Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena – Los Angeles, CA – Sunday, March 24, 1991
Gorilla Monsoon, Bobby Heenan, Jim Duggan, Lord Alfred Hayes, and Regis Philbin are on commentary throughout the evening.
The Rockers (Shawn Michaels & Marty Jannetty) defeat Haku & The Barbarian (w/ Bobby Heenan) at 10:41. Monsoon and Duggan are on commentary for this one. This is reminiscent of two years ago, when the Rockers had to battle the gargantuan Twin Towers. Michaels and Jannetty show off their speed and teamwork, and send the future faces of fear retreating to the floor. The power advantage comes into play though and Jannetty gets beat on for a while. Michaels gets a hot tag and he’s cookin’. Jannetty comes back long enough to help get rid of Barbarian, and then he drills Haku with a Missile Dropkick. Michaels follows with a diving crossbody to get the pin. Hot opener here and easily the best one in ‘Mania history up to this point.
Texas Tornado defeats Dino Bravo (w/ Jimmy Hart) at 3:11. Bravo attacks Tornado before he can even take his robe off. After some awkward and terrible back-and-forth, Bravo hits the vaunted Side suplex but Tornado kicks out. Bravo goes to the second rope and jumps right into the Iron Claw! One Tornado Punch later and Tornado gets the pin. At least they kept it short.
The British Bulldog defeats The Warlord (w/ Slick) at 8:15. Both men are tremendous powerhouses, but Warlord uses his a little more effectively in the early going. Bulldog goes the other way and quickens the pace. That’s just smart strategy. Warlord reclaims control and locks on the Full Nelson! However, his fingers aren’t locked and Bulldog is able to break it! A flustered Warlord walks right into a Running Powerslam and Bulldog picks up the win. Perfectly solid power match there.
The Nasty Boys (Brian Knobbs & Jerry Sags, w/ Jimmy Hart) defeat WWF World Tag Team Champions The Hart Foundation (Bret Hart & Jim Neidhart) at 12:10 to win the titles. Hart and Neidhart have been the Champions since 8.27.90, and this is their fifth defense. The champs operate like a well-oiled machine in the early going, but the Nasty Boys cut them off, following the formula to a T. Bret is the face-in-peril, and of course does a great job at it. Eventually the hot tag is made and Anvil is all over the Nasties. The Foundation hits the Hart Attack but the referee is distracted getting the illegal Bret out of the ring, and Hart tosses his motorcycle helmet to Sags, who clobbers Neidhart with it. Sags rolls Knobbs on top to get the pin and win the titles. This was DEVASTATING to me as a child, and even as an adult I think the Nasty Boys suck. But, it was certainly necessary to move the titles to start Bret’s singles push, so it certainly worked out just fine in the long run. On its own this is a real solid tag team match, formula stuff with a hot crowd.
Jake Roberts defeats Rick Martel at 8:34 in a Blindfold Match. People love to crap on this match, but I LOVE IT. The heat is unbelievable and they barely do anything. If you don’t think that’s talent and great storytelling, I’m not sure you understand the business. Roberts was such a great babyface that people wanted him to get his revenge, and Martel was such a great heel that people wanted to see him get his comeuppance, which makes them a great matchup. Plus, the gimmick perfectly fit into the storyline of Martel blinding Roberts with his Arrogance cologne. When Roberts finally gets a hold of Martel, he flattens him with the DDT and gets the pin. Great angle, hot match, love it.
Undertaker defeats Jimmy Snuka at 4:20. For some reason Snuka turns his back on the Undertaker after the bell and he pays for it. Undertaker slowly goes to work, wearing Snuka down. He hits the flying clothesline, impressing the crowd. Snuka reverses a whip into the corner but then runs into a boot and crashes to the floor. Undertaker suplexes him back into the ring. He misses an elbow drop and Snuka unleashes a flurry of offense. Snuka misses a flying body press and lands on the ropes, then crashes to the floor. He tries to springboard back into the ring but Undertaker catches him. Undertaker sets him down and punches him in the face, then hits the Tombstone Piledriver to get the pin. That was a solid squash to make Undertaker look like a big deal.
Ultimate Warrior defeats Randy Savage (w/ Queen Sherri) at 20:48 in a Career Ending Match. Miss Elizabeth is watching on from the crowd. Good catch by Heenan there. Both men are initially cautious, but they quickly get aggressive. Warrior uses his power to overwhelm Savage to the floor. Sherri distracts Warrior though it doesn’t do much good, as he levels Savage with a clothesline and then chokes him with two hands before slamming him to the mat. Warrior continues the abuse so Sherri gets in the ring but Warrior throws Savage at her and the Queen crashes to the floor. Savage tries to fight back but when he attempts a cross body block Warrior catches him in mid-air. Warrior then plants Savage on his feet and slaps him in the face! That’s the best thing Warrior has ever done. Warrior continues to dominate until he misses a charge in the corner and falls all the way to the floor. Sherri takes cheap shots while Savage distracts the referee. Savage hits an ax handle off the top rope. Back in the ring Warrior actually executes a backslide for two. Savage spits at Warrior and then wisely runs from him. Back in the ring Warrior thwarts interference by Sherri and hits a clothesline. Warrior runs the ropes back and forth a bunch of times and then misses a splash, I guess would be the best way to describe it. That was just awkward. Savage wears Warrior down a bit and then they clothesline each other. Both men are down. Sherri distracts the referee, which works out when Warrior gets an inside cradle. Savage is able to kick out. He hits a high knee to the back and Warrior knocks out the referee. Sherri gets involve again, going up top with her shoe as Savage holds Warrior. It backfires and Savage gets hit with the shoe! Warrior goes after Sherri and Savage rolls him up for a near-fall. Savage wears Warrior down now and does the unthinkable by hitting five consecutive Diving elbow drops. Warrior kicks out at two! Now Warrior is Destrucing Up! Warrior unloads with clotheslines and then hits the Press Slam and big splash combination. This time Savage kicks out! A distraught Warrior contemplates leaving the match but Savage denies him that chance. Sherri holds Warrior on the barricade and Savage goes for the ax handle but Warrior shoves Sherri off and Savage crashes into the barricade. Warrior has found new purpose! Back in the ring Warrior hits a big shoulderblock and Savage tumbles to the floor. Warrior brings Savage back in the ring for another one and once again Savage tumbles out. After a third flying shoulderblock Warrior brings Savage back into the ring and places one foot on his chest to get the pin and end Savage’s career (ha!). This is easily Warrior’s best match ever, with a legitimate reason for the stipulation and palpable hatred between them. They did a bunch of really cool little spots and the crowd heat was insane. This is one of my favorite matches.
After the match an irate Queen Sherri abuses a poor defenseless Savage. The demure Elizabeth runs in from the crowd and pitches Sherri to the floor! Savage recovers and realizes who it is, and they share a tearful reunion, with Savage putting her on his shoulder, and then opening the ropes for her like she used to do for him. For me this is unquestionably the greatest moment in WrestleMania history, as the previously hated Savage became an immediate babyface. Today’s WWE writers WISH they could make people care about something as much as everyone cared about this. Grown people were weeping! Both of them being dead now makes this even more emotional to watch.
Tenryu & Kitao beat Demolition (Smash & Crush, w/ Mr. Fuji) at 4:44. Heenan is so good on commentary here that it’s seriously unfair. Smash and Crush take the early advantage. As an eight-year-old, I had no idea who Tenryu and Kitao were. Kitao gets beat up for a bit and then makes a hot tag to Tenryu. The match breaks down and Demolition goes for the Demolition Decapitation but Kitao breaks it up by knocking Crush to the floor. Tenryu hits Smash with a powerbomb to get the pin. Short, and pointless, since Demolition was on their way out and the guys who beat them were never back as a team.
Big Boss Man defeats WWF Intercontinental Champion Mr. Perfect (w/ Bobby Heenan) by disqualification at 10:47. Perfect has been the Champion since 12.15.90, and this is his fifth defense. This is another great angle, in which Bobby Heenan continually insulted Boss Man’s mother, so Boss Man mowed through his entire stable of wrestlers until he got to the Champion. Simple and effective. Lord Alfred Hayes joins Monsoon on commentary with Heenan in Perfect’s corner. Boss Man is all fire right from the get-go, fighting both for the title and his mother’s honor. He controls Perfect for the first little while, and then the Champion makes the comeback. Perfect dissects Boss Man, keeping him mostly grounded. When Heenan takes a few cheap shots, Andre the Giant makes his way down to ringside to watch Boss Man’s back! That’s pretty good backup. Andre gets a hold of the belt, and when Perfect takes exception Andre decks him! It takes Boss Man a few moments to crawl over and make the cover, and he gets attacked by Haku and The Barbarian for the DQ. Sad finish because it would’ve been nice to Boss Man to win this title once, and when he was awesome. With a better finish this would be rated even high, but still as it is, it’s very entertaining and well-executed. Definitely overlooked match here.
Earthquake (w/ Jimmy Hart) defeats Greg Valentine at 3:14. Valentine had just left Jimmy Hart’s stable and turned babyface, so Hart is sending his monster after him. That works. Valentine gets a token amount of offense in, but ‘Quake uses his size and strength to put him down. Earthquake puts him away with the Earthquake Splash. Fine for the time they had.
The Legion of Doom (Hawk & Animal) defeat Power and Glory (Hercules & Paul Roma, w/ Slick) at 0:59. Hawk and Animal are pissed because Roma and Hercules cost them a shot at the Tag Team titles, so they destroy them and hit Roma with the Doomsday Device to get the win in less than a minute. P&G deserved better.
Virgil (w/ Roddy Piper) defeats Ted DiBiase by countout at 7:41. Piper is on crutches because of a motorcycle accident. It’s all Virgil from the bell, as he uses DiBiase’s anger against him. Wily veteran DiBiase takes over and starts wearing Virgil down, and when the match spills to the floor he even shoves Piper over, a super dick move. Piper responds by using his crutch to pull the top rope down and bring DiBiase tumbling back to the floor. DiBiase gets distracted by Piper and gets himself counted out! Virgil wins! The finish makes perfect sense here because Virgil would in no way be on DiBiase’s level as a wrestler yet, and it gives the feud reason to continue. Solid little match too.
After the match, DiBiase attacks Virgil and slaps on the Million Dollar Dream. Piper tries coming to his aid but he’s literally on one leg. Then, Sensational Sherri runs out and helps DiBiase! She found a new meal ticket pretty quick.
The Mountie (w/ Jimmy Hart) defeats Tito Santana at 1:21. Santana strikes early with the Flying forearm smash, but Mountie rolls to the floor. Mountie continues trying to run away, When the referee has to pull Santana off, Hart hands Mountie his cattle prod. Mountie sticks it in Santana’s gut and gets the pin. Poor Tito.
Hulk Hogan defeats WWF World Heavyweight Champion Sgt. Slaughter (w/ Gen. Adnan) to win the title at 20:26. Regis joins Monsoon and Heenan on commentary. Slaughter has been the Champion since 1.19.91, and this is his third defense. The Champ immediately bails so Hogan chases after him. Referee Earl Hebner is able to restore order but things are already heated before any contact has been made. Finally the match begins proper and both men struggle to gain the first advantage. Hebner tries getting in between them and Hogan shoves him out of the way twice before shoving Slaughter down to the mat. Hogan is all kinds of fired up here. He takes Slaughter down with a hard shoulderblock and Slaughter goes to the floor. Hogan follows him out for more abuse. Gen. Adnan takes a cheap shot and Hogan goes after him. That allows Slaughter to hit Hogan with a weak chair shot, but Hogan just shrugs it off. The crowd is going banana. Back in the ring Slaughter begs off and slyly sticks his finger into Hogan’s eye. Slaughter gets a little bit of offense in but Hogan has too much adrenaline going and he fights back with a flurry of offense. Hogan is just dominating here. He executes a catapult, sending Slaughter almost over the turnbuckles and into the post. Hogan continues the punishment and throws in a few covers here and there but only gets two-counts. He goes to the top rope and Adnan grabs his leg, allowing Slaughter to come over and slam Hogan down to the mat. Slaughter clotheslines Hogan to the floor and rams him into the ring post. He cracks a chair across Hogan’s back, and this time Hogan definitely feels it. The nefarious Champion chokes Hogan with a TV cable. Back in the ring Slaughter continues to punish Hogan, wisely working on his back. Slaughter puts on a Boston Crab right by the ropes, and it takes a minute but Hogan finally reaches out and grabs the bottom strand. The Sarge is relentless, continuing to attack the back, even delivering a stomp from the top rope. For some reason Adnan distracts the referee while Slaughter has Hogan pinned. I don’t recall what the explanation was for that, my guess is that Adnan messed up. Adnan distracts the referee again and this time Slaughter blasts Hogan with a steel chair, busting him open. Slaughter puts on the Camel Clutch (the real way, with Hogan not on his knees) and really wrenches on it. Hogan is able to stand up but Slaughter shoves him into the turnbuckles. Slaughter grabs the Iraqi flag and spits on Hogan before draping it over him. He covers Hogan but the sight of the flag enrages the Hulkster, who kicks out and rips the flag into pieces! Hogan is Hulking Up and the crowd is losing their collective mind. One Big Boot and Leg Drop later and Hogan is a three-time WWE Champion! That is an underrated match, with Slaughter really going full-tilt in heel mode and Hogan doing his thing as the virtuous babyface. The intensity was there and the crowd was hot all the way through. Classic stuff here.
My uncle taped this show for me back in the day, so it was the first WrestleMania I ever owned, and thus I watched it hundreds of times and it holds tons of sentimental value for me. Surprisingly, it holds up pretty well today and is a bit of an overlooked show. Sure, the show was a bit on the long side and a few of the matches added very little (sorry Tito). On the other hand, the celebrities were used quite effectively, which is not always the case. But the main event, IC Title, Tag Titles, Blindfold, opening tag, and Virgil/DiBiase matches are all quite enjoyable. Plus, the career ending match is amazing and has the best post-match segment of all-time. I love this show.