Super Stars And Stripes Forever – WrestleMania VII

WrestleMania VII (1991)Event: WrestleMania VII
Date: March 24, 1991
Venue: Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena (Los Angeles, California)
Attendance: 16,158

At WrestleMania VI, it was announced that this event would be held at the LA Memorial Coliseum.  Between WM VI and now, the venue was changed to the Sports Arena.  According to the WWF at the time, this was due to some death threats that Slaughter had received.  Other reports say it was due to slow ticket sales.  Personally I’m of the opinion that it was the latter.  WrestleMania VI had over 67,000 people in attendance and here we’ve got just over 16,000.  Hmm.  During the intro, Hulk Hogan is now officially referred to as “The Immortal” Hulk Hogan.  In addition to the sudden venue change, this is also the first WM where Jesse Ventura is not part of the lineup which is a real bummer.  We get an a cappella performance by Willie Nelson before we get things started.

 

The Rockers (Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty) defeated The Barbarian and Haku (with Bobby Heenan)
If you can get past the fact that Hacksaw Jim Duggan is on the mic (which is REALLY difficult to do) and it’s a little long, this is a decent opener for the event.  The Rockers are “tag team specialists” so you’ve got to think they’re going to win this one right off the bat.  They do their little double elbow drop gimmick and run directly into a huge double clothesline by the Barbarian.  Jennetty plays face in peril and gets a massive slingshot over the top rope.  Just a reminder… Hacksaw sucks on the mic (as if that’s any surprise).  Marty goes for a cross body and gets power slammed for his efforts.  He finally gets a hot tag to Michaels who cleans house.  Jannetty gets back into the action with a drop kick off the top which Shawn follows up with a cross body off the top for the win.  Long match (10 minutes +) for an opener but a good way to start the show.

Regis, Marla Maples and Alex Trebek.  Come on WWF, can’t you do better than this for your “celebrities”?

The Texas Tornado defeated Dino Bravo (with Jimmy Hart)
Next up is Dino Bravo against the Ultimate Warrior without face paint… er, I mean Texas Tornado.  Bravo attacks before the bell and takes the upper hand before we even get started.  Tornado takes over and goes for the claw early in the match up.   Bravo regains the advantage after getting a knee up on a charging Tornado.  Bravo hits his side suplex finisher but Tornado kicks out.  Hey Bravo… your finisher didn’t work.  You’re fucked.  Dino follows that up with the worst chop ever off the 2nd rope.  He goes for it again but is caught in Tornado’s claw which is quickly followed with a “Spinning Tornado” for the victory.  I’ve never been a big fan of either of these guys so it was thankfully a pretty quick match.  I do have to say that it does suck to watch two dead guys wrestle though.  RIP fellas.

The British Bulldog defeated The Warlord (with Slick)
Pre-match interview with The Warlord (wearing some crappy Legion Of Doom gear and a Hannibal Lecter mask) and Slick.  Slick is an absolutely pathetic character and only goes to show what the WWF was able to get away with in those days.  WOW.  The Warlord talks about how no wrestler has escaped his full nelson so we can pretty much assume that we’ll see that spot sometime during the match.  In the ring we get to see these guys go at it and god DAMN are they big.  We get a couple of chest bumps and finally Warlord goes down.  Bulldog goes for a crucifix and gets slammed hard.   This is a pretty typical “big man” match but Bulldog is definitely leading the way.  He always did move great even for a big guy.  By comparison, this is much better than the WrestleMania XX match between Goldberg and Lesnar (which I was in attendance for).  Bulldog is on the short end of the stick for most of this match and then takes control with a very impressive standing dropkick.  He goes for a piledriver which gets reversed and Warlord gets the full nelson but doesn’t lock the fingers.  As predicted, Bulldog breaks the hold and gets Warlord up for a HUGE running power slam and the win.  Good match.

WWF Tag Team Championship
The Nasty Boys (Brian Knobbs and Jerry Sags) (with Jimmy Hart) defeated The Hart Foundation (Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart) (c)

We get a pre-match interview with the Nastys who proceed to make a “stink and pink” reference.  Wow… talk about  a “shocking” display of guts to get off that blast on a live PPV.  We start out with some good back-and-forth action in the early going.  The Hart Foundation is simply not going for the pin and even Heenan points it out.  Bret get overwhelmed and plays face in peril for a while.  Actually that’s kind of an understatement… he’s getting his ass handed to him for a while.  Jimmy’s megaphone gets tossed into the ring and one Nasty hits the other by mistake.  The Foundation takes over and hits their finisher on Knobbs.  Jimmy then throws in his helmet (not sure why he was wearing it other than to have an excuse to have a foreign object at ringside) and Saggs blasts Anvil with it.  Knobbs rolls over and gets the pin and the titles.  Nice match with a great heel-ish ending.

Blindfold Match
Jake Roberts defeated Rick Martel

From the recap, we’re told that Jake has been “blinded” when Martel shot him in the eye with his cologne “Arrogance”.  I remember this storyline like it was yesterday as it played out over a couple of weeks on Superstars.  As we head into this blindfold match I can’t imagine that they can’t see under these hoods.  I’m guessing its essentially  a see-through mesh type bag.  In any case, once the match gets going it’s like 2 minutes before they even touch one another as they’re just playing to the crowd pointing at one another.  Kind of funny as the crowd always points Martel in the wrong direction.  Hilarious.  Martel whips Jake to the ropes and goes for a backdrop which is hysterical to watch.  Other than that kind of stuff, this starts out REALLY slow.  I think I’m going to start my own “bo-ring” chant.  Martel finally catches up to Jake and body slams him and then follows up with an elbow drop, which of course Jake has moved out of the way of.  Not sure how many times they’ll go for the “Oops, I missed cause I’m blindfolded” spot but I’m guessing this wasn’t the last time.  The crowd is really into this one and I’m not sure why.  They start up a “DDT” chant which we just know is coming.  They go out of the ring (?) and Martel grabs a chair which he proceeds to blast the ring post with.  Per my previous point there’s no way they’d be out there swinging shit around if they really couldn’t see anything.  Back in the ring, Martel hits a back breaker and goes for his Boston crab which Jake finally breaks.  Once again they stumble around the ring until they are back to back in the middle and Jake nails the DDT for the win.  Other than the last 2 minutes or so this is a total snooze fest.  Feel free to skip.

The Undertaker (with Paul Bearer) defeated Jimmy Snuka
And “The Streak” begins.  Snuka is out in leopard skin underwear… Christ.  Taker is in control from the get go but misses an elbow after a couple of minutes which allows Snuka his first bit of offense.  Snuka goes for a cross body and totally misses.  Superfly slingshots back in from the outside and Taker catches him and goes right into the Tombstone for the victory.  Snuka is essentially a jobber here.  This should have been saved for a Saturday morning show though I’m guessing the WWF wanted to show Undertaker as a bad ass kicking the crap out of a “superstar” albeit an old one.

Retirement Match
The Ultimate Warrior defeated Randy Savage (with Sensational Queen Sherri)

Career vs. career matches are never quite what they’re cracked up to be as most wrestlers never actually “retire” (See Hulk Hogan, Ric Flair, Roddy Piper, etc.)  That being said, this one was a great match from beginning to end.  We see Miss Elizabeth in the crowd and Warrior walks to the ring rather than dashing in as he’s known to do.  This really gives an “important” vibe to this match though it does look like he’s wearing a shredded garbage bag to the ring.  Warrior takes control from the beginning but he’s not wresting his type of match.  Savage goes for a cross body off the top and Warrior catches him, puts him down and slaps him… nice spot.  Sherri keeps getting involved until Warrior gets pissed and shoves her down.  There’s a TON of outside the ring action going on here and this really should be a no DQ match.  Not sure it was a botched spot or what, but at one point Warrior does his crisscross like 5 times and then essentially does a face plant cause he’s nowhere near Savage.  Not sure who, but someone fucked up.  We get a classic double clothes line spot and both guys are gassed.  Warrior gets a small package but the ref is out of position.  We follow this up with a ref bump and Sherri comes in to pound on Warrior but his Savage by mistake (shoe).  Savage manages to make a comeback and hits his patented clothesline  over the top and sets up Warrior for the big elbow.  Nails it not once, not twice, but 5 TIMES!  Warrior inexplicably kicks out and if you didn’t by this point you know that Savage’s “career” is done.  Warrior starts shaking the ropes and “Hulks Up” hitting clothesline after clothesline on Savage.  He hits the gorilla press slam on Savage but Savage kicks out as well.  Wow.  Warrior then starts talking to “The Gods” and starts to leave the ring.  Savage goes to the top and plans to go to the outside on top of Warrior but misses and hits the guardrail.  Another crisscross from Warrior followed by the shoulder block knocks Savage out of the ring.  Warrior dumps him back in and hits him with the same move twice more finally ending the match by putting his foot on Savage’s chest for the pin.  Absolutely outstanding match.  May have to revisit my Top 10 WrestleMania Matches and put this one on there… wow.  In retrospect, it’s kind of ironic that the Warrior won this career match and he’s essentially done with the WWF at this point.  Savage lost here and he had another decade (or 2) in the biz.  Post-match, Sherri beats down Macho and Liz comes to his rescue jumping the barricade.  Hug/love fest with Savage and Liz and there are literally people crying ringside (hey folks… this is scripted).

After the brilliant Savage/Warrior match, we follow that up with some super gay backstage stuff.  Regis is getting fitted for a casket by Taker, Trebek talks to Demolition, back to Regis with Tenryu/Kitao who don’t speak a lick of English and then back to Trebek talking with Jake & Damien.  Complete waste of time.

Tenryu and Kitao defeated Demolition (Crush and Smash) (with Mr. Fuji)
Tenryu and Kitao were on loan from another promotion so you know they’re not going to lose here which sucks cause I was a huge Demolition fan.  Asian guy #2 hits a crappy looking power bomb for the win.  Piped in crowd noise when they’re leaving the ring.  Terrible match.

WWF Intercontinental Championship
The Big Boss Man defeated Mr. Perfect (c) (with Bobby Heenan) by disqualification

Pre-match, Boss Man is bitching about how his momma’s feelings were hurt.  Come on… are we really resorting to mom jokes?  For some reason, Lord Alfred Hayes is back – worst on air WWF talent ever and that’s saying a lot.  Boss Man takes over from the beginning and crowd loving it.  Hayes and Gorilla talk about the whole Savage/Liz ending from the previous match and Alfred says it’s the most touching thing he’s seen… ever.  Um, OK.  Perfect takes over and plays the heel to perfection (excuse the pun).  God damn was he great.  His hold-the-guy-and-summer-salt-over-him-neck-snap was always one of my favorites.  A while later, Boss Man is back in control until he makes the mistake of turning his attention to Heenan.  Perfect naturally attacks from behind.  Andre The Giant (?) comes down to ringside and grabs the belt.  Perfect tries to grab it, but Andre lays out Perfect but Boss Man can’t capitalize.  Haku and the Barbarian come down and cause a DQ finish.  I remember being pissed at this outcome cause I always wanted to see Boss Man win a title.  Watching this match now I can’t help but marvel at how great Henning was.  The story here was garbage as I hate non-finishes especially at a PPV.

Next we get an Mean Gene interview with Donald Trump and Chuck Norris in the stands.  Henry Winkler is sitting right there and Gene totally blows him off until he’s ready to talk to him.  Hilarious.

Earthquake (with Jimmy Hart) defeated Greg Valentine
Blubberquake and Valentine.  Why does Earthquake flex… ever?  Total squash match here (no pun intended).  Wonder who Hammer pissed off to be in this position?

The Legion of Doom (Hawk and Animal) defeated Power and Glory (Paul Roma and Hercules) (with Slick)
The first appearance for the LOD in a WrestleMania event.  Couple of decent spots with Hawk hitting a double clothesline and Animal catching Roma off the top into a nasty looking power slam.  LOD hits the Doomsday Device and it’s over.  Essentially another squash.  I’m not a big fan of tag wrestling and this was only so so.   If you’re looking for a tag match to watch on this card definitely go with the Rockers opener.

Virgil (with Roddy Piper) defeated Ted DiBiase by countout
For the life of me, I can’t remember how Piper go inserted into this feud so I can’t tell you why in God’s name he’s with Virgil.  Million Dollar Man looking stupid at the get go with Virgil taking control.  Props to DiBiase for making himself look so bad and Virgil so good.  Crowd totally not into it and it sounds like a bingo hall.   No that isn’t a reference to ECW… it actually sounds like a bingo hall.  Not sure if it’s the bad attendance or bad acoustics in the building.  DiBiase takes over with a piledriver and goes methodical heel on Virgil really slowing the pace.  On the outside, DiBiase blasts Piper who’s on crutches for this bout.  Piper uses the crutch to bring DiBiase over the top rope where he subsequently gets counted out.  This is back in the day where people gave a shit about a count out win, so Virgil celebrates like he just gave birth.  DiBiase gets the Million Dollar Dream after the match and Piper blasts him with the crutch to make the save.  Sensational Sherri comes down to help out DiBiase and they give a bad beat down to Piper’s bad leg.  DiBiase is playing ruthless heel here… more so than I remember.  I’ve always thought of him as that Ric Flair type villain where he’ll cheat to win but have never thought of him as a really brutal heel.  This seems out of character but I might just be remember wrong.  Virgil and Piper have a “hug it out bitch” moment after the match.

After this, we get a nice little recap of the Hogan/Slaughter match up.  No matter how many times I hear it, “Pukeamaniacs” is still funny.

The Mountie (with Jimmy Hart) defeated Tito Santana
Whip to the ropes with the first move of the match.  Leapfrog and Tito hits the flying forearm.  Noggin knocker on the outside on Mountie and Hart.  Mountie hits Tito with the cattle prod and the match is over in less than 2 minutes.  Poor Tito.  I wish I knew what he did to become a jobber.  He deserves better.

WWF Championship
Hulk Hogan defeated Sgt. Slaughter (c) (with General Adnan)

Typical Hogan interview beforehand.  Once again the “F” is beeped out when he references WWF on this version of the DVD.  More recap/footage of Slaughter and Hogan.  There’s a shot in here where Slaughter has Hogan in the camel clutch and Adnan is showing the title belt to Hogan.  One problem… he’s got the belt upside down.  Hogan proceeds to rip off his shirt during the interview.  Slaughter is introduced first into the ring which always pisses me off.  Even if they’re a heel, the champ should come to the ring second.  Always.  Hogan’s “Real American” hits and he’s got himself a new shirt for his entrance.  He’s officially announced as “The Immortal” Hulk Hogan which is kind of gay if you ask me.  Seeing Hogan here one specific movie quote came to mind: “Jesus… didn’t that guy ever have hair?”  Lock up early and Hogan pushes the ref out of the way.  Crowd REALLY hot.  They’ve mentioned multiple times that Hogan can’t win the title on a count out or a DQ.  Slaughter grabs a chair on the outside and hits Hogan with it in plain view of the ref.  Hogan no sells it and we don’t get a DQ.  I have this as my Top WrestleMania Matches and in re-watching is I’m realizing it’s actually pretty terrible from a wrestling standpoint (not that Hogan ever has any “good” matches).  We get some good old back-raking action which can only be described as awesome.  Hogan in control and really giving Slaughter a beating.  Hogan for some reason goes to his aerial assault and of course gets caught when Adnan holds his leg.  This allows Slaughter to take over with a ton of heelish tactics.  More chair shots with no DQ as well as a mic cord choking Hogan out.  Sarge goes to work on the lower back with punches, boots and a Boston crab.  Hogan is essentially under the rope but decides to try and power out anyhow.  When he can’t he goes to the ropes and Slaughter thinks he’s won.  Slaughter continues to pound on the back and Adnan distracts the ref.  Slaughter covers Hogan for like a day but Adnan is still yapping.   Chair shot to Hogan and he’s busted wide open – GREAT crimson mask.  Camel Clutch in the middle of the ring on a bloody Hogan.  He finally breaks it but runs into a turnbuckle and is down for the count.  Sarge brings in the Iraq flag and places it over Hogan and goes for the cover.  Hogan kicks out, rips the flag and “Hulks Up” for the victory.  This is the quintessential Hulk Hogan moment which is why it’s one of my favs.  Match sucks, but if you’re a Hogan fan you’ll love it.

General Thoughts

  • There was a dark match on the card where Koko B. Ware actually won a match and beat the Brooklyn Brawler.  Fuck Koko.
  • I wonder if Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart is pissed that he never got his own entrance theme?
  • Jimmy Hart must keep airbrushers in business with all of his custom made jackets.  They are AWESOME.
  • It’s amazing to look back on some of the story lines and realize just how LONG they took to develop.  With the advent of monthly PPVs you just don’t get that kind of build these days.
  • A couple times its mentioned that this is the “largest PPV audience in history”.  Wish I knew what the number was.
  • Weird that there are very few match recaps during these old Mania events.
  • The Hogan/Slaughter match made my Top WrestleMania Matches as an honorable mention.  Watching this show again, the Warrior/Savage match should be the one that represents this show.
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