So following the biggest show of all time, you’d think the WWE would try to do something even more grandiose for the fourth incarnation of WrestleMania. Well, not really. Instead of the big stadium show like last year, we’re back at arenas as this year’s WrestleMania (as well as next years) takes place here at Trump Plaza. The big story of the show is the tournament that will determine the new WWE champion. How did this all come about? Well, the show will go into depth so I’ll explain later. Let’s get on to the card!
Mean Gene kicks off WrestleMania IV! Is he about to sing again? Nope, he introduces us to Gladys Knight who sings America the Beautiful. Historical landmarks of our fine nation are shown as Gladys sings. A wonderful performance!
A big trophy is seen as the participants enter for the battle royal. Gorilla and Jesse talk about the other matches as suddenly Bob Uecker, who I guess is a recurring meme on these shows at this point, arrives to do commentary for the opening contest.
Battle Royal For A Big Trophy: Participants are the Hart Foundation, Young Stallions, Sika, Dangerous Danny Davis, Killer Bees, Bad News Brown, Sam Houston, The Rougeau Brothers, Ken Patera, Cowboy Ron Bass, The Junkyard Dog, The Bolsheviks, Hillbilly Jim, King Harley Race and George the Animal Steele. JYD got the biggest pop in the introductions. Sam Houston gets eliminated immediately, followed by Sika. They’re the midcard geeks of 1988 apparently. They’re playing it safe here, no one is taking bumps which is how they did it back in the day. Children these days want to take bumps and sell and all that jazz in a battle royal. Learn from the pros, guys. George Steele stays on the outside and keeps a close eye, never entering the ring. Jesse makes fun of Uecker’s batting average, I guess because he sucked at baseball or something. As you can tell in past WrestleMania reviews, I have no concept of who is who in the world of sports. No bumps means this match was kinda boring at times. Brown eliminates Roma, then tries to double team JYD but to no avail. JYD headbutts the heels but they get it together and work on him. They beat on him forever until they finally eliminate him. Then it’s Bret Hart and Bad News Brown. They celebrate together like they’re going to split the money, but then Brown turns on him, stomping him silly and throws him into the turnbuckle. Hart is eliminated and Brown wins the match, which was nothing noteworthy. 1/2*
After the match, Hart comes back and throws Brown over the top rope. Hart then destroys the trophy. What a sore loser.
Robin Leach, host of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous back in the day, reads a proclamation about the upcoming tournament. He ends it with “I’m Robin Leach, and I know why”. What?
Hacksaw Jim Duggan vs. Ted DiBiase: Ted DiBiase has Andre the Giant in his corner, alongside Virgil. Back and forth early until an atomic drop sends DiBiase spiraling to the outside. Hacksaw unwinds some shots to the corner but DiBiase dodges a charge to the corner. DiBiase clotheslines Duggan who sells it in the wackiest way possible. A knee lift shows that Duggan was really bad at selling here. Duggan with a suplex and unwinds with some more punches. Duggan goes for the three point stance, but Andre interferes and punches Duggan, allowing Ted DiBiase to cover and pin him. Not that memorable and Duggan was pretty bad. 3/4*
Brutus Beefcake threatens to cut someone’s hair.
Dino Bravo vs. Don Muraco: This sounds like a terrible match, not because Muraco is in it. Muraco has Superstar Billy Graham’s tye dye colors since Superstar is managing him following one too many hip operations. Muraco gains advantage early and hits a terrible looking vader bomb. I think that’s what it was supposed to be; whatever it was it missed by a mile. Bravo counters with a gutwrench suplex. Maybe I was wrong here on who was more terrible. Bravo misses a knee to the corner and Muraco works over him. Muraco gets tied neck first into the ropes which looks really scary. Bravo takes advantage. Double clothesline. This is shockingly not bad. Bravo drags the referee into a forearm smash by Muraco, Bravo hits a side suplex and seemingly has it won, but ref DQ’s him for what he did. Lame finish, but not really terrible save for that one spot earlier. **1/4
Bob Uecker is backstage hyping Vanna White, who is backstage too somewhere. Jimmy Hart brings in the Honky Tonk Man, who says it’s serious business tonight against the Barber.
Ricky Steamboat vs. Greg Valentine: Steamboat is seconded by the little dragon, Richie Steamboat, who would also go on to be a wrestler, but a back injury has seemingly put him out of action for good, unfortunately. Steamboat works over Valentine early. He looks amazing compared to everyone else on this card thus far in terms of mobility. Valentine throws him over, but he skins the cat. Valentine cuts him off anyway until he floats over him and pushes him into a turnbuckle. Valentine fights back with a clothesline. Valentine looks to start up the figure four, but Steamboat pushes him into the turnbuckle and starts peppering him with chops. Valentine fights back with some offense including a tomahawk chop from the top rope. He can’t seem to put Steamboat in the figure four, however. Steamboat fights back and hits a sledge from the top rope but still a two count. He goes for the crossbody, but Valentine floats over and covers him, grabbing the tights for the three count. A solid bout, though feels like a major waste of Steamboat. **3/4
They show Donald Trump with one of his wives. He’s had a few, you know.
British Bulldogs and Koko B. Ware are interviewed. Bulldogs have Matilda, who looks very disinterested in the matter. She always looked disinterested in whatever the Bulldogs were doing to be honest. I wonder if she was planning on turning on them or something. Bulldogs say that Matilda is the only weasel hunting dog in the world so they’ll be going after Bobby Heenan tonight.
“The Natural” Butch Reed vs. Macho Man Randy Savage: Macho Man comes out in a blue ensemble with Elizabeth matching. Macho controls early but Reed counters a suplex with one of his own. Reed controls for a while until Macho Man fires back only to get hit with a clothesline. Reed mouths off at Elizabeth, but Macho Man takes control, throws Reed off the top rope and elbows him for the pinfall. Not really much of anything. *
Uecker fawns about Vanna White when Heenan comes in with the Islanders. Uecker mentions that Matilda is back and better than ever. Heenan says he has his eye on her and tonight Koko B. Ware and the Bulldogs will be coming up short.
One Man Gang vs. Bam Bam Bigelow: Oliver Humperdink was Bigelow’s manager. Humperdink’s run here is largely forgettable, though he has a FANTASTIC ring jacket. Bigelow didn’t do much during this run either, however we’ll be seeing a lot more of him later. Bigelow was mostly on offense until Slick grabbed the top rope, sending Bigelow out of the ring. He climbs back in rather fast, but still gets counted out anyway. How weird. DUD
Hulk Hogan interview. This was where his promos started to get nonsensical. It somehow went from being a promo about Andre the Giant and the fast count that cost him the title to Donald Trump’s wife and kids being in a flood and how Hulkster knew Trump would give up his materialistic possessions to rescue them. No, I have no idea how he went from point A to point B. This too was a weird one.
Conveniently, the cameras caught a candid shot of Donald Trump signing an autograph for a kid right after this promo. What a cool guy!
Jake Roberts vs. Ravishing Rick Rude: Roberts gets the heat early, but Rude bails before he can execute the DDT. Roberts misses a knee lift and this is where he comes in. He proceeded to do a bunch of sleeper holds. Thusly, fans proceeded to chant BORING. I agree, this was not the most enthralling match of our generation. Roberts finally makes his comeback, but Rude takes him down and attempts a pin with his foot on the hopes but the time limit expires, eliminating both of them from the tournament. Funny how the announcers kept bringing up the time limit during this match specifically! *1/4
Mean Gene is back with the brackets. From here it’s Hulk/Andre, Muraco/Dibiase, Savage/Valentine, and One Man Gang gets a bye due to what just occurred in the last match. Vanna White is introduced and they chat about the upcoming matches. Vanna likes Hulk, because he’s so nice, but doesn’t like Ted DiBiase, because she doesn’t like him paying for things like the WWE title. She also thinks Elizabeth is really swell. Very enthralling and mesmerizing segment.
Hercules vs. The Ultimate Warrior: Speaking of mesmerizing segments. This was pretty bad. Both guys are clumsy and missed stuff left and right. The selling here by both men was also quite horrible. Why they decided that this was a feud that needed to happen I’ll never know. They did the finish where Warrior was put in a bridging pin, but Hercules had his shoulders down as well and Warrior got his shoulder up at the last second to win. After the match, Hercules tried to attack Warrior with his chain, but Warrior broke free and got access to the chain, sending Hercules packing. -3/4*
Video package between Hulk and Andre. Pretty much the same as last year’s video package, though we see what happens following WrestleMania III. DiBiase says that he’ll buy the WWE title since he’s rich. Hulk Hogan says HELL NO he won’t sell the WWE title. Andre, whos services he gives to DiBiase, then lays out Hogan and promises DiBiase that he’ll bring the WWE title to him. They have the match at Saturday Night’s Main Event in February of 1988, which ends up in a disputed finish.
Andre the Giant vs. Hulk Hogan: Well, this was slightly better than their match at WrestleMania III, but that’s not saying much. They had a back and forth match, which was mostly plodding and uninteresting. Hogan makes a comeback and ventures for a bodyslam, but DiBiase then comes in with a chair. Hogan scares him away and proceeds to with Andre with it for a no DQ. Andre then grabs it and boinks Hogan on the head in the lamest manner possible. That is cause for the referee to throw out the match via a double disqualification. DUD
Hogan chases away DiBiase and Virgil, then bodyslams Andre again to a pop as he celebrates, despite the fact that he lost and, realistically, he should have been immediately DQ’d for the chair shot and Andre should have moved on to the next round. But oh well!
Don Muraco vs. Ted DiBiase: Muraco grabs DiBiase and runs wild. Mostly a hot back and forth contest. DiBiase misses an elbow, which allows Muraco to get some offense in but DiBiase manages to slingshot him and gets a rollup for the three count. Good while it lasted. **
Uecker gets an interview with Demolition and Mr. Fuji. They promise to bring doom to Strike Force and their legion of fans.
One Man Gang is in the ring. Finkel announces that since there was a draw earlier, he will not compete and will move on to the third round. He’s happy about that one. Now onto the next match!
Randy Savage vs. Greg Valentine: Savage and Elizabeth come out in pink attire. It’s Valentine who is in control early. Actually, he controls for most of the match. Wasn’t bad at all, but considering who ends up winning this tournament I wonder why he’d be booked this way. He does have a short comeback, but Valentine cuts him off only to get caught in a small package and Savage picks up the victory. **
More Vanna White and Mean Gene stuff. She doesn’t know who Bob Uecker is. If I didn’t watch the last three WrestleManias I wouldn’t know who he was either, honestly. I’ll always remember HERB, however.
Intercontinental Title: Brutus Beefcake vs. Honky Tonk Man (c): Something tells me this won’t be as good as last year’s Intercontinental title match. Peggy Sue and Jimmy Hart accompanied Honky Tonk Man to the ring. I’m pretty sure Peggy Sue is Sherri Martel since there was no real women’s division at the time even though she was the champion. The match consisted of Brutus getting heat on Honky Tonk man by constantly messing with his hair. Honky Tonk did a comeback, but Beefcake ends up getting the sleeper. Jimmy Hart takes this time to just straight up punch the referee in the face, knocking him out. Pissed, Beefcake grabs Hart and forces him to get a little trim, much to the approval of the crowd. Eventually, after a LONG time, it’s determined that Beefcake wins via DQ. Lame finish to a just there match. *
More Bob Uecker. He’s been looking for Vanna White all night, but instead he gets Andre the Giant. Says that his goal was to put Hogan out of the tournament, and he accomplished that. “Hulkamania is OVER” he says, maniacally laughing. He then chokes Uecker in a moment we’ve seen 20,000 times on WWE TV over the last couple of decades.
The Islanders and Bobby Heenan vs. The British Bulldogs and Koko B. Ware: Heenan is wearing a dog catcher’s outfit to thwart Matilda, who is at ringside with Frankie. Wasn’t much of a match. The only real thing of note is that Bobby Heenan was actually in the ring and GOT HEAT ON PEOPLE, including DYNAMITE KID. Yes, Bobby Heenan was stomping all over the fallen Dynamite Kid. He made sure to tag back in the moment Dynamite even insinuated he was making a comeback, though. Islanders get heat on Koko for a while, then Koko lays out Heenan, only for the Islanders to attack him. The Islanders eliminate the Bulldogs out of the equation then splash Bobby Heenan on Koko B. Ware for the pinfall. Yes, Heenan actually pinned someone. No wonder Koko was reduced to jobber to the stars status here. *1/2
Davey Boy grabs Matilda and sics her on Heenan, chasing him away. And by sic I mean chased him, and Davey sorta put her on top of him and that was about it.
Jesse Ventura is introduced for no real reason. I wonder what’s the story behind this? He poses as people chant his name. Finkel also announces that DiBiase has advanced to the finals due to the double DQ from earlier. He’s certainly happy about these turn of events.
Randy Savage vs. One Man Gang: The color coding this time is black. OMG (in hindsight, these initials are hilarious) is in control mostly until Savage mounts a comeback, including the sledge off the top rope to the floor. Slick then starts getting in Elizabeth’s business. Savage tries to beat up Slick but One Man Gang attacks him with Slick’s cane. The referee sees this and disqualifies Gang. So why didn’t the referee DQ Hogan immediately when he hit Andre with the chair? Also, what a convincing and great win for Macho Man. He at least lays him and Slick out after.
Vanna White and Mean Gene are back to talk about the finals. Vanna leaves, but Uecker comes in moments later wanting to see her. Mean Gene says tough luck, buddy. Uecker then mentions something about getting letters from a Vance White. These have not been enthralling interludes, I must say.
WWE Tag Team Championship: Strike Force (Tito Santana and Rick Martel) (c) vs. Demolition: Demolition might be a knock off of the Road Warriors, but no doubt they have better music. Yeah, I’m comparing Iron Maiden to Rick Derringer. Solid match, actually one of the better matches of the night, but the crowd was dead here. In fact, they were dead for most of this card. Martel had the match seemingly won with the Boston crab, but Fuji got on the apron to distract. Santana laid him out, but in the process Fuji’s cane got in the hands of Ax who smashed it over Martel, thus giving Smash the win and the titles. **1/2
Now it’s time for the introductions leading to the main event. Robin Leach comes out with the WWE championship to fancy piano music, because I guess he’s a fancy guy. Bob Uecker is back to ring announce. He comes out to the best rendition of “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” I’ve ever heard. Vanna White is the special guest timekeeper. She actually comes out to the UK version of the Wheel of Fortune theme for this particular music edit. I know this because in another edit (and why they did this I have no idea since they created it in house) Dusty Rhodes came out to this theme on a WrestleMania VI DVD release and it was the greatest thing ever. Uecker is elated as he starts the ring introductions for the main event.
WWE Championship: Randy Savage vs. Ted DiBiase: The final wardrobe color for the evening is white. They start having a match when Andre starts freely interfering, grabbing Savage’s leg. Story is Savage needs to keep his eye on both DiBiase and Andre. Savage goes to do his sledge off the top rope, but Andre is in the way. Andre tells him to jump. Savage backs out. He goes over to Elizabeth and tells her something as she runs to the back. The fans start chanting “Hogan”. And lo and behold, guess who Elizabeth brings out, the real star of this main event, Hulk Hogan. I think he debuted the bandana right here at this very moment as I haven’t seen him sporting it until now. DiBiase is pissed as he continues the assault on Savage. Andre grabs Savage through the ropes but Hogan comes in and kind of shoves Andre down. Andre can’t bump, remember. DiBiase gets thrown off the top rope by Savage and tries for the elbow, but Savage misses and DiBiase gets the sleeper in. Hogan then freely interferes for no reason AT ALL and hits DiBiase with the chair. Savage then hits the elbow to win the match. Keep in mind Savage and Hogan are babyfaces. A solid enough match until the lame ending. **1/4
Savage and Elizabeth (with Hulk Hogan, of course) celebrate their victory as the show closes out.
I wouldn’t call this a dud show, but there was a lot of nothing for 3 1/2 hours. If you thought WrestleMania III felt long enough, this show felt like watching both Godfather movies (I don’t recognize the third) on cable TV back to back. And at least those two movies are like, well, pretty damn good. This card was not. No match really stood out and the booking of Savage was pretty terrible. I don’t think he scored a clean win throughout the tournament and the way he won the championship was so lame. It’s one thing if Hogan was there to keep Andre out and Savage won clean; It’s a completely different thing for Hogan to interfere in the match for no reason and Savage scores the pinfall thanks to his interference. While this was a lame finish, it at least set the seeds for next year’s WrestleMania, when we see the MegaPowers EXPLODE!