THREE GUYS AND… RETRO WRESTLING
series created by Marvin Mercer and Nick Stephenson
written by Dominick Cappello
March 27, 1988
Historic Atlantic City Convention Hall
Atlantic City, New Jersey
– Vacated WWF Championship 14 Man Single Elimination Tournament:
Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant
“The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase (w/ Virgil) vs. “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan
“The Rock” Don Muraco (w/ “Superstar” Billy Graham) vs. Dino Bravo (w/ Frenchy Martin)
Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat vs. Greg “The Hammer” Valentine (w/ Jimmy Hart)
“Macho Man” Randy Savage (w/ Miss Elizabeth) vs. “The Natural” Butch Reed (w/ Slick)
Bam Bam Bigalow (w/ Oliver Humperdink) vs. The One Man Gang (w/ Slick)
Jake “The Snake” Roberts vs. “Ravishing” Rick Rude (w/ Bobby “The Brain” Heenan)
– Intercontinental Championship Match:
The Honky Tonk Man (c) (w/ Jimmy Hart & Peggy Sue) vs. Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake
– The Ultimate Warrior vs. Hercules (w/ Bobby “The Brain” Heenan)
– The Islanders (Haku & Tama) & Bobby “The Brain” Heenan vs.
The British Bulldogs (Davey Boy Smith & The Dynamite Kid) & Koko B. Ware
– WWF Tag Team Championship Match:
Strike Force (Rick Martel & Tito Santana) (c) vs. Demolition (Ax & Smash) (w/ Mr. Fuji)
– 20 Man Battle Royal:
The Junkyard Dog, King Harley Race, The Hart Foundation, Hillbilly Jim, Bad News Brown, George “The Animal” Steele, The Bolsheviks, Ken Patera, “The Wild Samoan” Sika, The Young Stallions, Sam Houston, The Killer Bees, “The Outlaw” Ron Bass, The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers, & “Dangerous” Danny Davis
Previously on The Main Event, “The Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiase conspired with Andre the Giant to buy the WWF Championship, but WWF President Jack Tunney would not allow this treachery and declared the title vacant heading into WrestleMania IV, resulting in the greatest tournament in pro wrestling history.
Gladys Knight sang “America the Beautiful” to open the show. “Mr. Baseball” Bob Uecker was back by popular demand, joining Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse “The Body” Ventura on commentary for the big twenty man Battle Royal. An over six foot tall trophy would be the prize for the winner. George “The Animal” Steele was disqualified for refusing to enter the ring. Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart was eliminated early on, forcing Bret “Hit Man” Hart to form an alliance with Bad News Brown. Together, they eliminated The Junkyard Dog, then Bad News Brown double-crossed and eliminated Bret Hart. Bad News Brown was victorious, but Bret Hart was not gracious in defeat and he proceeded to destroy the trophy.
Bob Uecker bailed and spent most of the show on lookout for Vanna White from “Wheel of Fortune”. Meanwhile, “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase schemed his way through the title tournament. He defeated “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan in the first round with help from Andre the Giant. Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant was the first match in the quarter-finals of the tournament, but it ended in a double DQ after both superstars used a steel chair. What a shocker that Hulk Hogan wouldn’t be in main event of WrestleMania for the first time. Ted DiBiase also defeated Don Muraco in the quarter-finals. Don Muraco had defeated Dino Bravo earlier in the show. This meant that The Million Dollar Man wouldn’t have to compete in the semi-finals and go straight to the finals because of the double elimination of Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant.
There were a few upsets in the tournament. Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat was eliminated in the first round by Greg “The Hammer” Valentine. “Macho Man” Randy Savage was the only superstar who had to compete four times at WrestleMania IV, defeating “The Natural” Butch Reed, Greg “The Hammer” Valentine, and The One Man Gang to reach the finals. The Macho Man had different colored trunks and a different flashy robe for each match while Miss Elizabeth wore a different elegant evening gown for each match to match The Macho Man’s ring gear. Jake “The Snake” Roberts fought “Ravishing” Rick Rude to a time limit draw in round one, giving The One Man Gang a bye in the quarter-finals after he defeated Bam Bam Bigalow via count-out. “Mean” Gene Okerlund and Vanna White were keeping those watching on pay-per-view up to date with the brackets for the tournament.
In non tournament matches, The Ultimate Warrior made his WrestleMania debut, defeating Hercules. The Honky Tonk lost to Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake via disqualification, so once again The Honky Tonk Man retained his Intercontinental Championship on a technicality. The luckiest Intercontinental Champion of all time. The Heenan Family bested The British Bulldogs (Davey Boy Smith & The Dynamite Kid) & Koko B. Ware in a six man tag team match and it was Bobby “The Brain” Heenan himself who scored the winning pin-fall. Also, Demolition (Ax & Smash) defeated Strike Force (Rick Martel & Tito Santana) for the WWF Tag Team Titles. Strike Force were the baby-faces, but the crowd in New Jersey was cheering for Demolition. How could you not with their awesome entrance music?
The finals of the tournament pitted “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase against “Macho Man” Randy Savage. Since The Million Dollar Man had Andre the Giant in his corner, The Macho Man sent Miss Elizabeth back to the locker room to retrieve Hulk Hogan just like on the Saturday Night’s Main Event where The Mega Powers formed. Andre the Giant interfered in match several times, so The Hulkster evened the odds by clobbering The Million Dollar Man with a steel chair. The Macho Man then hit his patented flying elbow drop for the win, capturing the WWF Championship. The Mega Powers celebrated the victory. The Macho Man hoisting Miss Elizabeth up on his shoulder while she held the WWF Championship was indeed a WrestleMania moment. One of my favorites.
– Dr. Jelly
I nor any of my colleagues will speak to the saggy tangerine with a comb-over (Donald Trump) being the host of this WrestleMania. But, I will surely complain about the sixteen matches. Sixteen matches!? That’s way too much for me too handle. I’m a busy man and even if I wasn’t, I wouldn’t sit through sixteen matches. It’s just too damn much.
I’m so tired of these lame celebrities. Robin Leach from “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous”. Give me a break. This guy appeals to wrestling fans? Yeah, I really don’t think so. The opening battle royal was a slight improvement over the WrestleMania II one with all the football players. Bad News Brown was the winner, but Bret “Hit Man” Hart was bitter in defeat. A bitter Bret Hart? Surely you jest? Am I laying on the sarcasm thick enough?
What’s there to say about the title tournament? Well, the WWF could have given us rematch from WrestleMania III by having Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat vs. “Macho Man” Randy Savage. Even I enjoyed that match, but The Dragon was eliminated in the very first round. Lame. Though, the WWF made it up to me by having the yellow and red glory-hog Hulk Hogan eliminated from the tournament. Holy shit. Hulk Hogan isn’t going to be in the main event of WrestleMania? This is unprecedented, but a welcome surprise to say the least.
In non tournament matches, The Honky Tonk Man had another feeble showing as Intercontinental Champion. He lost to Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake via disqualification, so the title couldn’t changes hands. Are you kidding me? Again? I’ve lost track of how many WWF shows in a row that we’ve reviewed where The Honky Tonk Man was his opponent’s bitch, only to not lose his title. This routine is seriously wearing thin. I can understand not being able to beat “Macho Man” Randy Savage, but he can’t even beat Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake? The Barber? Really? I did however enjoy seeing Demolition take the WWF Tag Team Titles from those Strike Force wimps. Nobody tell Dr. Rochester that I called them wimps because his Tito Santana autographed picture is one of his most prized possessions.
So, here I was thinking that Hulk Hogan wasn’t going to be involved in the main event. What the hell was I thinking? Of course he was going to steal The Macho Man’s spotlight. Okay, I can understand storyline wise that something needed to be done about Andre the Giant interfering in the match, but why not just have Hulk Hogan chase The Giant back to the locker room and let The Macho Man win the belt on his own? I guess there’s no point in griping. Hulkamania will run wild no matter what. The Hulkster hit “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase, who was never even officially recognized as WWF Champion, with a steel chair and celebrated The Macho Man’s win as if they were the co-title holders. If this pisses you off, then just wait and see what happens to Bret Hart at WrestleMania IX.
– Dr. Frisbee
Did you know that WrestleMania IV didn’t actually emanate from Trump Plaza? It was at a convention center across the street. Interesting. This pay-per-view featured a twenty man Battle Royal and a fourteen man single elimination tournament for the vacated WWF Championship. That’s thirty-four wrestlers showcased in addition to a WWF Tag Team Championship Match, an Intercontinental Championship Match, and a six man tag team match. Some recent WrestleManias have had trouble balancing the overall spectacle of the event with the actual in-ring competition, but back in 1988, the WWF was focused and economical when it came to booking a show. No Kid Rock or Diddy concerts.
“Mr. Baseball” Bob Uecker joined mainstays Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse “The Body” Ventura on color commentary for the opening Battle Royal. Whereas some of the other WrestleMania guest celebrities over the years have been an annoying burden, Bob Uecker added a lot of humor. He was returning after a successful appearance at WrestleMania III and was inducted into the celebrity wing of the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2010.
In our WrestleMania II article, we touched on The Wrestling Classic, a one time only event held in 1985 which included a sixteen man tournament won by The Junkyard Dog. WrestleMania IV trumped (no pun intended) The Wrestling Classic in my opinion. Not only in the terms of match quality, but in terms of the story which was told throughout the event. “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase, in typical heel fashion, had a devious scheme to capture the gold while “Macho Man” Randy Savage, his eventual opponent, fought with pride and determination, taking no shortcuts.
Modern internet “smart” fans have condemned Hulk Hogan for sharing the spotlight with Randy Savage when it was The Macho Man’s crowning moment. Myself, I guess I’m a bit biased because I grew up a Hulkamaniac and this moment was the beginning of my childhood obsession with the WWF. I can’t help but feel nostalgic towards The Mega Powers and was saddened by the death of Randy Savage in 2011. I now freely acknowledge that Randy Savage was a superior wrestler to Hulk Hogan and if I was a little bit older in 1988, I probably would’ve preferred The Macho Man to The Hulkster. But, I also believe that Hulk Hogan is far more talented than “smart” fans acknowledge. Being a good “worker” means much more than just being a good technical wrestler. It means successfully working the crowd, your opponent, and your gimmick. And if you seen footage of Hulk Hogan competing in Japan, you’d know that he had expansive repertoire which he chose never to display here in the United States because he was skillful at reading a crowd and felt that showmanship was the better way to draw money as appose to scientific wrestling.
WrestleMania III was a milestone, but I was too young to appreciate it, so there is no real sense of nostalgia when I sit down to watch it. For me, it all started with WrestleMania IV. The show was sandwiched by Bret “Hit Man” Hart’s face turn and “Macho Man” Randy Savage’s title win, so this pay-per-view was unique in that it showcased the whole roster and not just Hulk Hogan. The tournament did just as much to elevate Ted DiBiase’s status as it did The Macho Man’s. Ted DiBiase would be a top heel for the next several years, working with Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, and The Ultimate Warrior on regular basis. Andre the Giant was more of an icon, but he couldn’t perform as well as Ted DiBiase in the ring. The Undertaker may have been undefeated for 21 WrestleManias, but no one else has ever competed in and won four matches in a single WrestleMania like “Macho Man” Randy Savage… OHH YEAH!!!
– Dr. Rochester