Sunday, March 21, 2010
20 Year Anniversary: WrestleMania 6
"You have lived Hulk Hogan for the last 5 WrestleManias for this one belief. Now Hulk Hogan, I come to take what you believe in, further than you ever could."- Ultimate Warrior WM VI
WrestleMania VI was historic for multiple reasons including its location, main event, and its significance. For the first time ever, WrestleMania was held outside of the United States. While today's WWE travels to Europe for a couple weeks out of the year to feature a British hosted Raw so William Regal can get a gigantic face pop and still lose to Christian in an ECW Championship match, the WWF in the "Rock 'n Wrestling Era" remained a national force in order to destroy the territories while simultaneously exploding in the pop culture. If the WWF was going to expand their fanbase and create a grander event than the previous WrestleManias, then the Toronto Skydome would have to host the 67, 678 fans in attendance for the first WrestleMania of the 90s.
As I compare WrestleMania VI to WrestleMania XXVI, the targeted demographic is similar due to the PG Phase attempting to recreate the magic of the cartoon oriented, larger than life "Rock 'n Wrestling Era." The attendance will most likely be similar as well because the University of Pheonix Stadium holds a maximum of 72,800 and tickets sell out quicker than Jay Leno selling out his comedic creativity for unoriginal hours of boring TV. While WM VI was the first Mania in Canada, WM XXVI will be the first in Arizona. Apparently, the Phoenix Stadium roof will retract in order to provide an outdoor environment for the spectacle. I'm a big fan of the outdoor shows because it adds a different element to the event; for instance, Ric Flair's final entrance filled with colorful fireworks illuminating throughout the twilight sky is a vivid image that is ingrained in my mind.
A sobering statistic is that 12 wrestlers from WMVI are now dead. Only two of the deceased ten made it 60 (Sapphire and Bad News Brown), and of the two only one was a full time wrestler (Bad News). Gorilla Monsoon passed away at age 60, but he retired long before WMVI. An uplifting statistic is that 12 wrestlers are now or will be inducted this year into the Hall of Fame. And only two wrestlers from WM VI will be competing 20 years later at WM XXVI (Hart and Michaels.)
As we begin WrestleMania VI, Jesse "The Body" Ventura and Gorilla Monsoon welcome us to the Skydome. It was truly a warm welcome because Monsoon and Ventura set the standard for excellent commentary teams. Lawler & Cole, Striker & Grisham, Cole & Matthews, and Tazz & Tenay all need to study from this awesome combination of the veteran heel and the veteran face explaining the rules, promoting the spectacle, and providing entertaining insight. A lost aspect of wrestling that Monsoon wisely stated is that the winner gets more money. Wrestling doesn't rely on comedy skits or convoluted storylines; therefore, the object of wrestling is to win the match to win money, prove you are better, and contend for a championship. Wrestling is a sport! Winning is everything! Don't stray from the basics!
In order to illustrate Jesse's iconic legacy as a color commentator, I will post some memorable quotes. Jesse put over the significance of WrestleMania by saying, "I've been to the Superbowl, I've been to the World Series, and I've even been to the Rolling Stones. But this is WrestleMania and I'm fired up!"
Robert Goulet gave a charming rendition of "O' Canada" that reverberated throughout the Skydome. It's reminiscent of how the Superbowl halftime show features legendary singers instead of the youth groups. Goulet adds a dash of class to the event.
Reasons to go retro: WrestleMania Carts, The Fink, Mean Gene Okerlund
Todays announcers have no personality. Sean Mooney must have been the prototype for the soulless geeks like Grisham, Korpela, etc that have emerged over the years.
Hot opener featured Hall of Famer Koko B. Ware vs. "The Model" Rick Martel
I wonder why animals were so often used back in the "Rock n' Wrestling" era. Frankie was certainly an integral component to Koko's gimmick, so why not add a pet to a current wrestler for gimmick enhancement? Mike Knox would get a huge push if he brought a crocodile to the ring. Looking back 20 years later, you have to wonder how Koko is in the Hall of Fame before Martel. Martel is a former Tag Team Champion as well as a former AWA World Champion. Koko is the singer of "Piledriver." Just doesn't make sense. "The Model" gimmick was very original and drew massive amounts of heat with his fragrance, "Arrogance." Unfortunately, Sylvan Grenier couldn't equate to the same success as Martel. The finish showed Koko tapping to the Boston Crab which demonstrates how effective the move can be as a submission finisher 20 years later for World Heavyweight Champion Chris Jericho.
Winner - Rick Martel
Pre match promos: Demolition wins over Colossal Connection's due to Ax hollering about chopping down Andre like a redwood. I miss exciting 80's promos.
For the first time since Big Show and Kane wrestled Masterpeice and Carlito for the Tag Team Championships, the Tag Team Titles will be showcased at Wrestlemania as ShowMiz defends against the makeshift team of R-Truth & John Morrison. The idea of a makeshift team challenging for the titles isn't new. At Mania 15, Test & D'Lo won a battle royal on Sunday Night Heat (RIP) to challenge Jarrett & Owen for the titles. It's very interesting how Big Show and Andre appear in Tag Team Title matches in the 20 year span. Andre was at the end of his illustrious run when he defended the titles, is this foreshadowing for the Big Show?
Tag Team Champions Colossal Connection vs. Demolition
I can't stress the importance of managers in wrestling. Managers add to superstars' gimmicks, matches, and shows. Without Bobby "The Brain" Heenan, Andre's turn on Hogan wouldn't have caused nearly the amount of success that Mania 3 did. Paul Bearer contributed immensely to the aura of the Undertaker. A wrestler like Drew McIntyre would be treated like a legit superstar if Heenan was accompanying him. Haku carried the bulk of his team due to Andre's physical limitations; however, it was funny watching Andre interfere in the match and watching the ref unable to impose any authority on the giant. Aside from the Hardys and the Dudleys in the dawn of the millennium, has there been any tag team in the past 10 years as popular as Demolition? The crowd roared for their entrance and popped for all of their offense. While Haku was pounding away on Ax draped across the second rope, Heenan slapped Ax...then wiped his hand in disgust on the apron. Pure genius! Even Jesse defended "The Brain" by claiming it was a "love tap." The hot tag lead to Smash demolishing Haku and teaming up with Ax to double clothesline Andre. Exciting finish saw Haku inadvertently superkick Andre who became tangled in the ropes. As Heenan attempted to free the Giant, Demolition executed their sidewalk slam/elbow drop from the second rope finisher for the victory.
Winners - Demolition via pinfall
Post Match saw Heenan reprimanding Andre for losing the Heenan Family's Tag Team Championships by slapping the Giant across the face. Well, you don't leave your fractions unreduced, you don't spit in the wind, and you damn sure don't slap Andre the Giant. Andre clasped Heenan, paintbrushed him with his bear claws, and tossed him out of the ring. Haku attempted to avenge his manager's beatdown, but Andre delivered some punches and headbutts to eliminate the Samoan. Andre tossed Heenan and Haku out of the Mania cart as the Giant rode into the sunset as an endearing fan favorite to close out his final WrestleMania in ring appearance. The diabolical Heenan/Andre relationship had finally ceased after 3 years of destruction, record breaking, and money making.
Pre match promos: Earthquake says a lot of buzzwords associated with "earthquakes." Editors note - This isn't nearly as annoying as Desmond Wolfe's constant ouns on words relating wolves. *Puts sunglasses on*
Also said he's "the only natural disaster in the WWF." Well, until Typhoon and The Hurricane made their debuts.
Earthquake w/ Jimmy Hart vs. Hercules
Sadly, both wrestlers have passed away; Quake at 42 and Hercules at 47. This was a squash match for Earthquake to continue his undefeated killing streak. Quake truly was a monster and his feud with Hogan served as his pinnacle. With "The Mouth of the South" at ringside barking on his megaphone, Quake was an unstoppable force and one of the top 5 big men in wrestling history. Hercules appeared to be a modern day Masterpeice especially in this match. Finish saw Earthquake deliver his finishing splash for the victory.
Winner - Earthquake via pinfall
Jesse: "Look at this crowd, all 65,002 of us."
Gorilla: "That's right, Jesse. We are the 2."
Jesse: "I stand corrected, Gorilla. 65,003...You count for two."
Rona Barrett, 80's celebrity gossip girl, interviewed the lovely Elizabeth about her whereabouts since splitting up with The Macho Man. Liz just evokes an angelic appearance and deserves entry into the Hall of Fame for setting the precedent for WWE valets.
Mr. Perfect w/ The Genius vs. Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake
Genius introduces Mr. Perfect so WrestleMania is kicking it up a notch. Having his own announcer was a brilliant heel heat tactic for Perfect. It is a miracle that Brutus never cut off anybody's body parts. This was the best match so far with Perfect making Brutus look like a true star. Perfect was the complete package: his offense, selling, heat, psychology and look were second to none. Brutus won with the Henning patented slingshot into the turnbuckle. Btw, the "Barber" gimmick was a great concept too.
Winner - Brutus Beefcake
Jesse: "I am the epitome of Hollywood. I have Paul Newman's eyes, Kirk Douglas' skin, and Robert Duvall's haircut."
Gorilla: "Yeah, but what do you have of your own, Jesse?"
Gorilla: "Brutus looks like a hand grenade went off in his pocket."
Jesse: "You haven't said hello to Terry, Tyrell, and Jade from Minneapolis yet."
Gorilla: "I don't even know these people."
Jesse: "No one wants to know you in Minneapolis either!"
"Rowdy" Roddy Piper vs. Bad News Brown
First video package of the night building up a match. Bad News said, "If you're gonna insist on wearing that skirt, I suggest you shave those skinny legs." Those are fightin words! Piper did his bizarre half painted black promo which I still don't understand. When Hotrod came out, there was a sign that said "Piper for P.M." Jesse didn't miss a beat. "Piper for Prime Minister? How about Jesse for President?" It could still happen people! Match was basically a brawl with Piper absorbing punishment for the majority. When Piper pulled out a white glove, I wondered if he was symbolically acting like Michael Jackson. Was his "half black half white" act a tribute to Jackson? Anyway, a double countout settled nothing and this feud was never resolved as far as I know.
Legendary comedian Steve Allen appeared in a comedy skit where he played the piano in the bathroom so the Bolsheviks could sing the Russian national anthem. Perhaps Conan O'Brien will relive this skit this year with Abe Washington and Tony Atlas.
Bolsheviks vs. Hart Foundation
Canadian heroes against evil Russians...Ah, I love pro wrestling. Gorilla refused to stand for the Russian national anthem because they suck at singing. By that rationale, I will not put "my hands up" when Miley Cyrus is on the radio. This was a 30 second squash which resulted in the Hart Attack and the victory for the Hart Foundation.
Winners - Hart Foundation via pinfall
Tito Santana vs. Barbarian w/ Bobby Heenan
Tito had this hilariously ugly shirt on for his promo so I couldn't hear what he said. But it ended in "Arriba!" Jesse was on fire in this match.
Gorilla: "I bet you picked up something from the Blue Nodes Club when you wrestled in Mexico."
Jesse: "Oh I picked up something Gorilla, more than once. Let's see, there was Juanita and..."
Gorilla: "That's enough!"
Jesse: "Tito should have sent his food to Barbarian before the match. Chico would have won by countout."
I love Jesse. This was a fundamental speed vs. strength match. "The Brain" saved Barbarian after Tito hit his flying enchilada elbow by putting Barbaraian's foot on the bottom rope breaking up the pin. Tremendous finisher: Barbarian hit a flying closeline from the top rope decapitating Santana for the win.
Winner - Barbarian via pinfall
Dusty Rhodes & Sapphire vs. "Macho King" Randy Savage & "Queen Sensational" Sherri
This is the first mixed tag team match in WWE history. Dusty's promo was gold, talking about how "the common man ain't no king, but he's got the crown jewel tonight." Red Herring? The Savage & Sherri combo should go down in history as one of the all time best wrestler/valet units. Their royal entrance evoked enormous heat with a crown, septor, tiara, gold attire, etc. Dusty and Sapphire come out in their polka dot bumble bee outfits looking like buffoons. Too many dipping dots for Rhodes and Sweet Sapphire. The crown jewel was revealed as...Elizabeth! When the crowd popped, I was quite saddened that all 3 women in this match are now dead.
Jesse: "Wait a minute...465? Their combined weight is 465?? Are you telling me that Rhodes is 200? Cause I know damn well that Sapphire ain't no 265! If Finkel said 565, I might believe it."
Sapphire is defintely a small footnote in WWE history. Current fans must be wondering who the hell is Sapphire? Well, she was a rotund, black woman who was a huge fan of Dusty that wanted to help him in his war with Savage. And she wrestled at WrestleMania. Just think about all the talented wrestlers over the years who never competed at Mania: Lance Storm, Jerry Lawler, Pat Patterson, Shane Douglas, Jack Brisco. Sapphire did something that they never did.
Sapphires offense consisted of hair pulling and hiney bumps. Sherri is a consummate pro who took the offense rather than kick Sapphire's fat ass all over the Skydome. Macho couldn't watch any longer so he flipped out and attacked Rhodes with double ax handles. Jesse is screaming for Savage to nail Sapphire while Gorilla can't condone any of this. The finish saw Elizabeth tabletop Sherri onto Sapphire so Sapphire got the pin. The Savage-Liz-Sherri triangle was money. An outstanding, passionate storyline that wouldn't climax until WrestleMania VII.
Winners - Dusty and Sapphire
Mean Gene interviews "The Brain."
Heenan: "When you're 7'4, it takes 2 and a half hours for the blood to get to your brain. I told
Andre; if you listen to me, you go to the top. If you don't listen to me, you're never heard from again!"
Heenan was, is, and forever will be the best manager.
Rona was chatting with Jesse and Gorilla about some dirt she dug up on Jesse. She said although the WWF guys have "clean images," she managed to find something. CLEAN IMAGES!? In 1990? Where 90% of the roster is on steroids, drugs, and parole? Where Jimmy Snuka, scheduled later to wrestle, killed his girlfriend? The sex scandals and molestation scandals?? Rona sure wasn't looking hard!
Hogan has his pre match promo.
Hulk: "This is where the power lies! Do you want to live forever, Warrior? I can save ya! Save the warriors, turn your darkness into light. What kind of a winner or loser are you?"
Hulk mentioned this line so the fans would still rally behind him as a "good loser."
Orient Express vs. The Rockers
Fast paced matchup. Mr. Juji used the cane, which makes me wonder why wrestlers don't have trademark weapons anymore. Certainly could add to any persona. Another retro aspect is when two foreign teammates would be partners and they spoke in their native tongue so the opponents couldn't understand. Put Jimmy Wang Yang and Yoshi Tatsu together with Funaki and let the good times roll. Fuji salt! Good match but shitty countout win for the Express.
Winners - The Orient Express via shitty Countout
Dino Bravo w/ Jimmy Hart & Earthquake vs. "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan
Thank God Jesse points out the absurdity of Duggan screaming "USA!" in Toronto, Canada. My favorite Hacksaw moment happened last year when Slaughter hosted RAW. Slaughter promised Canadian fans that Bret Hart would appear, but Duggan emerged and kept chanting "USA!" Slaughter had this huge smug smile across his face. Canada loathed it. I loved it. Quick match and decent brawl which saw Duggan use the 2x4 for the win.
Winner - Hacksaw via pinfall
Jake "The Snake" Roberts vs. "Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase w/ Virgil
DiBiase defintely deserves entrance into the Hall of Fame. This match was a battle over the coveted "Million Dollar Belt." A belt that meant more than the "TNA Global Championship."
Jake's promo had the best promo of WrestleMania VI.
"DiBiase, this is the biggest match of your career. Everything you stand for is on the line. And at the end of the night, you will be a victim of your own greed."
During this match, the Canadian fans started doing the WAVE and Jesse was loving it. Contrastingly, the WWE was pissed at Summerslam 2004 when the Toronto fans did the WAVE during Undertaker's match against JBL. Another screwy countout finish for a good match saw DiBiase retain his belt. Will Ted DiBiase Jr. make history this Sunday at Mania XXVI? For the record, only Ortons, Sammartinos, and this Sunday DiBiase father/son combos have ever appeared at Manias.
Winner - Ted DiBiase via shitty Countout
Akeem w/ Slick vs. Bossman
Slick was an original and deserves Hall of Fame induction. This was a short match where Bossman recovered from a DiBiase sneak attack and delivered a Bossman Slam to the giant Easter Egg for the win.
Winner - Bossman via pinfall
Sean Mooney interviewed Mary Tyler Moore and she knew nothing about the WWF. Absolutely nothing. A true funny gem in WWE history.
Now for my guilty pleasure of WrestleMania VI...Rhythym and Blues!
The Honkytonk Man and Greg Valentine ride out in a pink cadillac with two girls named Peggy Sue and THE COLONEL JIMMY HART. Driving the cadillac...DIAMOND DALLAS PAGE! They all sang "Hunka Hunka Hunka Honky Love" and it was fabulous. The most entertaining part of the show. WWE writers should study this. Valentine stammering his lines was priceless. Unfortunately, the Bushwhackers emerged and the fun ended. But for the record, thats 8 established tag teams featured on this show. I can only think of The Hart Dynasty, Cryme Tyme, Miz-Show and thats it for today.
"Ravishing" Rick Rude w/ Bobby Heenan vs. "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka
Very entertaining match. Snuka had the moajority of the offense, but Rude won with his Rude Awakening. This was Snuka's period of serving as a Jobber to the Stars and I feel it hurts his legacy.
Winner - Rick Rude
Steve Allen had a great line:
"I like Jimmy Snuka because he wearing my wife's underwear."
THE ULTIMATE CHALLENGE: TITLE VS. TITLE
HULK HOGAN VS. ULTIMATE WARRIOR
The whole show was built around this main event explosion. Key elements of this match:
1. The Intercontinental Championship has never meant as much as it did during this match.
2. The first Mania main event between two huge fan favorites.
3. This was the "Passing of the Torch."
As Warrior does his trademark dash to the ring, Jesse mentions how that will hurt his stamina during the match. Hogan's entrance was electric and you could tell the crowd was split between both superstars. The entire match had an amazing atmosphere due to the crowd on the edge of their seat. Power moves started the match with both men having an equal amount of success. The first half of the match featured Hogan in control; then the second half featured Warrior's ruthless aggression. A ref bump, a double clothesline, and Hogan's counter to a running shoulder press popped the crowd. The finishing sequence: Warrior delivers a gorilla press and big splash to Hogan's back...Hogan kicks out and begins Hulking up...3 punches and a big boot....big leg drop is escaped by the Warrior...who finishes with his trademark Big Splash for the 1...2...3.
Crowd went ballistic and Warrior celebrated in all his glory. One of the top 5 best Mania main events ever.
Winner - Ultimate Warrior via pinfall as grabbed the WWF Championship along with the Intercontinental Title
Warrior should be inducted into the Hall of Fame this year to book end the historic 20 year anniversary of this historic match.