Sgt. Slaughter was nothing more than a fresh memory when the WWF started to achieve national mainstream popularity in 1985 but became a name for most kids due to his popularity in G.I. Joe. No matter what, Sgt. Slaughter was red, white and blue down to the very sense of his being. By 1991, the United States was entering increasingly hostile territory with one Saddam Hussein and his nation of Iraq. The United States was seriously considering entering war with Iraq, and Vince McMahon decided that the best course of action was to be with the times. Sgt. Slaughter, who had been a big time babyface in the eighties, suddenly declared his loyalty to Saddam Hussein and became an Iraqi sympathizer. By January, he was WWF champion, beating Ultimate Warrior due to interference from Randy Savage.
It was a transformation that caused much controversy. The fantasy storylines that were all too common the WWF were suddenly becoming very real, touching upon events that were completely not fiction. Sgt. Slaughter’s actions didn’t help much either, continually praising Hussein while coming close several times to actually burning an American flag . He never did, instead burning a Hulkamania shirt, saying it was JUST LIKE burning an American flag. Regardless, a lot of people were debating Vince McMahon’s actions here — using the war and the situation in Iraq to sell tickets. Whatever the situation may be, WWE Wrestlemania VII was all about how great America was, and by the end of the show, it would be about how America continually triumphs over its foes.
Willie Nelson came out to sing America the Beautiful to start the show. Say it with me now — great performance!
Gorilla welcomes us to Wrestlemania, long time colleague Jesse Ventura left this past summer due to royalty issues, so instead Hacksaw Jim Duggan comes out, and he’ll be doing commentary for the first match. He’s decked out in red, white, and blue because AMERICA.
Sean Mooney is with the Rockers, who face Haku and the Barbarian tonight. Marty Jannetty says that they’ve faced big odds before, and they’ll face them again tonight.
The Rockers vs. The Barbarian & Haku: This may look like an odd clash of styles, but this is a perfect match to start. The Rockers did a bunch of hot moves at the start and looked like the best tag team of all-time. Barbarian eventually isolates Marty and wears him down. But overall he looked good here, even busted out a big powerslam. Barbarian misses a headbutt and Marty just manages to tag in Shawn at the right time and goes wild on both Haku and the Barbarian. A dropkick by Marty and a crossbody by Shawn secures the match for the Rockers. If you ever need to see tape of why the Rockers rocked, well, this is a perfect example. ***½
Dino Bravo vs. Kerry von Erich: This didn’t last long, but still managed to be a completely clumsy and not very good match. Kerry’s selling in particular looked awful. He gets the win with the discus punch. And that’s that, thankfully. DUD
Sean Mooney is with Slick and the Warlord. Every dog has his day, Slick says, and Davey Boy Smith is about to be devoured. Warlord says no one can break out of his Full Nelson. How come every big guy ever had that as a finisher? Mean Gene is with Davey Boy Smith. Winston tells him that there’s no bull in this bulldog. Winston is his new bulldog, you see. Whatever happened to Matilda? Did Dynamite get her when the team split?
The Warlord vs. Davey Boy Smith: My favorite part of the Warlord’s singles run outfit is his staff with a giant W on it. I miss WWE’s creative costume ideas. This was a super heated and actually very fun match. Warlord had control of the match early, but it soon broke down and became a back and forth brawl. Warlord catches Bulldog in the corner with a boot and goes for the full nelson and has it on for a good while but Bulldog breaks free to a huge pop! Warlord has no idea what to do so he just kicks him in the gut, but Davey soon counters, takes out Warlord and plants the powerslam for the victory! ***
Mean Gene is with the Nasty Boys. They promise to crack the foundation here tonight and win the tag team titles.
WWE Tag Team Championship: Hart Foundation © vs. The Nasty Boys: This was a basic match, since the Nastys are more equipped to brawl but there wasn’t that much of it here. The faces started off strong, but the Nastys cut them off. Bret makes a comeback and tags in Neidhart, and they land the Hart Attack on Saggs. The referee sends Bret back to the ropes as Jimmy Hart throws the microphone to Knobbs. He smashes it over Neidhart’s head, causing Saggs to roll him over and pin him for the match. This was the Hart Foundation’s swan song, as by SummerSlam Bret would be IC champion, and Neidhart kind of floats around the roster for the next year before eventually just leaving. **¼
Recap video of the feud between Rick Martel and Jake Roberts. Martel sprayed Roberts with arrogance, causing him to go blind. He’s shown wobbling around places and having cool looking contacts that make his eyes look all messed up. This is all leading to a BLINDFOLD MATCH that we’re about to have right at this very moment. Has there ever actually been a good blindfold match?
Blindfold Match – Jake Roberts vs. Rick Martel: They hover around the ring, looking for one another. What great fun. The crowd helps Roberts get to Martel and rolls him up for a two count. Lots of spots ensues as Jake tries to chase Martel while Martel runs into the ropes or touches Roberts causing him to freak out. Martel finally gets a bodyslam but Jake moves out of the way. This just went on and on and was so terrible in terms of action. The crowd, somehow, was into it, probably because Roberts got them into it by constantly pointing and helping him find Martel. Roberts finally gets the win with the DDT. Doesn’t get the Worst Wrestlemania Match Ever award because the crowd surprisingly liked this, but man did this suck. -**
Marla Maples tried to interview the Nasty Boys, but all of Jimmy Hart’s clients, including Dino Bravo, Earthquake and The Mountie got very excited and started to throw champagne and compliments everywhere, so an interview was indeed a fruitless labor for this aspiring reporter.
Jimmy Snuka vs. The Undertaker: Gorilla Monsoon called Paul Bearer “a very sick person”. Well, he did look a little pale here. Not much of a match. Snuka tried to make a comeback, to no avail. The finish looked like Taker was going to grab Snuka as he did a crossbody and turn it into the tombstone, but that kind of didn’t work, so he just put him down, punch him, THEN tombstone him for the pinfall. It begins. *
Footage of the upcoming career ending match. Savage has been looking for a title shot, but when Sherri got on her hands and knees begging for a title match for Savage at the Royal Rumble, Warrior went into some sort of orgasmic trance and shouted “NOOO” on top of his lungs. It’s the weirdest thing ever. This leads to the finish later that night when Warrior defended the title against Sgt. Slaughter. Savage interfered not once, but twice during the match, hitting Warrior with his scepter allowing Slaughter to pin him.
As Fink starts to make the introductions, Heenan points out something. Far away, near the entrance, Elizabeth is sitting in the front row. She hasn’t been seen in months. Is she here to see Savage’s possible last match? As Savage makes his grand entrance, you can see a quick shot of Elizabeth looking right at Randy as he makes his way to the ring. The little things here and there make matches and moments like this worthwhile, people.
Career Ending Match – Macho King Randy Savage vs. The Ultimate Warrior: Warrior is sporting some amazing neon colored overcoat and tights. Spraypainted on his butt is the WWE title saying “Means Much More Than This”. I guess it’s on, then. Warrior dominates early, including throwing Savage onto Sherri who tries to interfere. Warrior dominates until he misses a charge in the corner and crashes to the ground, where Sherri beats him up. Savage grinds down the match by putting Warrior in a sleeper. Double clothesline sends them both to the ground. They made sure to have cameras constantly on Sherri’s behind whenever possible. I don’t think that was a coincidence. Savage holds Warrior as Sherri tries to interfere, but it backfires. Savage rolls him up when distracted and gets a nearfall. Savage slingshots him and hits FIVE elbows but Warrior kicks out. Savage is stunned. Warrior hulks up (pun intended) and goes for the press slam, but Savage kicks out. Warrior looks up to the heavens trying to figure out what the hell to do. As Warrior contemplates the meaning of life, Savage takes him and throws him to the outside, but misses a sledge. Warrior hits a shoulder tackle, sending him back to the outside. Then another. And a third. Then he simply puts his foot on top of Savage and covers him for the pinfall. A miracle of a match, all things considering. And what a perfect way to put Savage back as a babyface! ****
Warrior celebrates, then makes his exit as Sherri enters the ring, pissed. As Monsoon eloquently states, “She just lost her meal ticket.” She starts kicking and abusing Savage. Elizabeth looks on, distraught. Finally she can take no more and makes a beeline towards the ring and grabs Sherri, throwing her over the middle rope to the floor. Savage gets up, not knowing what went on. He puts up his fists, but sees Elizabeth and stops. Savage realizes Sherri turned on him and looks at Elizabeth, not knowing what to do. With tears streaming down her face, Elizabeth finally embraces Macho Man and they hug to a major pop. People in the crowd are seen crying as Elizabeth and Macho Man pose. Elizabeth holds the ring ropes to let Savage out, but he refuses, opening the ropes for her to leave as the crowd pops again. Savage poses for a little bit more before finally exiting, his career over — for a few months. An all-time awesome moment.
This seemed to be the place where intermission took place. I miss these on WWE shows. I sure as hell enjoy them during New Japan shows, I can tell you. I mean look, yeah, it’s fun to sit down for three hours and watch a PPV, but a break in between is certainly helpful.
Regis Philbin is with The Undertaker, along with Paul Bearer. He doesn’t get much from them. Instead, they start measuring him. For a casket, you see. He throws it to Alex Trebek who starts going on about Jeopardy. Demolition know all about pain and torture, and that’s what matters the most.
Back to Regis with TENRYU and KITAO. They don’t have anything to say either until Regis brings up Toyota, Isuzu, and Columbia Pictures. They then mistake him for Kathie Lee, because they’re foreign, therefore childlike. He then pinches their cheeks, because they’re Japanese and don’t know English. Silly Japanese!
Alex Trebek is back with Jake Roberts. Roberts says Damien wants to be a participant in Jeopardy. Trebek wasn’t too sure about this, then just ran away. These were a lot of segments that filled time, they can best be described as.
Demolition vs. Tenryu and Kitao: The latter are from the Super World of Sports promotion in Japan, which WWE had a working relationship with at the time. Surprisingly, they did not come out to the Orient Express theme, but I couldn’t identify what theme it was. This ended up being pretty short. Kitao started off and dominated for a bit but got cut off. This was kind of funny as it was obvious Kitao didn’t like to sell, which would lead to events later this year when he refused to sell to Earthquake at a SWS event in Japan and proceeded to cut a promo to the crowd saying that wrestling was fake. This all really happened. Tenryu got the hot tag and quickly powerbombed one of the Demolition members for the victory. Very obvious that Demolition were on their way down at this point. Kind of sad, but that’s how wrestling goes. At least both members get new personas by this time next year. *½
Big Bossman promo. He’s here for redemption after the Heenan family have spent time berating his mother. Mr. Perfect is a prime example that crime will not pay. Heenan and Perfect then cut their promos. Perfect has the right body, look and ability. He is what he says he is, and that’s perfect.
Intercontinental Championship – Big Bossman vs. Mr. Perfect ©: Bobby Heenan, who’s been on commentary since the second match, is in Perfect’s corner. Instead, Lord Alfred Hayes is on commentary. Not the best trade in the world, I have to say. Bossman gains control early and sends Perfect reeling. They were having an ok match when Andre the Giant (who looked to be in great pain) walked down to the ring and stared at Heenan. He grabs the IC title as Heenan and Perfect are distracted. Perfect walks over to Andre and he smashes him with the belt, causing him to fall to the floor. Bossman slowly gets up to cover him, but Perfect kicks out. Then Haku and Barbarian run in for the DQ. That sure felt like a Raw main event in 2014. Andre posts the Barbarian and Haku to send them reeling. Bossman walks over to Andre after the match and they stare down one another before eventually exchanging pleasantries. Well that’s nice! Not much of a match overall. *¾
More celebrities! Donald Trump, Henry Winkler, Lou Ferrigno and Chuck Norris all said nice things about pro wrestling. Hey, they’re in LA, remember.
Earthquake vs. Greg Valentine: Your atypical squash match. Valentine took him down and went for the figure four, but Jimmy Hart distracted him, allowing Earthquake to take him down and splash him for the pinfall. ½*
Legion of Doom promo. Yup, they’ve arrived. They yell a lot about Power and Glory and promise that after they finish off them tonight, the Nasty Boys are next.
Power and Glory vs. Legion of Doom: P&G jump them to start things off but Hawk quickly downs them both with a double clothesline. Hawk wipes out Hercules on the outside as Animal grabs Roma in midair with a powerslam. Doomsday Device comes quick, and that’s all she wrote. NR
Recap video of Ted DiBiase being a rich jerk to Virgil, who took a ton of abuse from DiBiase over money issues. But things eventually came to blows at the Royal Rumble when DiBiase went too far, causing Virgil to smack him with the Million Dollar title. With Piper at his side (because…umm…I dunno) Virgil looks to take on the Million Dollar Man at Wrestlemania.
Million Dollar Championship – Ted DiBiase © vs. Virgil: Roddy Piper made sure to get a complete, long entrance. Virgil looks good at the start, but soon DiBiase cuts him off and starts to ground him down, including piledriving him on the mat and giving him chops on the outside. And while he’s on the outside, he pushes down Piper for good measure (he’s in crutches due to what they say is a motorcycle accident). Piper manages to use his crutch to take him down back to the ground but DiBiase lays him out. This causes a count out victory for Virgil. Not the best way to book a babyface, but I don’t think they had big plans for Virgil anyway. *1/4
DiBiase locks in the sleeper after the match and has it in for a good while until Piper breaks it up. Suddenly, however, Sensational Sherri runs in and grabs Piper’s crutch, causing him to fall to the floor. DiBiase and Sherri (who’s wig fell out in the process, oops) put the boots on Piper, including taking off his brace until Virgil comes to and chases them away. Virgil tells Piper to get up on his own, and through great determination Piper is finally able to do just that. So Piper’s recovered and he and Virgil are super duper best friends, because WWE really wanted to reaffirm this for some reason. I wonder why. Should I make sure to plug Wrestlemania 1, 2, and 6 at this moment?
Sgt. Slaughter/Hulk Hogan video package. Sgt. Slaughter BURNS the Hulkamania shirt as Sgt. Slaughter and General Adnan come by. Adnan says a bunch of stuff before Sgt. Slaughter makes sure to say that he runs this place and this will be contested under his rules. They show the video package of Hogan getting laid out by Slaughter on the Main Event. He says he might just count himself out or get DQ’d to keep the title. At the end of the day, he’ll be the victor. What a jerk.
The Mountie vs. Tito Santana: Extremely brief match. Santana got an atomic drop. Mountie grabbed the apron. Hart gave him the taser and Mountie tazed him for the win. That was the entire match! NR
Hulk Hogan promo. He wasn’t happy when Slaughter burned the shirt. It’ll never happen again, Sarge. They showed footage of Hogan being laid out by Slaughter during a match with Adnan on Prime Time Wrestling and putting him in the camel clutch. He’s not the same man he was a week ago. Just wait till he gets in the ring to see what kind of man he is now.
They introduce Regis, Alex Trebek and Marla Maples again as the main event starts.
WWE Championship – Sgt. Slaughter © vs. Hulk Hogan: The champion comes out first because, you know, Hogan. Back and forth from the start. Actually, it’s a lot of Hogan. Adnan finally distracts and allows Slaughter to get some offense in. Slaughter grabs a chair and gives Hogan the lightest chair shots ever. Slaughter works on the back forever and ever. This isn’t really a thrilling match. Strangely, Adnan distracts the referee and Slaughter gets a visual pin on Hogan but the referee doesn’t see it until it’s too late. Slaughter blasts Hogan with a chairshot that busts him open. Slaughter gets the camel clutch in. The theory about blood adding to a match works because this is suddenly becoming kinda cool. Hogan refuses to submit as he powers out of it. Slaughter tries to counter with a sleeper and manages to push Hogan into the turnbuckle. Slaughter grabs the Iraqi flag and drapes it over Hogan, but this causes him to hulk up again and rip apart the flag. That’s not very nice. Punches, boot, leg, done. **¾
Hogan celebrates as he grabs the US flag and poses to close out the show.
FINAL THOUGHTS: A relatively entertaining show, though still very long. I believe they’ll fix this by next year when they shave off an hour making this a 3 hour show as opposed to 4. This won’t last long, but by the time they go back to four hour PPVs they have a better sense of how to book them. As far as match quality, there’s some stuff here that I liked. Rockers/Haku and the Barbarian was a surprisingly great match. Same with Warlord and Davey Boy Smith. The main event picked up towards the end, and the career ending match was awesome, both in terms of the match itself and the events before and after the match. It kind of shows how little you need to do in order to make characters likable and relateable enough that a reunion like that can connect with so many. Kind of seems lost in today’s wrestling. Hogan was WWE champion again, and would remain so for the rest of 1991. But new people came to the forefront later this year which will bring us to the next dome show, at the Hoosier Dome that would mark the last of the great Federation era events.