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WrestleMania V

April 2, 1989

Venue: Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey

Attendance: 18,496

Tagline: “The Mega Powers Explode!”

Run time: 3 hours, 40 minutes

TH: OK, so we’re past the big milestone of WrestleMania I, the sophomore slump of WrestleMania II, and the commercial triumph of WrestleMania III. WrestleMania IV threw a curveball in the form of a single elimination tournament for the heavyweight championship and proved that the concept could continue to evolve and entertain. So how is WrestleMania V going to conform to or alter the formula, and will it keep things interesting enough to justify the increasingly long run time? (For the record, WrestleMania I ran 2 hours, 16 minutes, and we’ve increased each time, with WrestleMania V being the longest so far.) We’re back at Trump Plaza in Atlantic City, the first time we’ve revisited a venue, and some of our favorite superstars from previous WrestleManias are also back — Hogan of course, but also Macho Man, the Hart Foundation, Dino Bravo, Jake the Snake, Tito Santana, Andre the Giant, Honky Tonk Man, Brutus Beefcake, Greg “The Hammer” Valentine, and, um, Hercules. We’re missing some favorites from earlier shows — no Junkyard Dog, Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat, or British Bulldogs, sadly — but we also get the first WrestleMania appearances of Mr. Perfect, Big Boss Man, Shawn Michaels, The Bushwhackers, Arn Anderson, and Tully Blanchard. There are no big gimmick matches, but some solid matchups for title belts, including the Tag Team, Intercontinental, and World Heavyweight championships, so that’s promising.

RS: How could you leave out the human steroid, The Ultimate Warrior? Watching so many of these early Wrestlemanias so close to each other makes you see the archetype of the pro wrestler that WWF utilized to perfection. You can also see how they are starting to welcome the smaller, more nimble guys into the business, like Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels. 

TH: A very nervous Rockin’ Robin sings “America the Beautiful” to kick things off, and for once I agree with Jesse The Body when he says “she should keep her day job.” As the Black Eyed Peas would say, let’s get it started in here.

Matches

  • King Haku, with Bobby “The Brain” Heenan vs. Hercules

RS: I guess WWF uses the “Great Gate of Kiev” for anyone who goes by “King.” Thank God at least we’ll get Hercules’s match out of the way early. Hercules looks to have lost his form, maybe stopped his steroids. This match was a bit more entertaining than the others, but it was another one of those confusing finishes with both men having their shoulders down. Onward.

Publicity image of Hercules, with chains around his neck
WrestleMania stalwart Hercules, with a chain that’s totally not from Tru Value Hardware.

TH: Sigh, Hercules again. He’s got his hardware store chain this time, but no mythical costume, just standard blue tights. Jesse brags about getting Trump his front row tickets, which I’m pretty sure didn’t happen. Just a hunch. Haku from The Islanders, back for his second WrestleMania and his first one solo, looks good, wrestling in his bare feet again and catching Hercules with a cool kick off the top rope. These guys give a good show to start off the night, with a clean(ish) finish and, amazingly, virtually no interference from Bobby Heenan.

After the match we go to a Mean Gene promo with the Rockers, giving us our first look at Shawn Michaels in a WrestleMania! He looks like such a baby here, so young that both of his eyes are still going in the same direction.

RS: This is before Shawn turned to Jesus and he was really getting into the drugs, booze, and women. You know, like a real wrestler. His behavior was so bad, he got himself fired from WWF at one point, which in the 80s was like getting fired from Metallica for drinking too much. (Ahem, Dave Mustaine.)

  • The Twin Towers (Akeem and Big Boss Man), with Slick vs. The Rockers (Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty)

TH: Akeem switched out his One Man Gang gimmick for this one sometime between WrestleManias IV and V. Jesse and Gorilla make a big deal of the size difference of the two teams — obviously we’ve got a classic speed vs. power matchup on the way. Big Boss Man sits Shawn on top of the ropes like he’s depositing an unruly child on a kitchen counter, and Shawn responds by jumping halfway across the damn ring to deliver a dropkick. Shawn and Marty make a lot of quick tags in and out to work on Akeem, then the action, weirdly, slows to a crawl until the Rockers make a hot tag and double team Akeem. Boss Man misses a big splash and Marty and Shawn do the old duck and trip maneuver, then hit Boss Man with a double drop kick off the ropes. Alas, power catches up with speed — Boss Man powerbombs Shawn, Akeem splashes Shawn, and we get the full count for a clean heel win. Solid match, including three WrestleMania first timers! 

RS: We’ve got Shawn Michaels’ first WrestleMania! Akeem the African Dream is a bit…culturally insensitive? The Rockers were one of my favorites. Tag Team wrestling has definitely been progressing since WrestleMania I. Shawn and Akeem have a fun little dance-off before squaring up. The Rockers are putting up some fast tags and quick double teams. Shawn is so good at selling moves from big guys, no wonder Vince liked him. Double drop kicks from opposite sides of the ring, wow! Akeem does a classic fat guy finish of a belly flop on Shawn. It’s interesting how this match felt set up to showcase how cool The Rockers are, yet they still lost.

Live footage from the ringside interview with DJT.

TH: Tony Schiavone sighting! He’s around 32 here, but looks 22. He’s interviewing Ted DiBiase, who’s in full Million Dollar Man mode, and his valet, Virgil. Virgil appears to be counting one dollar bills — hey, big spender! Ted’s wearing his own Million Dollar Belt, and he shakes hands with a remarkably skinny, pre-dementia Trump ringside before heading to the ring. I like that the promos are happening right before the matches, instead of four matches way down the card as in previous WrestleManias — it keeps the action going and provides better flow for the event as a whole.

RS: Even here, Trump can’t answer questions. He’s always been an idiot, even before he had dementia and whatever the hell else is wrong with him.

  • Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake vs. “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase, with Virgil

RS: So far, three of the four fights have had entrance music, but still none for Ted. We got sleeper hold vs sleeper hold. Brutus is dominating the start with his Hulk Hogan impersonation of just body slams and clotheslines. DiBiase is doing all the classic heel losing moves, like dodging out of the ring and trying to call timeout. DiBiase is selling Brutus’s punches like a real pro. We’ve got Virgil watching DiBiase’s back. (I met Mike “Virgil” Jones about 10 years ago at a mall where he was helping a guy run a baseball card table at a sports memorabilia show. He was super chill.) Brutus does another Hogan no-sell Hulk up on Virgil who was pounding him outside the ring. Oh look, a WrestleMania tradition; a double count out. DiBiase reminded me of Ric Flair a little bit in this match. 

headshot of Scott Valentine, 80s heartthrob from the TV show Family Ties, and possible doppelganger of Brutus the Barber Beefcake
No one has ever seen Brutus Beefcake and Scott Valentine in the same place at the same time. Coincidence? Image from IMDB.com

TH: Scott Valentine, I mean Brutus, looks great in a gold getup with, of course, plenty of fishnet cutouts so we can see his thighs. Brutus brings his barber’s bag with, um, hedge clippers to the ring, which makes me think his definition of “haircut” needs some revision. We get a nice close up of the Million Dollar Belt, studded with what are clearly rhinestones, and Jesse observes, “look at all the diamonds on it.” Pro tip:  Don’t ever buy jewelry from Jesse Ventura. Brutus comes out hot at the bell, and the early part of the match is all Brutus, with multiple body slams in a row and Ted selling it really well. Ringside, a fat guy in a green jacket wanders down the aisle and waves to the camera. He should wrestle Hercules in WrestleMania VI. Back to the action, Gorilla Monsoon is calling Brutus “Brutii” again, wtf? Brutus slaps on the sleeper hold and is pretty close to getting the win until Virgil interferes, resulting in all three men taking the action outside the ring and a double count out. Boo for double count outs, but yay for solid action for our third match in a row!

  • The Bushwhackers (Luke & Butch) vs. The Fabulous Rougeaus (Jacques & Raymond), with Jimmy Hart

TH: Oh man, the Bushwhackers! These guys were a lot of fun. I think they probably rode the same short bus with Hacksaw Jim Duggan. It turns out they were actually from New Zealand, surprisingly — I always thought that was a gimmick and they were probably from Alabama. Before the match we get an attempted interview with Lord Alfred Hayes and the Bushwhackers, who are taking full advantage of the casino buffet and creating a nightmare for the cleaning crew. I hope they wait twenty minutes before doing their Bushwhacker walk, so they don’t cramp up. Anyway, this is our third WrestleMania appearance for the Rougeaus, who are super sneaky and dirty here (thanks, certainly, to manager Jimmy Hart). Gorilla and Jesse can’t tell the Bushwhackers apart, though, honestly, neither can I. The action here isn’t great — the Bushwhackers were more of a novelty act than an actual wrestling tag team, but I got a kick out of Luke (I think?) using Butch’s (I think?) head as a battering ram. They hit a super sloppy move that I guess we could call a double stomach breaker slam, and pin a Rougeau for the win. There’s lots of head licking afterwards, of course, for which announcer Sean Mooney is unlucky enough to be in the immediate vicinity. Rich has a Bushwhackers head licking story that I’m sure he’ll tell anytime we see them. It’s worth your time.

RS: The Rougeaus are now from Memphis and not Canada. Ok. When I was in middle school, I was licked by a Bushwacker. It was a life-altering experience. Gorilla Monsoon is still calling Jimmy Hart “Colonel.” I’m going to have to Google this. Give me a minute. Apparently, he took on the name Colonel as a reference to Tom Parker, Elvis’s manager, when he started managing the Honky Tonk Man. In drastic comparison to the earlier tag match, there is just not a lot of action here. Bushwackers win their WrestleMania debut

TH: See, told you it was worth your time. Who can compete with that story at the cocktail party? I once went to a New Years Eve party at the home of our local TV station’s weather man. That’s about all I’ve got.

  • Mr. Perfect vs. The Blue Blazer

RS: Spoiler: Blue Blazer is Owen Hart. Not much to discuss in this match. I wonder if that’s the first reference to the Perfect-plex? Blazer does some interesting things, but all I can really talk about is Mr. Perfect’s form on everything. It’s really impressive how clean and crisp his moves are.

TH: Ooh, our first appearance by Mr. Perfect, Curt Hennig, who struts out to the ring, looking lean and mean in a simple, lime green singlet. Owen Hart, “The Blue Blazer” is in a feathered robe and lucha mask. God, Hennig was such a great heel. That smirk, that arrogance, the chewing gum. He was awesome. Gorilla and Jesse speculate on who the Blazer could be — Jesse says, “I think I’m getting close” to figuring it out. Blazer hits a couple of beautiful slams to start off, drop kicks Hennig out of the ring, and baseball slides under the bottom rope to deliver another kick. Later he hits a nice crucifix, then Hennig hits the cradle surplex (“Perfect Plex”) for the win. A fairly quick but smart, technical match from two real talents.

TH: We get an introduction for “major Hollywood star” Jesse Ventura, though it’s unclear what he’s plugging here. Running Man and Predator were two years old in 1989, though he was playing a commentator in No Holds Barred (what a stretch!) We also get a weird promo with Mr. Fuji competing in an Atlantic City Boardwalk 5K in his tux, hat, and cane. Supposedly he finishes in 19:30, so maybe he’s in better shape than we thought heading into the next match. Oh snap, time for a Run DMC in-ring performance! The crowd doesn’t seem particularly into it; Jesse says he likes it, but Gorilla’s clearly too old to appreciate it. RIP, Jam Master Jay.

RS: Close-up on the one Black girl in the crowd enjoying it. For the rest of it, the majority-white 80’s American crowd is not feeling this classic performance. What a shame.

  • Demolition (Ax & Smash) vs. The Powers of Pain (The Barbarian & The Warlord), and Mr. Fuji – Handicap match for the WWF Tag Team Championship
Mr. Fuji in the ring, in black knee-length tights, with bare feet and shirtless, bowing to his opponent.
Mr. Fuji, heel manager and Atlantic City 5K finisher, trades in his hat & cane for tights! Image from WWE.com

TH: There’s a flashback to Survivor Series to set up the heat between Demolition and Powers of Pain, and the breakup of Demolition and Mr. Fuji, which turned them from heels to (painted) faces. Sidebar:  Who are the weird guys in the gold outfits in that clip? Gonna need to revisit that Survivor Series to figure it out. If you thought Demolition was a cheap ripoff of the Road Warriors/Legion of Doom, wait ‘til you get a look at the Powers of Pain, who have the face paint and even the same receding hairlines as the RW/LoD. Demolition cut a promo with Mean Gene before the match — these guys are still scary, even as good guys. I would cry if either of them yelled at me. Mr. Fuji is in the ring in tights and shirtless as the third man with the Powers of Pain. Warlord and Ax start out and you can tell this one’s gonna be a slobberknocker. There’s some early quick tags from Demolition, beating up on Warlord, and Mr. Fuji looks decent in his brief spots in the ring. All of these guys are freaking huge, so what the match lacks in fireworks it makes up for in sheer mass. Demolition gets the win by pinning former manager Mr. Fuji, retaining their titles.

Polaroid photo of blog co-writer Rich, with the Warlord
Rich, roughly age 12, with the Warlord. Be jealous, friends.

RS:Mr Fuji is looking in good shape! Must have been that 5K. Demolition comes out looking like they just escaped a BDSM bar on the seedy side of Atlantic City. They are hell bent for leather. Monsoon keeps referring to the Powers of Pain as a mongrel team and I’m not sure if I should be offended. There is no finesse in this match. It’s like WWF gave us a flash of the future with the Rockers then dragged us backwards with these guys. Mr. Fuji is in and is really giving it to Demolition! Demolition are big guys but they can move pretty fast.

  • Dino Bravo, with Frenchy Martin vs. “Rugged” Ronnie Garvin

RS: It’s so weird to me that they have matches with no real reason for them to fight. Wrestling definitely has changed a lot. Dino looks like a unit. This match is horrible. Ronnie Garvin is gently putting Dino’s head on the turnbuckle repeatedly. It’s like slow motion. Thank God they quickly put this match out of its misery.

TH: Garvin had just a two year career with WWF, 1988-1990, but had a long career before that (starting in 1962!) He spent time in Jim Crockett Promotions and AWA, and held the NWA World Heavyweight Championship in 1987. Like Rich, though, I have no idea what he’s doing in the ring against Dino, who’s back for his third WrestleMania in a row and looks bigger than ever. Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka is introduced to the ring, but I’m not sure why. He’s not ringside for either man, just gets introduced and jets. Gorilla and Jesse fuss at each other through this whole match like an old married couple. Garvin has an impressive flattop, but Dino is twice his size. Garvin slaps on the sleeper, but Dino is able to get the rope break, and comes back with a side suplex to wrap this one up mercifully quickly (3:06, the shortest match of the night so far.) Garvin attacks Frenchy and Dino after the match, to Jesse’s dismay but the fans’ pleasure. Yawn.

  • The Brain Busters (Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard), with Bobby “The Brain” Heenan vs. Strike Force (Rick Martel & Tito Santana)

TH: Tito and Martel are back, reunited as a team for the first time in a while (according to Jesse) and facing off against once and future Four Horsemen Arn and Tully, making their first WrestleMania appearances. This one gets off to a hot start, with Martel cleaning house in the Brain Busters’ corner, and now double figure four leglocks by Strike Force! Martel and Tito are super athletic, while the Brain Busters are more brute force and double team tactics, which makes for a good contest. There’s a lady at ringside with a piercing hee haw laugh that is driving me crazy. Tito and Martel run into each other in the corner and Martel is “hurt,” leaving Tito stranded in a 2-on-1 for an extended time. Tito finally gets to the corner, but Martel refuses to tag in and walks off! What the heck! Is he turning heel? At the very least it’s the end of Strike Force and the crowd is not happy. Tito, unable to overcome the 2-on-1, falls to the Brain Busters.

Photo of 3 members of the Four Horsemen -- Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, and Tully Blanchard. They are each holding up 4 fingers to signify the Four Horsemen"
Three of the Four Horsemen, including Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard. Image from WWE.com

RS: When Arn and Tully left NWA/WCW to join WWF, they caused quite a stir since they broke up the Four Horsemen to do it. They also surrendered the NWA Tag Titles to make the jump. Anderson just looks so mean; Tito and Rick are so fast. I’ve seen the Brain Busters do about ten different things that FTR (currently in AEW, formerly known as The Revival in WWE) does now. It’s so crazy when you see an established tag team break up. Jesse still refers to Tito as Chico throughout, and Gorilla, uncharacteristically, goes along with it. After the match, Martel gives a classic heel turn interview to explain the break up, saying he was tired of being held back by Tito: “I don’t want to be associated with that guy, he’s a loser.”

TH: You can’t say that about national treasure, Tito Santana! To this point, WrestleMania V has clipped along at a great pace. We’re one hour and forty minutes into the event and we’ve already finished eight matches, most of which have been at least decent. Unfortunately, we’re about to head into a nearly forty minute stretch of filler, promos, a motion picture preview, and a recap of the rise and fall of the Mega Powers. It’s boring and exhausting and it drags the whole show down by at least a half star.

Interlude – Piper’s Pit

RS: The ring is set up for Piper’s Pit, but it’s not Piper who walks out, it’s Brother Love! In a kilt! What a twist. Brother Love begins to interview his impression of Roddy Piper. This is a talk segment on a Pay Per View. I know my dad would have been pissed if he paid $30 to watch dudes fight and just got talking. He wouldn’t be wrong. Shock talk show host Morton Downey Jr. gets introduced and comes down to the ring, ever-present cigarette clenched in his teeth, and starts immediately on a transphobic line about guys wearing skirts, then fat shames Brother Love. And now they introduce Piper and it’s really him this time. Piper has a glorious mullet. Piper is picking apart Brother Love brilliantly, if a bit homophobically. I miss Bruce Pritchard’s Brother Love character. Piper strips Love’s kilt, sends him running in his underwear, and gets off a good line:  “Does this mean you don’t wanna talk anymore?” Now Piper and Downey are jawing. It’s taking very long. This is so slow and offensive, using phrases like “mighty white of you” and “transvestite.” But, then we get a classic WrestleMania moment when Piper douses Morton with a fire extinguisher. Smoking is bad, kids. 

Bruce Prichard dressed as his Brother Love character, in white suit with red shirt and white tie, rings on every finger, big glasses and a very red face.
Bruce Prichard as Brother Love. Hold the MSG, please.

TH: God that was never ending. I liked the heat from the crowd, who were hoping for a return of Piper but got Brother Love instead, and I liked Piper spraying Downey in the face with the fire extinguisher. Throughout I wondered what they used on Prichard’s face to make it so red, or whether his hypertension was just that bad. Per Wikipedia, Prichard is still alive, so it was probably makeup, or else he switched to Mrs. Dash. 

Piper’s Pit is followed by a sneak preview of the Hulk Hogan vehicle, No Holds Barred. Tagline:  “Are you ready for a whole new Hulk Hogan?” He looks and acts an awful lot like the old Hulk Hogan, as far as I can tell. RIP “Tiny” Lister, aka Zeus. And we add a ringside interview with Trump just for good measure. As Rich observed earlier, even in 1989 the dude couldn’t talk for shit. He says “unbelievable” at least twice in a 60 second Q&A.

Gorilla and Jesse gripe at each other some more. Ventura is pissed that Hogan is “going Hollywood” (hehe) and stealing his spotlight. Gorilla recaps the night’s action for us so far — we’re going on thirty minutes of talking at this point. Perhaps this is an intermission for the crowd? Put on a taped match or something, guys. Jeez.

CD cover for Macho Man Randy Savage album, Be a Man (2003) shows Randy, in black bandana, sunglasses, and tanktop, holding a chain.
Macho Man’s 2003 rap album, Be a Man. Proof that the Grammys are rigged against professional wrestlers who rap. Image copyright Big3 Records

RS: The next to last segment of this break is a recap of how the Mega Powers united and then came apart at the seams. The drama and intrigue. We watch Hulk Hogan get his heart ripped out again by another best friend. At what point does Hogan recognize that he’s the toxic one in the relationships? Maybe he needs to be single for a while, get to know himself and heal. He lost Andre and then Macho Man. Sad! (The famous clip of Macho Man jumping Hogan with Elizabeth on a gurney is shown. I read somewhere that Macho really hurt Hogan in this bit because he was high). This is where Hulk and Macho’s real life relationship starts to get dicey, culminating in Savage’s rap album, Be a Man, with its Hogan diss track. We’re not linking to it here because we care about our readers. Do yourself a favor and do not Google this.

TH: One final promo before we get back to the action. Hogan revisits his surrealist take on Trump and Atlantic City from WrestleMania IV. Something about DJT sending a team of seismologists out to study the foundations of Trump Tower to see if it will withstand the explosion of the Mega Powers. I lost the thread somewhere in the middle, and I think Hogan may have as well.

  • Jake “The Snake” Roberts vs. Andre the Giant, with Bobby “The Brain” Heenan – special referee Big John Studd

RS: Andre is clearly in pain, as his posture is even more distorted. He looked tired and bad at WrestleMania IV, why keep going? Andre gets an early jump on Jake. Jake is definitely going to hurt after this match. Andre does his classic spot of getting tangled in the ropes. This match is going how pretty much every Andre match goes where Andre just head butts and leans on his opponent. Andre randomly drops to a knee in the match and no one is really sure what happened. Andre seems to not be able to get his legs under him. Again, why is he still doing this? The Million Dollar Man shows up and steals Damien the python! Andre has attacked guest referee John Studd while Jake catches DiBiase and brings back the snake. Andre sees the snake and rolls out and Andre is disqualified. What a weird match.

TH: Finally, nearly 40 minutes after the last match ended, we’re back to the action. Andre slams Jake into a corner that doesn’t have a turnbuckle pad. Did Heenan remove it? If so I missed it. Jake keeps going for the bag with Damien in it. Studd is standing so close to these guys; even for a guest referee it’s weird. Probably the worst match of the night so far, unfortunately. I feel bad for Andre here.

  • The Hart Foundation (Bret “The Hitman” Hart & Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart) vs. Greg “The Hammer” Valentine & Honky Tonk Man, with Jimmy Hart

TH: Hell yeah, Greg the Hammer is back again. Has he missed a WrestleMania yet? I love this guy so much. I respect how he hung in so long as an old school guy. Bret is handing out multiple atomic drops, and Hammer sells like nobody else. He drops like a tree every time Bret lands a big punch. There’s a cool slingshot move, with Bret shooting Anvil over the top rope and into Hammer. Honky Tonk Man hits the “Shake, Rattle and Roll,” but stupidly tags in Hammer instead of going for the pin. Bret recovers and hits a great cross-body, then makes a hot tag to Anvil who cleans house. I loved Hammer diving in at the end, just a second too late to break up the final pin — a little extra touch that helps sell the finish. Good match!

Greg the Hammer Valentine and Honky Tonk Man approach the ring.
Greg the Hammer and Honky Tonk Man, about to shake, rattle, and roll somebody. Image from Wikimedia Commons

RS: Bret Hart is definitely coming into his own. Some fun double team tag moves, including that slingshot. It’s hard to tell who’s heel and face in this one. The fans definitely loved Bret coming to the ring. The irony is not lost on me that the Hammer and the Anvil are fighting — I can’t believe no one comments on it. Bret is taking a real beating here and really selling. I remember meeting Jim Neidhart in middle school at a show at the Catonsville Armory. He was a cool dude. Some of Bret’s classic moves are on display, such as his elbow from the second rope (see: Bret’s Rope, a term we just learned!) Bret wins it with a dirty move, stealing Jimmy Hart’s megaphone. Some bad camera work lets you see that HTM takes it on the shoulder instead of on the noggin.

  • “Ravishing” Rick Rude, with Bobby “The Brain” Heenan vs. The Ultimate Warrior – WWF Intercontinental Championship

RS: Rick Rude has adopted his sexiest man alive gimmick. Ultimate Warrior comes in hopped up on something. When did Monster and Red Bull become a thing? So far, Warrior has done nothing but Irish whips. Now he’s got Rude in a bear hug. He’s probably already tired from running to the ring. Both of these guys are complete specimens. Rude is overselling a back injury but is in control. Warrior did his rope shake to get a second wind. A really ugly spot after a knee drop. Not sure if Warrior lost his balance or what? Heenan trips up Warrior and Rude falls on top and we’ve got a new champ. Warrior is pounding Heenan. How did people like Warrior? Oh right, he’s another Hogan rip off.

Ultimate Warrior gives a piledriver to Ravishing Rick Rude
The Classic Piledriver, aka The Chiropractor’s Yacht Fund

TH: Yesss, Rick Rude is back with his sexy man schtick. “All you high rollin’ Atlantic City sweat hogs keep the noise down while I take my robe off.” What a terrific heel move. Rude is wearing pink tights with the Intercontinental belt printed on the waist and (confusingly) Warrior’s picture on the butt. This match is a slog, with lots of rest holds in the form of Warrior showing off his “strength,” via bear hugs. Steroids are a helluva drug. Jesse talks about how dumb the Warrior is: “The guy’s got a million dollar body and a ten cent brain.” Hehe. Rude hits a huge piledriver on Warrior — those old school, “legs out” piledrivers scare the crap out of me. I don’t know how that move didn’t paralyze every single wrestler in the 80s. I’m getting bored but Warrior hits a flying tackle that actually looks pretty awesome. I agree with Rich on that ugly spot, Warrior tripping and almost dropping Rude into the ring post. Sloppy work, bro. Rude gets the win and the belt with a heel assist from Heenan, who gets about half of a press slam from the Warrior for his trouble. I guess there are some feats even beyond the Warrior’s prodigious, testosterone-fueled strength. Rude books it from the ring with Warrior in pursuit — looks like his back “injury” cleared up just in time!

  • Bad News Brown vs. “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan

TH: Pretty unremarkable match between two tough guys which quickly devolves into a chair vs. 2×4 fight and a double disqualification. Duggan ends with a huge streamer of snot hanging from his left nostril for us to enjoy. Does he not feel it? Or is this part of his cognitive disability gimmick? I’m not really sure what the point of this match was, except to give Duggan a chance to do his “Hooooo” thing for the crowd.

RS: How many concussions does it take to turn a man into Hacksaw? He’s in bad shape and looks so stiff. Bad News is tired of this match and grabs a chair. I’m with him. Hacksaw grabs his 2×4 and they’re jousting, chair versus 2×4. That was the best part of this match and almost worth the previous stuff.

  • The Red Rooster vs. Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, with The Brooklyn Brawler

RS: Heenan is accompanied by the Brooklyn Brawler! I loved the Brawler even though he was a jobber. I didn’t realize he had been in the WWF this long! Heenan is wearing an Andre-like singlet, black with a single strap. Heenan misses a shoulder block and gets pinned. Brawler jumps in and wallops Rooster and they roll out. THIS IS FILLER *clap clap clap clap clap*

A red rooster (the bird, not the wrestler)
Red Rooster, shown before his WrestleMania match with Bobby Heenan. Image from Wikipedia Creative Commons.

TH: Before the match, Red Rooster cuts a promo with Mean Gene in which he struts and cock-a-doodle-doos. Does he think he’s an actual rooster? Was he injured in the same bus crash that gave Hacksaw his brain damage? Heenan enters holding his ribs from his earlier encounter with the Warrior — good for him for continuing to sell the storyline. I’m glad I wasn’t the only one to notice his singlet from the Andre the Giant Collection. Dumb match. Zero points, would not watch again.

  • Hulk Hogan vs. Randy “Macho Man” Savage, with Miss Elizabeth – WWF World Heavyweight Championship

TH: Macho Man enters first, even though he’s the champion. Clearly we’re expecting a big pop for Hogan’s entrance, which we definitely get. The guys are off to a slow start, trying to build tension. Macho stays out of the way while Hogan’s head of steam cools off. When Hulk chases Macho outside the ring and Randy hides behind Elizabeth, Jesse advocates her getting a “punch in the nose.” Yikes. There’s some good back and forth action, but the thing I’m starting to notice after seeing *lots* of Hogan in these first five WrestleManias is how limited he is in the ring. He sells really well, and the Hulkamaniacs love the “hulking up,” but beyond that he’s got about half a dozen moves. It’s fascinating to me that his golden run lasted as long as it did. Rich will take you through the action, but you know how this one is gonna end, with Hogan posing and vamping in the ring for five minutes while his music plays on repeat. If you’re keeping track (which we are) that’s the third WrestleMania that’s ended this way.

Hulk Hogan and Macho Man Randy Savage, wearing the Intercontinental Championship belt, as the Mega Powers
The Mega Powers, in happier times

RS: Macho is in full heel mode, even stealing a kid’s Hulkamania foam finger. Luckily the crowd doesn’t like spousal abuse. I guess that’s where an 80’s wrestling crowd draws the line. Both men are tanned like Thanksgiving turkeys. Macho keeps dodging contact with Hogan, making Hulk very frustrated. This match is going at a very slow pace, which is standard for Hogan. Hogan matches are like college basketball:  the first part doesn’t matter; it all comes down to the last two minutes. Hogan gets some color, wow! Hogan’s adrenaline kicks in to get out of a headlock. While it’s slow paced, it’s compelling and back and forth. Hulk is practically out then springs to life! Big spot with Hogan body slamming Macho over the top rope. Elizabeth comes over to help him but he pushes her away. The love triangle is pulling our emotions in every direction. Elizabeth won’t let Hogan slam Macho into the steel post. Macho chases Elizabeth to the aisle but the ref runs out to properly kick her out of ringside. Time for the men to settle this. Macho is working over Hogan’s throat, “Puke-a-mania is almost up” according to Jesse Ventura. Hulk is choked down. Macho lands the big elbow but Hulk kicks out! Finishers don’t matter! Hogan is hulking up. Hogan lands three right hands, the big boot, the leg drop, and he’s the champ again. Macho’s reign is over for now. And now, 5 minutes of Hogan posing and milking the crowd. Again, he’s a heel but people like him too much.

Best Match

RS: I’m really sounding like a mark here, but it’s probably the main event again, Macho vs. Hogan. There’s real story telling happening here, but the Hogan schtick is getting old to me, but apparently not to WWF’s audience.

TH: I’d agree that the main event is actually the best match of the night, yet again. There’s genuine heat between them, Miss Elizabeth adds emotional heft to the story, and the action is compelling. It was interesting to see Hulk get cut open here, too, which I think of as pretty rare.

Worst Match

TH: Just like WrestleMania IV, any time we have to listen to Donald Trump’s brain dead ramblings. Runner up: Duggan vs. Bad News Brown, which sucked big time.

RS: Yeah, Duggan v. Brown. Hooooo!

Oh Sh!t Moment

RS: Even though it was by far the worst match on the card, when Duggan and Brown started “sword” fighting with a 2×4 and a steel chair, I gasped and laughed out loud at the ridiculousness of the moment. Nothing else in this show made me do that.

TH: Shawn Michaels going from a seated position on the top rope to a dropkick that flies halfway across the ring was pretty damn exciting. That match had some good spots, and a great first WrestleMania appearance for Shawn.

Overall Rating

TH: Overall I liked this one a lot, I’d give it 4 stars, putting it on par with WrestleMania III and just ahead of WrestleManias I and IV. The quality of the matches were good and fairly even, with just a couple of stinkers. (Looking at your crossed eyes, Duggan, and at your cock’s comb, Red Rooster.) I won’t hold Andre’s match against him, since he was not a well man at this point. I might even be tempted to give it 4.5 if it weren’t for that 40 minute dip in the middle that seems endless. (Though I’m about to watch No Holds Barred on streaming now, thanks to that preview! Update: It sucked.)

RS: This was another solid 4 out of 5. If you were the WWF’s target audience of that time, you walked out happy. Hogan beat that traitor hot head Randy Savage. Bobby Heenan got his ass beat, twice! Some middle-aged guy screamed “Hoooo” at you while waving lumber. Roddy Piper and Morton Downey Jr. were offensive so that was funny, right? WWF is now really a giant. They’re doing three pay-per-view shows a year and they have a somewhat regular prime time spot on a “big three” network. Hulk Hogan is about to star as the lead in his first movie that is going to be so big that it will spawn a wrestling feud between Hogan and the movie villain. Hulk is officially a household name. But Hulk Hogan is 37 years old at this main event, and Savage is 38. How much more can Vince milk out of them before moving on to the next wave of stars? I also feel like I should note that WCW Clash of the Champions was held on the same night as this show, again for free on TBS. It was held at the SuperDome in New Orleans but only 5,300 attended. Some familiar WWF exiles were on that card, including Ricky Steamboat, Junkyard Dog, and The Iron Sheik (hence why we haven’t seen them in a minute.) The main event was a 55 minute, best-of-three falls match between Ric Flair and Steamboat. Unlike WrestleMania IV, this time I would have picked WrestleMania V over Clash of the Champions, even though I could have watched Clash for free.

In Memoriam

Andre the Giant, d. 1993

Bad News Brown, d. 2007

Big Boss Man, d. 2004

Blue Blazer (Owen Hart), d. 1999

Morton Downey, Jr., d. 1993

Howard Finkel, d. 2020

Mr. Fuji, d. 2016

Dino Bravo, d. 1993

“Lord” Alfred Hayes, d. 2005

Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, d. 2017

Hercules, d. 2004

Jam Master Jay (Jason Mizell), d. 2002

Joey Marella (referee), d. 1994

Sensational Sherri Martel, d. 2007

Frenchy Martin, d. 2016

Miss Elizabeth, d. 2003

Gorilla Monsoon, d. 1999

Mr. Perfect (Curt Hennig), d. 2003

Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart, d. 2018

“Mean” Gene Okerlund, d. 2019

“Rowdy” Roddy Piper, d. 2015

“Macho Man” Randy Savage, d. 2011

“Superfly” Jimmy Snuka, d. 2017

“Ravishing” Rick Rude, d. 1999

Ultimate Warrior, d. 2014

Zeus (Tom “Tiny” Lister), d. 2020

Tom "Tiny" Lister in the ring as Zeus, his character from the film, No Holds Barred
RIP Zeus, aka “Tiny” Lister. Image from WWE.com

8 thoughts on “WrestleMania V

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