and The Fabulous Rougeaus, but that did not please Brutus Beefcake for whatever reason, then he seemed to be kicked out of The Dream Team without any explanation. Why did he turn face? It just happened way too quickly.

“Rowdy” Roddy Piper vs. “Adorable” Adrian Adonis was billed as Roddy Piper’s retirement match. As usual, there was nothing much to this Roddy Piper match beyond brawling. After this mess of a match was mercifully over. Brutus Beefcake inexplicably returned and gave Adrian Adonis an unwanted haircut. So, Hulk Hogan’s BFF (a.k.a. boot-licker) now had the hokey gimmick that would make him famous. And what of Roddy Piper retiring? Well, spoiler alert, he had a match at WrestleMania XXV. He was still wrestling 22 years later.

The Hart Foundation, who were the WWF Tag Team Champions, competed in a six man tag team match, so the titles were not on the line at WrestleMania III. They defeated The British Bulldogs & Tito Santana. But, who scored the winning pin-fall? “Dangerous” Danny Davis, a man who was not even a wrestler. Talk about a waste of time for Bret “The Hitman” Hart. “The Natural” Butch Reed vs. Koko B. Ware? Who cares? All this match did was give Jesse “The Body” Ventura an opportunity to tell some racist jokes. Okay, even I’ll admit that “Macho Man” Randy Savage vs. Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat for the Intercontinental Championship was pretty good. Tame by today’s standards as Dr. Jelly would say, but a match that could still get someone hooked on pro wrestling.

My neck was sore by the time I had to sit through Jake “The Snake” Roberts vs. The Honky Tonk Man and The Iron Sheik & Nikolai Volkoff vs. The Killer Bees. You know that you’re not enjoying yourself when you start rooting for The Iron Sheik out of spite. But, I guess that I should perk up for Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant seeing how this is the match that allegedly set a new indoor attendance record. Right off the bat, the match starts with maybe the most infamous botch in pro wrestling history. Andre the Giant pins Hulk Hogan and the referee counts three by mistake. So, the match should have been over rather quickly. Regardless of the botch, they continued with what was a barely passable match. Andre the Giant was in extremely poor health and there was little he could do in the ring. All that Hulk Hogan has in his repertoire is vulgar grandstanding. Was Andre the Giant truly undefeated heading into this main event? No. Had been body slammed? Yes. Had he pinned? Yes. As a matter of fact, he had been slammed and pinned by Hulk Hogan years prior. The supposed greatest WrestleMania of all time was nothing but hype. Vincent K. McMahon proved yet again to be the greatest snake-oil salesman of all time because the masses bought into the hype big time.

– Dr. Frisbee

DR ROCHESTER

INDIFFERENT:
Just like there was The Wrestling Classic in between WrestleMania’s I & II, in between WrestleMania’s II & III there was The Big Event on August 28, 1986. Emanating from Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Technically, not a pay-per-view, but still a super-card. The Junk Yard Dog defeated “Adorable” Adrian Adonis via count out, members of The Heenan Family defeated The Machines via disqualification, Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat defeated Jake “The Snake” Roberts in a No-Holds-Barred match, and “The Immortal” Hulk Hogan successfully defended the WWF Championship against “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff, who was already back to his “heelish” ways after turning baby-face following the inaugural WrestleMania. They were feuding over the right to use “Real American” as their entrance music. What about The U.S. Express? They’ve all but been forgotten. Just as The Wrestling Classic was replaced as an annual pay-per-view extravaganza by the Survivor Series, The Big Event would be replaced by SummerSlam.

“Cowboy” Bob Orton served as a bodyguard for “Rowdy” Roddy Piper the past two years, so this was the first and only time that he competed at a WrestleMania. The second generation wrestler was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2005. His former employer, The Hot Rod, left the WWF following WrestleMania III so to star in John Carpenter’s “They Live” (1988). A totally awesome sci-fi movie. He came to chew bubblegum and kick ass and he is all out of bubblegum. He wouldn’t return to he WWF until WrestleMania V. Just like his former bodyguard, Roddy Piper was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2005.

King Harley Race used the entrance music that today is associated with Jerry “The King” Lawler. Bobby Heenan, being such a great character, joined Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse “The Body” Ventura on commentary for The Dream Team vs. The Fabulous Rougeaus match. He explained that he was 2&0 because even though Hercules and Billy Jack Haynes wrestled to a double count out, it was a moral victory for The Heenan Family. Also, Harley Race defeated The Junk Yard Dog. Gorilla Monsoon clarified that he was really 1&3 because he couldn’t count Hercules vs. Billy Jack Haynes as a win and King Kong Bundy lost his match. Bobby Heenan renounced the King Kong Bundy match since he wanted nothing to do with little people.

Back in the 1980s, Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat used “Sirius” by The Alan Parsons Project as his entrance music. But, you won’t find that anywhere on the WWE Network. Lame. Why not at least use his WCW entrance music? I may ruffle a few feathers when I say that I don’t believe “Macho Man” Randy Savage and Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat really “stole the show” as everyone says they did. Heresy, I know, but what I mean is that even though I acknowledge the Intercontinental Championship match was superior in terms of technical wrestling, them having a great match did nothing to take away from the fans enjoyment of the main event.

No one would ever expect Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant to have a fast paced match like Randy Savage and Ricky Steamboat. The WWF Championship match was a clash of titans. A battle of the super-heavyweights. A different type of match entirely. I equate Randy Savage vs. Ricky Steamboat to something out of “The Matrix” (1999) with two guys fighting at inhuman speeds. Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant was more akin to those two rock monsters fighting on a mountain in “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” (2012). They made the ground shake. “Stealing the show” should not mean the same thing as having the match of the night.

The Rock vs. “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan stole the show at WrestleMania XVIII because afterwards no one had much interest in the WWF Undisputed Championship match between “Y2J” Chris Jericho and Triple H. The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels easily stole the show at WrestleMania XXV because the crowd had zero interest in the WWE Championship match between Randy Orton and Triple H. Hmm… There’s seems to be a pattern emerging. One can easily steal the show from the monotonous Triple H. Not so much from Hulk Hogan even if Randy Savage almost always had the match of the night. Again, stealing the show and match of the night should not mean the same thing. There is a subtle difference.

– Dr. Rochester

Author: Dominick

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