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WrestleMania III

March 29, 1987

Venue: Pontiac Silverdome, Pontiac, MI

Attendance: 93,173

Tagline: “Bigger! Better! Badder!”

Runtime: 3 hours, 5 minutes

RS: Imagine being so hyped for Wrestlemania III that you travel to Detroit and pay top dollar to sit in the last row of the upper deck of the Silverdome. You can’t tell who is in the ring, and you can even barely see the projected screens hung over the ring! My heart warmed a little when, during “America, the Beautiful,” the video montage featured several shots of downtown Baltimore, when the Inner Harbor was a big deal, like, everywhere. Also, it’s very obvious WWF learned its lesson in keeping all the action in one place and having a mega-card


  • The Can-Am Connection (Rick Martel & Tom Zenk) vs. Cowboy Bob Orton & Magnificent Muraco, with Mr. Fuji

TH: This is a great start to WrestleMania III:  fast-moving tag team action with good looking Martel and Zenk vs. old school bruiser Orton and a ‘roided out Muraco. Magnificent Muraco is huge here, he looks almost twice as big as he did in WM 2. The underrated Martel and Zenk are great in matching white; Martel probably could have been a superstar if he didn’t look like a muscular version of Scott Baio. There’s a cool (if slightly dirty) finish for the face win. Overall a promising beginning for our third WrestleMania!

RS: Does Gorilla keep calling them the K&M Connection? You can tell that tag team specialists is still a fairly novel concept, but the Can-Am Connection has some definite speed while Orton and Muraco are doing the standard heel moves. The ending is a hot finish with a basic double team of a drop kick and trip with Can-Am escaping with a win.

  • Billy Jack Haynes vs. Hercules, with Bobby “The Brain” Heenan

RS: It’s the first appearance of the little ring car that drives the wrestlers to the ring! I want the driver’s autograph, he’s the unsung hero of this massive event. Supposedly, they got this car because the walk from the locker room to the ring was too long for Andre the Giant. This was a brilliant solution. Anyways…

I can only describe this match as a “cock fight.” Two jacked guys just pounding on each other. There’s almost no moves, except a very old school thing. Billy tries to suplex Hercules but it’s blocked and Billy actually shows a back injury from the failed suplex. You just don’t see that anymore. There is an extraordinary amount of hoopla over the full nelson. Eventually, a full nelson is locked on outside of the ring and they’re so committed to it we get a double count out.

Publicity still of Hercules, wearing chain around his neck
Amateur mythologist and chain enthusiast, Hercules

TH: Hercules has dropped the “Hernandez” from his name and is now in full mythic mode, complete with chains that are definitely mythological and not at all from the local hardware store. In his pre-match promo he references the chains from “thousands of years ago when I used them to pull down the pillars of Rome.” Huh? He appears to be mixing up the stories of Hercules and Samson, and also suggesting that he’s an immortal demigod of some sort which, if true, makes me wonder why he didn’t get a better spot on the card than the middle of the afternoon while the dome is still open and the sun is still out. Anyway, Hercules, whom you should remember from WrestleMania 1 and 2, and Billy Jack Haynes are two huge, strong dudes. Haynes pulls off a full overhead slam; Hercules returns the favor later with an overhead slam of his own. Apparently they both use the Full Nelson as their finishing move, so there’s some tiresome back and forth with each slapping it on the other to get the submission. When Billy Jack takes the action outside the ring for a Full Nelson and gets cheap shotted by Heenan, he’s required by the Wrestlers’ Code to chase after Heenan, though I’m 90% certain I heard a “Heenan” chant from the crowd. The official finish is a double count out (lame) but Hercules goes after Billy Jack and pops him in the head with a chain-wrapped fist for some color and some loud boos. Kinda disappointing after a good start. The question of who is the real “Master of the Full Nelson” remains sadly unsettled.

  • Hillbilly Jim, Haiti Kid, and Little Beaver vs. King Kong Bundy, Little Tokyo, and Lord Littlebrook, 6 man mixed tag team

TH: Only two matches down and moving right along, so I guess it’s time for some comic relief already. Note: The term “midget” has gone out of favor, and was typically used for a person with dwarfism who was put on display for others’ amusement. So while “midget” was used throughout this match by 1987 commentators, we’ll use the preferred term “little person” here. Damn, that Hillbilly Jim is such a nice guy — in his pre-match promo he says his biggest concern is making sure his much smaller partners are safe. He gets a big pop when he enters the ring and does a do-si-do with Haiti Kid and Little Beaver. “Mr. Baseball” Bob Uecker comes out for commentary and keeps referring to people getting hit in their “boilers.” I think he means balls. Because four of the wrestlers are short. Get it? There’s a great gag with Little Beaver going through Bundy’s legs before tagging in Hillbilly Jim, then Bundy, while the ref is distracted, slams Little Beaver and drops an elbow on him, earning an immediate disqualification. All four of the little person wrestlers, plus Hillbilly Jim, turn on Bundy and chase him from the ring, so we get a face win by disqualification for our third match of the event. 

Black and white publicity still of Lord Littlebrook, wearing black trunks and a championship belt
Lord Littlebrook, 1929-2016

I know they’re treated like a throwaway source of comedy here, but it’s important to note that these little person wrestlers had fascinating lives and careers of their own before and after WrestleMania. Lord Littlebrook (Eric Henry Edward Tovey), for example, was born in England in 1929, making him 58 at the time of this match. He started performing in the circus at age 14 as an “acrobat midget.” All told, he performed or managed in professional wrestling for 57 years, and was inducted into both the Canadian Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame and the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame. He spent his later years in St. Joseph, MO, had 28 grandchildren, and died of cancer in 2016 at age 87. Little Beaver (Lionel Giroux, d. 1995), Little Tokyo (Shigeru Akabane, d. 2011), and Haiti Kid (Raymond Kessler) all had similarly interesting lives and careers; I’d encourage you to read a bit about these remarkable men.

RS: Man, how the mighty has fallen. Bundy goes from the main event of Wrestlemania 2 against arguably the biggest star in the sport ever, to a mixed 6-man tag with little people and Hillbilly Jim. Little Tokyo and Haiti Kid gave some solid mat wrestling. We get a funny “row boat” spot, and then predictably, Bundy loses his patience and crushes Little Beaver. The scene ends with an odd, yet dramatic shot of Hillbilly Jim carrying Little Beaver in his arms, totally distraught over the damage the brute Bundy carried out.

  • Junkyard Dog vs. King Harley Race, with Bobby “The Brain” Heenan and Fabulous Moolah, “loser must bow” match

TH: Wow, things are really moving and we’re up to the fourth match already. This pace is a vast improvement over WrestleMania 2, which dragged like an afternoon at work after a bacon cheeseburger and 3-beer lunch. Anyway, this is a great feud between Junkyard Dog and King Harley Race, which especially works because Race, one of the last of the old school shooters and tough guys, seems like your racist grandpa. As a kid, I really hated him, and watching him here he still seems like the kind of guy who, if he were around today, would post “Build the Wall” stuff on his Facebook page. We get a flashback to the JYD-Race feud, then we’re rolling. There’s some solid action here between the big guys. 

Publicity still of King Harley Race, in purple robe with white fur collar, crown, and blue tights
King Harley Race, old school badass

RS: Interesting that Harley Race enters to the “Great Gate of Kiev,” which nowadays is the theme music for Jerry “The King” Lawler. JYD gets a big pop and is dancing. He’s such a character. Sloppy camera work causes us to miss a brilliant spot of Harley missing a headbutt from the apron to the floor. Harley lands a falling headbutt but learns that JYD’s head is famously hard. There’s a weird ending from a belly to belly suplex and a late kickout attempt by JYD — it looks like maybe JYD lost count? JYD now needs to bow to Harley and he does, but when Harley stands to celebrate JYD grabs the chair and clocks Harley. Such good theater. JYD stole Harley’s cape and rolled out. 

TH: JYD gets a huge pop from the crowd when he brains Harley with the folding chair. Jesse Ventura, always the upholder of wrestling morality where faces are concerned, is horrified by the move, while Gorilla Monsoon loves it. So we get the first (relatively) clean heel win of the show, but with some satisfying revenge for the face. I loved JYD taking the cape and heading for the exit. 

Before the next match there’s an over the top promo from Hulk and Vince to sell the upcoming main event. Honestly I have a hard time following what the hell is Hulk talking about here. (“Tanging and banging?” WTF?)

  • The Dream Team (Brutus Beefcake and Greg “The Hammer” Valentine), with Dino Bravo and “Luscious” Johnny Valiant vs. The Rougeau Brothers (Jacques and Raymond)

RS: As a kid, Dino Bravo was one of my favorites and I loved his feud with the Ultimate Warrior. Good double team work here:  Brutus is looking great; Hammer is finally showing his age a little but is still tough as nails. Brutus hits Hammer by accident. Chaos in the ring as Dino Bravo jumps in and causes the Dream Team to win it. Pretty fun match. And a wedge has been driven between Brutus and the Hammer with Hammer and Bravo leaving Brutus behind! We have a face turn! Is this the first face turn on a WWF pay-per-view?

Greg the Hammer Valentine in a heart-themed robe
Greg the Hammer, perpetual runner-up in the “Greatest Robes in Wrestling” contest (No need to gloat, Ric Flair.)

TH: The Dream Team is back for their second WrestleMania, and everybody is dressed to the nines for the big PPV — Brutus has tiger print tights with thigh fishnet cutouts (?) and Valentine has a bitchin’ robe with “The Hammer” across the back. The very Canadian Rougeau Brothers, Jacques and Raymond, are fast and agile and should have been a good match for the stronger Dream Team, but overall I found this one pretty forgettable. (Sorry, Rich!) I did like the finish, Hammer and Bravo leaving Brutus alone in the ring to ponder where it all went wrong. (Personally I’d blame the tights.) The Rougeaus, who deserved better, will return for WrestleManias IV and V.

“Rowdy” Roddy Piper vs. Adrian Adonis, with Jimmy Hart, haircut match

RS: Piper makes a slight transphobic promo, which is on point, knowing his history with Gold Dust later in his career. Adonis gets serious heat coming out with Jimmy Hart. The crowd is getting unruly as people throw trash on Adonis in the ring and someone dumps popcorn on Piper. I’m surprised Piper didn’t charge into the crowd. Piper and Adonis trading belt shots. Amazing spot of Piper whipping Jimmy into Adonis and the momentum throwing both over the top rope. Piper then throws Jimmy from the top rope into Adrian. This match has been brutal, I don’t think it was a “no holds barred” but the ref is definitely just letting things go, playing up the animosity between Piper and Adonis.

TH: Billed at 298 pounds, “The Adorable” Adrian Adonis looks anything but in the largest pair of pink granny panties I’ve ever seen. My wife watched this match with me and was horrified by the prospect of Mr. Adonis’s junk coming loose, which seemed a real possibility at multiple points. Piper had announced his retirement leading up to WrestleMania III, intending to leave wrestling for Hollywood. (He would gain some box office and cult success with John Carpenter’s They Live, but his first post-WWF film was the rightfully forgotten Hell Comes to Frogtown.) There’s a huge pop and a standing ovation for Roddy’s entrance, as Jesse lets us know that this “hair for hair” match will end with either “a bald Scot or humpty dumpty.” Roddy, clearly fired up for the occasion and from his ongoing feud with Adonis, pulls off his belt and doles out a whipping, going after Jimmy Hart for good measure. I second Rich on the great spot with Adrian flipping over the turnbuckle. I also enjoyed Piper pulling both Hart and Adonis into the ring so he can ram their heads together, Three Stooges style, and pitch them over the top rope. There’s some solid punching back and forth, until Adonis distracts the ref while Hart sprays Roddy with the perfume atomizer. I really enjoyed the finish here — taking advantage of a blinded Piper, Adonis slaps on the sleeper hold and goes to the mat. Piper hangs on for a long time, getting up again and slamming Adonis into the corner to break the hold, but Adonis keeps the pressure on as Piper gradually loses steam. 

RS: Adonis thinks Piper is out. Brutus shows up out of nowhere and wakes Piper up. Roddy slaps Adonis in his own sleeper. Adonis blacks out! Classic arm drop test. BRUTUS STARTS CUTTING ADONIS’S HAIR. He is now Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake, solidifying his face turn! Piper stands on the back of Jimmy Hart to stop him from stopping Brutus. Roddy grabs a mirror so Adrian can see his new ‘do, and Adrian attacks it like a rabid parrot. Jimmy and Adonis flee, covering Adonis’s head in shame (even though his pink granny panties remain on full display.) While Piper celebrates, a kid runs into the ring — Piper celebrates with him but security swarms fast and Piper is driven back triumphantly.

Jesse Ventura, in character as Blain Cooper from the film, Predator. Jesse is wearing an MTV t-shirt and bush hat and holding a mini gun. He's clearly holding chewing tobacco in his cheek.
Jesse Ventura. He doesn’t have time to bleed, but he has time to self-promote!

TH: Between matches, Jesse Ventura, in a rattlesnake skin vest, is introduced in the ring primarily, as far as I can tell, to have a chance to plug his role in the upcoming Arnold Schwarzenegger action movie, Predator.

  • The Hart Foundation (Bret “Hitman” Hart and Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart) and Danny Davis, with Jimmy Hart vs. The British Bulldogs and Tito Santana, with Matilda the bulldog!

TH: Oh, I remember this gimmick! From the forgotten recesses of my “Superstars of Wrestling” memories, Danny Davis was a referee whose devious ways cost the British Bulldogs and Tito Santana their titles in matches against the Hart Foundation and Macho Man Savage, respectively. Someone (incorrectly) thought it would be interesting to have him be “suspended for life from refereeing” and become a wrestler, so he’s making his debut here in WrestleMania III alongside The Hart Foundation, against the tag team and Intercontinental champions he had screwed over. I’m looking forward to this one — the Hart Foundation and the British Bulldogs belong in the top ten tag teams of the 80s, maybe of all time, and the Bulldogs match against The Dream Team was one of the few highlights of WrestleMania 2. Pre-match, Jimmy Hart is cutting the hell out of his promo, sounding like he’s got the gross national product of Columbia in his nose:  “You want a war, you got a war!” he shrieks. In the ring, Matilda goes after Jimmy Hart like she’s a drug sniffing dog and he’s bathed in cocaine, and everybody else goes running too. Mary Hart wants us to know, “It’s very important to note that Jimmy Hart and I are not related,” then Jesse runs off with Matilda! Oh no! I hope she bites his leg and takes a dump on his snakeskin vest. The (human) Bulldogs are distraught enough over the dognapping to swing the momentum toward the Harts, before coming back to Davey Boy Smith and Tito Santana. Apparently Dynamite Kid was dealing with a serious back injury at the time, and he’s largely absent from this match, with Davey Boy Smith handling the team’s heavy lifting, literally:  he whips Bret into the ropes, then hits him with a clothesline that almost decapitates him, with Bret selling like crazy. Davis is tagged in a couple of times for a few quick shots, but the biggest pop comes when Tito gets into the action, unloading on Davis and cleaning house on the Harts. Davey Boy hits a piledriver and one of his incredible running power slams, but unfortunately Jimmy Hart tosses his megaphone to Danny Davis, who uses it to brain Davey Boy and pin him for the win. Another heel win with a dirty finish. I hope Matilda is ok! As far as I can tell there are no Matilda updates for the rest of the night, which is an unfortunate oversight. I hope it doesn’t distract me from enjoying the remainder of WrestleMania III.

Tito Santana, in white tights, with referee in the ring
National treasure and 3-time (so far!) WrestleMania participant, Tito Santana. Image from

RS: The dog attack is the best part of this match. I’m not sure why Jesse Ventura takes the dog? Bret Hart, even this early, really wore the heel role well. He sells anger hard. I also don’t understand why they would do a match that didn’t have the tag titles on the line, but I guess this is still before the times where WWF viewed Wrestlemania as the end/beginning of their “season.” That’s all I really got to say about that.

  • “The Natural” Butch Reed, with Slick vs. Koko B. Ware

RS: Does Koko come out to a song by Morris Day and the Time? Jesse Ventura makes a racist comment about Koko B Ware and what the B stands for. Jesse continues to refer to Koko by the racist name. I alway enjoyed Koko and his parrot Frankie, but then I was always a sucker for a gimmick. Koko wasn’t fast, but he was smooth. His reversals are so clean. An anticlimactic ending to this match with a reversed body press and Butch grabbing the tights to get the pin. Koko gets jumped by Slick but Tito Santana, who always seems to jump to the rescue, attacks and strips Slick, then Tito and Koko double team Butch. So far only one face has won a match?

Publicity still of Koko B. Ware, in a gold satin jacket and headband, with macaw Frankie on his right arm
Koko B. Ware and therapy parrot, Frankie, here to soothe Tim’s angst over the previous match’s dognapping.

TH: I’m just glad we get another animal to distract me from my angst over Matilda’s well-being. There’s a great close-up of Frankie the macaw as we’re getting ready to start the match — give that cameraman a raise. Jesse gets in another plug for Predator, as well as his most racist commentary of the evening. In addition to his comments about Koko, he calls Tito Santana “Chico” and blames “that Latin temper of his” for the post-match dust-up. Pretty unremarkable match, unfortunately, with yet another dirty heel finish. Jesse gets in one more racialized comment about Tito being “sneaky,” and this match is thankfully behind us. Still no sign of Matilda, but Frankie seems to be having a great time. Parrots live at least 50 years, and some live to be over 100, so there’s a good chance Frankie is still out there, partying hard.

  • Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat, with George “The Animal” Steele vs. Randy “Macho Man” Savage, with Miss Elizabeth, WWF Intercontinental Championship match

TH: Our third match in a row with an animal mascot! Ricky Steamboat is back for his third WrestleMania appearance to face the Macho Man for the Intercontinental Championship; as in the previous WrestleMania his match is one of the highlights of the show. Steamboat and Savage had an epic feud that I clearly remember, including the match, shown in clips here, in which Macho Man dropped The Dragon on the ringside barricade, then hit him with the ring bell, “crushing” Ricky’s larynx and causing him to “swallow his tongue.” We also get the backstory on George “The Animal” Steele, obsessed with Miss Elizabeth to the point of running off with her King Kong/Fay Wray style during a previous match. There’s quite a welcome for Macho Man, even though he’s playing the heel; Ricky enters in a karate gi and headband, looking ready for war and much trimmer compared to WrestleMania 2. The Dragon starts strong, taking Macho down with multiple arm drags in a row, then picking him up in a choke. The crowd is really into this one — Ricky karate chops Macho Man and goes for a lot of quick pins; Macho way oversells a slingshot into the corner. George Steele, nearing the end of his career here, helps Ricky at several points by hoisting him back over the barrier, rolling him back into the ring in time to beat a countout, and pushing Randy off the top turnbuckle. There’s a lot of tiresome back and forth between Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse Ventura about the legality or illegality of The Animal’s actions. I have to say that Jesse’s heel announcer bit is wearing thin, getting more annoying than entertaining with several matches to go. Anyway, back to the action, where the referee gets knocked out and Macho Man hits his flying elbow finisher but is unable to get the pin. Macho goes to grab the ring bell, presumably to repeat his dastardly actions from their previous match, but George comes to the rescue again and steals the bell. For the finish, Randy body slams Steamboat but gets rolled over in small package and the crowd goes absolutely bananas. Animal is ecstatic, hugging Ricky as the two ride the cart together out of the arena. There’s a great shot of Macho Man and Miss Elizabeth on their own cart, receding down the long walkway to the dressing room. I’m almost over my distress about Matilda thanks to this match.

RS: These two are made for each other. Similar body types and complimentary styles, the match is fast and dramatic. “The Animal” makes a couple of saves and runs off with Elizabeth. All in all, a solid match with lots of spots, and another dramatic scene of an exhausted Ricky Steamboat being driven away with the belt with George Steele, huddled in joy.

  • Honky Tonk Man, with Jimmy Hart vs. Jake “The Snake” Roberts, with Alice Cooper

RS: I was really looking forward to this match but it doesn’t live up to expectations. It’s clear in the pre-match promo that Honky Tonk Man cannot play the guitar at all. For me, the after-match activities were more entertaining. Alice Cooper and Jimmy Hart square up but Jake grabs Jimmy from behind and Alice grabs Damien the python. Alice charges at Jimmy with the snake for a very memorable spot.

Still from promo video of Jake the Snake Roberts and Alice Cooper, with Damien the python
Jake, Alice, and Damien relaxing at home. Image from

TH: This is Honky Tonk Man’s first WrestleMania appearance, and Jake’s second. I agree with Rich that this one doesn’t really deliver, which is too bad given the talent of these two guys. The first thing that occurs to me is that I have no idea how Honky Tonk Man didn’t get a “cease and desist” letter from Elvis Presley Enterprises, his schtick is so close to 70s era Elvis. Detroit hometown boy Alice Cooper is in Jake the Snake’s corner, which doesn’t make much sense aside from their mutual fondness for big snakes. Jake is taking it to Honky Tonk early, stripping off his jumpsuit. Jake reverses Honky Tonk’s finisher, the “Shake, Rattle, and Roll,” into a back drop. Jesse delivers a good line:  “Snakes are dangerous when they’re hurt.” Jake signals for the DDT, but Jimmy Hart interferes and Honky Tonk gets the pin while holding onto the rope. Another dirty heel win!

Mean Gene makes the announcement that WrestleMania III has set a “brand new indoor attendance record, 93,173.”

  • Iron Sheik & Nikolai Volkoff, with Slick vs. The Killer Bees (B. Brian Blair & Jumping Jim Brunzell)

RS: There is instant heat for Sheik and Volkoff, especially as Volkoff begins to serenade the audience with the Soviet anthem, but out of nowhere comes “Hacksaw” Jim Dugan with his 2×4 to silence the big Russian! This match is moving fast. The crowd is really worked to a fervor with trash flying. Hacksaw ends up breaking up a camel clutch with his wood, giving the heels a win via disqualification. This match made me think about something that I saw on the Internet that was attributed to Bobby Heenan. He said that in modern days, the referees draw most of the heat, instead of getting out of the way to allow heels to land cheap shots and such to draw their own heat. This match got the crowd into such a frenzy, it was perfect lead-in to the main event.

cover image from The Sheik, documentary about the Iron Sheik's life and career
Hall of Fame heel and Twitter influencer, the Iron Sheik. Image from

TH: The Killer Bees are back for their second WrestleMania; Sheik and Nikolai are back for their third time. As in Sheik and Nikolai’s previous appearances, the boos they inspire are incredible. I can’t imagine the feeling of 90,000+ people hating my guts in unison. These guys are masters of it. Duggan, per usual, goes for the cheap patriotic cred. It’s sorta unclear what he’s doing here, actually, and he costs the Bees the match. If we haven’t mentioned it before, do yourself a favor and watch The Sheik on YouTube to learn more about one of the all time great heels of this era.

  • Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant, with Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, WWF World Heavyweight Championship match

RS: This is the classic. The promos before are solid platinum. It also reminds us that back in the day, storylines would take over a year sometimes before crescendoing to the grudge match, or “blowoff.” The crowd definitely has had a bit too much to drink and crap is being thrown at Bob Uecker. (I wonder if Howard Finkel was ever upset he didn’t get to announce this match?) Andre drew serious heat since he turned heel over the course of this rivalry, and supposedly he is undefeated going into this match. Huge pop for Hogan coming out on foot. He looks like a roast turkey. How much can one man tan?

The bell rings and they stand chest to chest with Hogan running his mouth and getting himself psyched up. Hogan goes for an early slam but (seemingly realistically) his back gives out and Andre falls on top of him, getting a seriously close near fall. Andre dominates and is working over Hogan big time. Andre finally misses and Hogan capitalizes but the Giant is still too strong for him. Finally, the action breaks down to a bear hug from Andre. Hogan starts to summon the energy of 90,000 Hulkamaniacs to try and break the hug. Hogan shakes his hand like he may have broken it over Andre’s head. Hulk fights in bursts while Andre just continues to work. Andre really is carrying this match. Hogan tries for a piledriver on the outside, which is just an ugly, ugly spot. They definitely don’t show that in the highlight reel of this match. Hogan finally knocks Andre down! The crowd is going insane! Hogan slams him and drops the big leg and scores the pin. What a finish!

This definitely felt like the final transition from the old school to the new, over the top, personality-driven wrestling. With this win over Andre, Hulkamania is now the most dominant force in wrestling, perhaps even pop culture in general. Andre was the ultimate independent territory worker and has now fallen to the worldwide name brand’s champion. The iconic shot of Andre riding in the car, yelling back at Hogan, being pelted with trash and Heenan with his head down while Hogan poses in the ring is probably the most memorable wrestling video clip of all time. 

Still of Andre the Giant, Bobby Heenan, Roddy Piper, and Hulk Hogan on "Piper's Pit," in which Andre turned heel
Andre’s heel turn on Piper’s Pit. I’ve definitely talked about this scene in therapy. Image from

TH: If you talk to me in person for any length of time, and especially if I’ve had a bit to drink, there are some subjects which will inevitably come up:  Patrick Swayze was an angel who walked among us and Road House was his most perfect gift to humankind; Willie Nelson is our greatest living jazz singer; Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian is the great American novel; and the Andre the Giant heel turn on Piper’s Pit was the day I lost my childhood innocence. I can’t express my shock and dismay at seeing Andre snarl at Hulk, grab his shirt and tear it off, breaking Hogan’s cross necklace and scratching his chest in the process. Andre was the gentle giant, and he and Hogan were such good friends, how could he let Bobby Heenan lead him astray like that? Along with Alex and Ellen breaking up on Family Ties, I’d put it in my top three traumatic childhood moments involving fictional television characters. Cue “At this Moment,” and Tim’s bitter, lonely tears. Anyway, Rich did a good job of summing up the action, so I won’t repeat that here, but there are some amazing moments:  Andre and Hogan staring each other down while Gorilla Monsoon declares it “the irresistible force meeting the immovable object;” Hogan “hulking up” to break that massive bear hug; and of course Hulk picking up Andre for the slam while a thousand flashbulbs fire. Hulk poses and vamps for so long after the match that they have to restart his music, then we get still highlights of the night while Lady Aretha plays once again. Great, great match for the men in the ring and for the WWF as a burgeoning cultural force. 

Best Match

RS: There’s no doubt about this one – Hogan v. Andre. There’s nothing that compares to it. It’s the truly pinnacle of 1980s wrestling and sets the path for the next 35 years of the WWF/WWE. Also, even though Andre is apparently ill and near the end of his career, he works this match hard and makes Hogan look so good!

TH: Definitely. Absolutely iconic start to finish. Although the match itself is pretty basic and relatively short, it can’t be beat for sheer drama and impact.

Worst Match

TH: I’m going with Hercules vs. Billy Jack Haynes. The back and forth full nelsons slow the action down to a crawl, and the double count out finish is unsatisfying. 

RS: I hate to say it, but Jake the Snake v. Honky Tonk Man. It’s just a mess with no actual memorable spots during the match. 

Oh Sh!t Moment

RS: For me, while it’s close between Hogan slamming Andre and Brutus Beefcake turning face and becoming “The Barber.” But, since I must choose one, I go with the latter. It’s a great face turn and the birth of a gimmick that runs for a long, long time.

TH: Brutus’s face turn is great, and after this he became one of my favorite wrestlers. I have to go with that slam of Andre, though. I still get excited every time I see it. You’re required to stand up if you’re watching, same as when the National Anthem or Bob Seger’s “Night Moves” comes on.

Overall Rating

RS: I’d say this is a 4 out of 5. They fixed a lot of the problems they gave themselves with Wrestlemania 2 and we’re lucky III exists. My main issue is the overload of dirty finishes and lackluster matches. There’s just not many “Wrestlemania Moments,” in my opinion. But, this could also be because Hogan and Andre are just three levels higher than everyone else on this card. The production values were so much better. They ended the night with a highlight montage and a signoff. It was a complete broadcast and I really like that, even though the highlights just reminded me how bored I was with most of this event.

TH: I’d also give this a 4 out of 5, primarily on the strength of the main event. I agree with Rich that the production is much cleaner here, and the sold out Silverdome is an epic backdrop for the action. There aren’t as many total dud matches as in WrestleMania 1 and 2, but there is also a disappointing lack of superb highlights on the level of Sheik and Volkoff vs. U.S. Express (WM1), the British Bulldogs vs. the Dream Team (WM2), or the Funks vs. Junkyard Dog and Tito Santana (WM2). Overall my favorite of the three we’ve watched so far!

In Memoriam

Adrian Adonis, d. 1988

Andre the Giant, d. 1993

Dino Bravo, d. 1993

King Kong Bundy, d. 2019

British Bulldog Dynamite Kid, d. 2018

Fabulous Moolah, d. 2007

Howard Finkel, d. 2020

Frankie the macaw, d. 2001

Aretha Franklin, d. 2018

Mr. Fuji, d. 2016

Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, d. 2017

Hercules, d. 2004

Junkyard Dog, d. 1998

Little Beaver, d. 1995

Little Tokyo, d. 2011

Lord Littlebrook, d. 2016

Matilda the Bulldog (we assume, but don’t want to look it up)

Miss Elizabeth, d. 2003

Gorilla Monsoon, d. 1999

Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart, d. 2018

“Mean” Gene Okerlund, d. 2019

“Rowdy” Roddy Piper, d. 2015

Pontiac Silverdome, demolished 2018

“King” Harley Race, d. 2019

Randy “Macho Man” Savage, d. 2011

British Bulldog Davey Boy Smith, d. 2002

George “The Animal” Steele, d. 2017

“Luscious” Johnny Valiant, d. 2018

Nikolai Volkoff, d. 2018

Tom Zenk, d. 2017

Black and white headshot of Andre the Giant, headed tilted slightly back, eyes wide
RIP Andre “The Giant” Roussimoff, d. 1993

15 thoughts on “WrestleMania III

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