Triple H, October 2011:

“When I grew up, I hated Hogan. I thought he was terrible and didn’t like to watch him. I was like Punk in a way. I liked the Steamboats and Flairs and the ones that could go. Would I be right in saying that Hogan was the wrong guy to go with, and they should’ve changed directions and gone with Steamboat because he was the better wrestler? Ludicrous.” - Triple H. October, 2011.

Summer Slam 1990

Saturday, December 31, 2005

VI and the build to this are here.

Summerslam –1990 (Philly)(Dark – Jim Neidhart d. Greg Valentine)

Okay, Jesse left a couple of weeks before, not working the previous TV tapings. Gorilla has worked recent tapings, so one assumes he's healthy enough to go - and if so, he goes - his partner is Piper, who gets the full introduction, Scotland the Brave taking him to the announce. Piper is full heel, as he's been managing Jake.

1. Demolition Smash and Crush d. White Flight: Hercules/Warlord
-Yeah, screw you, you’ll take your Smash and Crush and like it. Herc and Warlord, two members of the gay fascist bodybuilder stable White Flight, lose to the new Demolition - following the match - Smash and Crush are attacked by Ax, who was punked out at VI.

Ax isn't alone - also in the Demolition gear is Dino Bravo.

And so, over the fall, we're going to feud over the Demolition name. Smash/Crush v. Ax/Bravo - building up to the winner take all match at Survivor Series.

2. Ultimate Warrior (w/White Flight) d. Bad News Brown (w/Haku)
I don’t much like these cards either. Warrior cuts some type of "pull yourself up by your boostraps and stop living off the government dole, you welfare queen" promo on Bad News
pre match - he uses the numbers advantage to go over. Everyone's gotta bleed.

3. Dusty Rhodes d. Hulk Hogan
-Heel Dusty gets a win when his son, young Dustin, debuts in the WWF and hits what, years later, will be called the Curtain Call on Hogan. Everybody bleeds here too.

4. Kerry Von Erich d. Shane Douglas
-This is a crappy show. The KVE push continues. Young Shane grows increasingly bitter.

5. Shawn Michaels d. Tito Santana
There’s a reason why Shawn’s real first feud was Tito, and then Martel, even though they were both heels – these guys were good at working through a match, letting the other guy get in his stuff, keeping it on time, keeping it working. Shawn’s on the singles run now. No Sherri, however. Please, no Sherri. Shawn's got the new music - he needs someone to come out and carry a mirror...he's gonna get Hunter's early gimmick of bringing different women to the ring...Shawn's gonna bring a different woman each time he enters, she brings the mirror so he can preen. Shawn with the flying forearm.

6. Tags: Orient Express d. Marty/Rude
Switch. Roll that one around in your brain, Chico. Orient Express – WWF Tag champs. And it’s Rude who gets pinned. This is a fairly surprising result (clean pin too). Rude refuses Marty’s aid in getting up, instead he walks out of the ring – and never comes back. Tanaka and Diamond, career jobbers, really, seem shocked with the switch, almost breaking the Japanese stoic heel personas to celebrate the title – then come the roar of motorcycles down the aisle…

It’s the Road Warriors. Recall, they held the NWA tag titles for over 2 years before dropping to the Steiners earlier this year – they’re monster faces – they hit the ring, Doomsday Device on both guys – burying the new champs and getting the huge face pop.

7. IC: Bret Hart d. Jake Roberts
Piper stays on the announce, rooting for Jake. Bret’s second run continues as he wrings the very last drop of good wrestling from the body of Jake Roberts. Which is what he did of course, he was Bret Hart, that’s his job. Following the match, Bret is superkicked by Shawn – Shawn and Jake attack Bret, save by Marty Jannetty.

8. WWF Title: Cage Match: Curt Hennig (w/Brain) d. Randy Savage
Using convoluted wrestling logic, because the WWF could no longer control Savage – they decided the only way to protect everyone from him – was to lock him in a cage. Recall the prematch stip that undercard fat guy tags, The Natural Disasters, are guarding the door so no one can get in or out until the fall.

This allows Perfect to do what he did – bump like a freak – Savage goes hardcore – pulling a fork from his tights, and Hennig bleeds like we haven’t seen anyone bleed before in the WWF. Fork, Fork, Fork, Fork to Hennig - Randy just carves him up. It's a match so graphic, it'll never be seen on WWF TV again.

The fans freak out – Savage doesn’t seem interested in pinfalls, he's wild, completely out of control – Bobby desperately tries to open the door but the Natural Disasters have their orders and won't let anyone through– as Savage continues to destroy Hennig with the fork. Blood everywhere, Hennig being tossed around – Savage really dominating much of the match – Hennig shows his guts by hanging in there even though he’s doing the crimson mask – match turns when Savage misses the elbowdrop from the top of the cage...

and the Natural Disasters enter. The Quake and Tugboat doublesplash Savage, then scrape Hennig off the mat and drop him atop Savage for the fall. This makes Curt 3 for 3 against Savage in PPV main events.

Bobby props the bloody Perfect up, trying to stop the blood flow with the trademark white towel, which quickly turns crimson.

DiBiase comes down the aisle with briefcase - handing it to the Disasters as they exit - shaking hands with both of them - DiBiase saying, "That's another one, Brain. Everybody's got a price, for the Million Dollar Man."

The show ends with Savage rising, attacking the bloody Hennig who is being propped up by Bobby. Savage attacks Bobby with the fork – attacks WWF officials with the fork – he has to be restrained by most of the locker room, faces and heels, holding him back, he is the portrait of a man who has totally lost his mind.

On the road to Survivor Series, they continue to push KVE – who now is positioned as the number one contender.

SSeries is the one year anniversary of Hennig winning the strap – and in the PPV era – Savage, Dynamite, Steamboat – none of them held the belt longer than a year. So that’s the story, can Hennig break the one year mark. Randy’s gone – apparently locked up somewhere as Bobby threatens to sue the company for an unhealthy work environment claim if Savage is ever allowed in any building where they are doing a show again. DiBiase, returning after that Number One contender loss to Savage before Mania, helps Bobby again by hiring private security forces to guard each arena. Hennig has a phalanx of Secret Service like officers with him at all times - I mean like a dozen, two dozen guys in black suits, sunglasses, ear pieces, all swarming him whenever he's not in the ring. But we never see Savage. There's a spot, say where they work a fan leaping the railing like fans do - and the security guards just envelope him. Fan does the stretcher job. Hennig is all business in this stretch, no smirking, he gets in the ring, finishes off his opponent, and leaves - Bobby does the full freak out promos,

..hey, here's what else they can do - the Secret Service can frisk everyone before they get in the ring with Hennig - Gene, Howard, opponents -- everyone. Maybe Gene gets thrown out of the building once because security says he's a risk.

...anyway, Bobby's still freaking out about Savage, and while this is played over the top obviously, everyone is kinda creeped out by how unhinged Savage is. And no one has seen him since Summer Slam.

At every opportunity, Ted, who is footing the bill for security reminds Bobby that he owes him one. Hennig questions what it is Ted wants - Bobby nervously changes the subject.

They continue Hogan/Dusty, now with Dustin as the instigator - Dustin tells his pop that he's been disrespected too long - we learn that Dustin convinced dad to turn on Hogan - when Dusty thinks they've crossed the line - Dustin is there to set him straight. They're gonna do some garbage match to blow this off at Survivor Series - let's say some type of coal miner's glove match - okay, during this portion of the feud, Dustin takes a baseball bat to Hogan, that's the thing Dusty thinks crossed the line -- so, they're gonna put a baseball bat on a pole, whomever gets it can use it.

Marty’s singles career starts in a feud with Martel – who is going strong again after losing to Tito at VI. The Warriors squash every tag team in the company, ‘cept for the two Demolitions, as they await their title shot at SSeries.

Michaels takes another run at Bret - dresses like him for one match, does the whole sunglasses spot, does the hands extended spot, mangles the best there is, etc...catchphrase. Michaels works the match like Bret - the legsweep and the elbowdrop and the sharpshooter, then takes the mic and says, "Worst match of my life."

Michaels then meets the Anvil in a singles, beats him and then smashes the mirror over his head. So, we've got that.

And those mysterious power outages continue….Death Comes to the WWF, Thanksgiving Night - Survivor Series.

It's Survivor Series '90! Call your thing!

Wrestlemania VI 1990

Rumble '90 and the build for this is here.

Wrestlemania VI – 1990 Toronto
(Dark – Jacques Rougeau d. Bad News Brown )

A note - this show shuts down the only announce team used thusfar, at Mania, Gorilla and Jesse, as Ventura moves down the road.

1. Orient Express d. Demolition
-We welcome Kato and Tanaka! Okay, Pat Tanaka and Paul Diamond, but masks make all the difference. Ax gets pinned, entire story of match is Ax, Ax is old, Ax can’t keep up. We hate Ax. Following the match, the Demolition music hits again, and down the aisle walks another guy in Demolition gear! Wha? Huh? Wha?

So, it’s Crush, you know. He and Smash punk out Ax – and the new Demolition is born.

2. Cage Legend's Match: Hulk Hogan d. Dusty Rhodes (Andre - guest referee)
-Andre won the legend's matches in 1-4, Hogan won at 5 and now takes 6. Dusty’s turned heel on run up to the show after their split on the Main event. Feud will continue.

3. Kerry Von Erich d. Ultimate Warrior (w/ White Flight)
-Mercifully short. KVE hits discus punches on all of White Flight and begins his run.

4. Tito Santana d. The Male Model Rick Martel
No Entourage, selling their beating from Savage at the Rumble. Chico finally beats Martel. Emotional for people who care about that kinda thing.

5. Ted DiBiase (w/Virgil) d. Dino Bravo
-The good people of Toronto aren't happy here, as their hometown boy takes his beating. Ted looks into the camera, "Bobby, I'm coming to collect," and laughs.

6. Tags: Marty/Rude d. Jake/Piper
-Switch. Unlikely face tag team takes the straps – Marty getting the fall on Piper. It’s Marty’s second tag title – big face pop. Rude grabs both tag belts after the match and poses in the ring, Marty apparently does not notice, as his exictement is palpable. Piper has to take the fall.

7. IC Title: Bret Hart d. Shawn Michaels
All the Canadians happy. Take a picture, because it's underway.

It's not a complicated storyline - Bret's the somewhat tortured, morally upright , conscience of the WWF. He's Shane (not McMahon, as in "Come Back, Shane). Michaels is the cockiest guy who ever walked the planet. Both are still developing these personnas in 1990 - and as Bret's family returns - and Shawn's buddies join up - the Hart Foundation and the Clique will be the warring families that will drive the engine of the WWF, regardless of they're fighting each other or among themselves.

Here, it's just beginning - Bret's far ahead of Shawn at this point, both men tag champs, but this is Bret's second IC run and Shawn's just going singles here.

After Bret's win, he takes to a buckle to wave the Maple Leaf -- Shawn attacks from behind, puts the boots to Bret and grabs the Canadian flag (quelle horreur!) sprinting down the aisle comes the Anvil, gone since Survivor Series '88 after he aligned with Davey Boy against Bret.

Anvil saves Bret - he and Bret do the Hart Attack on Michaels - and it's the big Canadian pop here at Wrestlemania VI.

8. WWF Title: Curt Hennig (w/Brain) d. Randy Savage
Perfect retains clean. He wins his rematch with Savage and walks out of WM VI as the world champion. I like the visual of Hennig tossing the title over his shoulder to Bobby.

Perfect's swerved Randy out of his belt - they took out Liz - and now at Wrestlemania VI, he hits the Perfect Plex to keep the belt.

Savage is distraught, holding his head in his hands after the fall - remaining alone in the ring as Hennig and Bobby walk up the aisle (both men bleeding) triumphantly.

At the Great American Bash in June, the PPV debut of the new monster heel – Vader – beating a young man named Mark Callous, soon to appear somewhere else. Sting went over Pillman, the Steiners, Arn, and Flair all kept their belts.

Great American Bash – 1990 Baltimore
NWA Title: Ric Flair d. Harley Race
US Title: Arn Anderson d. Paul Orndorff
Tags: Steiners d. Rock n Roll Express
Sting d. Pillman

Vader d. Mark Callous
Doug Furnas d. Tommy Rich
Lex Luger d. Tom Zenk
Midnight Express d. Southern Boys

On the road to SummerSlam... Savage’s fury now impacts the entire company, as he interrupts undercard matches, attacking faces and heels alike, and we, you know, get the unbalanced, coked up Savage. No Elizabeth, no belt – but now he hasn’t been screwed, he’s lost clean, and the makes him even madder. Hennig can’t appear without Savage attacking. He’s lost control.

Eventually he is barred from all WWF arenas - he, of course, shows up anyway, just randomly attacking, and is led away in handcuffs by security each time. Savage finally gets ahold of Hennig and leaves him bloody - the decision from the WWF is to grant Savage one and only one more title shot - but because Savage is a danger to the entire Federation, they're going to put the match in a steel cage, with the door guarded by the Natural Disasters, Earthquake and Tugboat. No one gets in - no one gets out.

Jake is hot for the IC belt – he hasn’t had a singles shot in 4 years and vows to bring evil into the life of the Hit Man. Piper is back in the role of Jake's manager, between the two of them there's enough dastardly deeds to carry the program.

The Von Erich push continues. The Dusty/Hogan feud continues. Shawn moves forward after losing the IC shot, doing the Heartbreak Hotel and calling out Tito Santana as his stepping stone to glory. The Ultimate Warrior takes his message or racial purity out on Bad News Brown. Meanwhile, arenas across the country will sporadically go dark – and flashing on the screen will be a bolt of lighting and the words “Death is Coming – Thanksgiving Night.”

It's SummerSlam '90 from the not yet hardcore mecca of Philadelphia. Call your thing!

Royal Rumble 1990

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Royal Rumble -1990 Orlando(Dark – Bad News/Haku d. Poffo/Roma)

You can find the end of the 80s here.

Tony and Jesse.

1. Hogan/Dusty d. Powers of Pain (w/ Warrior and Hercules)
-Some people will like Hogan/Big Dust. They go over strong - clean house on White Flight.

2. Tito Santana d. Ron Garvin

3. Greg Valentine d. Terry Taylor
-At some point, you should begin to question your desire to purchase Royal Rumble ’90. Valentine gets the win, this wraps up Terry Taylor.

4. The Mountie Jacques Rougeau d. Ray Rougeau
-The brothers explode!

5. The Male Model Rick Martel (w/Entoruage) d. Randy Savage (DQ)
Recall, Martel has been unbeaten since the heel turn – and we give his heat to Savage, who just lost the big strap at Survivor Series. No Elizabeth, when Bobby busted her open that served to write her out of the storyline. Allows Randy not to turn heel – but to get nastier, which we need now that his skills are starting to erode.

Savage just overwhelms Martel, he's violent, out of control, he chairshots the entire Entourage, and that's a lot of chairshots in 1990 - Savage shows no interest in the match - he doesn't lock up, he doesn't notice as he's DQ'd for chairshotting Martel. He rips the steel steps from ringside, places them in the ring, puts Poffo, who was unable to escape, on the steps, and drops the big elbow. Savage doesn't acknoweldge the crowd at all.

6. Tags: Jake Roberts / Roddy Piper d. Rockers
Switch. Piper wins his second belt. This is a blood feud, recall the shower scene from Saturday Night’s Main Event. Jake and Roddy can work this match, they have enough left in the tank to make this one double fun against the pure babyfaces. It appears to be a rerun of the Brainbusters, save that while the Busters were the technically sound vets, Jake and Piper are the half crazy vets.

Marty is your face in peril, in the ring most of the match, he finally makes the hot tag to Sbawn….who steps away from the tag….completely taking Marty, and the crowd, by surprise – Shawn walks away from the ring, shaking his head as if "nah, I don't think I want anything to do with those guys" and Marty takes his beatin’. A DDT finishes him off and the belts switch.

On the road to VI, they do the Rocker breakup angle, Shawn apologizes, Marty takes him back, rinse, repeat. Somewhere, we’ll find a plate glass window for Shawn to shove Marty through on Superstars to end it for good.

7. IC: Bret Hart d. Ted Dibiase (w/Virgil)
2 time IC Champ. Ted’s a transition champ, Vince straps up who is now the top babyface in the company. Hit Man lost this title a year before to Hennig, and now both of them are champions.

Bret's now Bret, full on Hit Man, the conscience of the WWF, carrying the legacy of the Hart Family, the legacy of Stampede Wrestling.

8. WWF Title: Curt Hennig (w/Bobby) d. Rick Rude
Hennig keeps. It’s the rematch from their series in ’89, when Rude beat Hennig both times. Here, the crowd finally gets to cheer for Rick Rude – and he loses. And loses clean. A terrific match, but we establish the truth of the matter – Hennig’s better.

Perfect is at the top of the heap – and is attacked by Savage, Savage is brutal, beating Hennig down with a chair until he’s pulled off by officials. They get the face pop as the show ends.

A month later, NWA has Wrestlewar. Sid wins, Shane Douglas gets a win, but then is attacked by – Terry Taylor. Taylor beats Douglas down, the other Horsemen (Flair, AA, Pillman) enter, presumably to save Douglas – but instead join the beating. They all hold up the fingers – Terry Taylor joins the Four Horsemen.

Cactus Jack gets a win, Pillman gets a win, The Steiners take the tag belts in a four star match against the Warriors. AA takes the US title from Sting, and Flair keeps the World belt by beating Luger (now a face, recall he got booted from the Horsemen when AA came back.)

Wrestlewar – 1990 Greensboro
NWA Title: Ric Flair d. Lex Luger
US Title: Arn Anderson d. Sting
Tags: Steiners d. Road Warriors
Brian Pillman d. Tom Zenk

Cactus Jack d. Kevin Sullivan
Shane Douglas d. Johnny Ace
Sid d. Dan Spivey
Rock n Roll Express d. Midnight Express

Later that month, The Main Event (Friday night, I think this would have been the one with Buster Douglas) Bret opens the show in the ring with Gene. Talks about WM VI coming from Toronto – and he will show his home country why he’s the best there is, best there was, best there ever will be….and then...Michaels.

Michaels hits the ring, with his crazy sunglasses and baby fat and feathered hair. Bret says he should be with Marty instead of interrupting his TV time. Shawn he and Marty (as the breakup isn't quite over) are gonna be just fine, and asks Bret where his tag team partner is these days. Bret tells Shawn this new attitude of his is starting to wear thin, that he's always liked him, that he's looked out for he and Marty when they had trouble with the Busters, that he knows what it's like to be a kid trying to make it in the WWF - but now, he's coming off like kind of an ass.

Shawn superkicks him cold. Then berates himself as he leaves, the announce sells him as hotheaded, as he hasn't fully blown heel yet.

On a subsequent show, Shawn tries to apologize, Bret refuses, Shawn gets pissed and says he thinks Bret's the one with the attitude, always walking around the locker room like a tough guy - Bret puts a finger in Shawn's face - "Out of respect to your partner, who is still a good guy, I'm gonna turn and let this go - if you don't back away from this - then I'll teach you a lesson."

Shawn backs down, doing the chickenshit heel.

After Shawn finally turns on Marty, he'll sneak attack Bret during a Hit Man defense (say against Bad News, that's who we'll have Bret feud against in the interim) and we have our match for VI.

They show a promo for a man making his debut at WM – Kerry Von Erich, the Texas Tornado. They don’t sell him the way they sold Owen and Hennig – ‘cause they could wrestle and he..not so much – but he has a famous name and they're stuck with him. He'll debut at Mania.

Martel mocks Tito in the back, saying he’s beaten him every single time – that everyone beats him every single time and why doesn’t he just move back to Mexico with his 37 brothers and sisters. So, they'll do that at Mania

Sometime in March, Marty Jannetty hits the ring for a promo – saying that he has a return contract in his hand to face the tag champions at WM…and he intends to enforce it. So, whomever wins the main event tag title match later tonight (Piper/Jake defending against Hogan/Dusty) will meet him and his new partner at WM VI. Piper and Jake hit the ring – laughing at Marty, saying that the only friend he had in the WWF turned on him – and they’d be glad to kick his ass again. Marty attacks – gets in 1 on 2 shots, but they beat him down.

Piper/Jake beat Hogan/Dusty, Piper getting the fall on Hogan. Dusty and Hogan have words in the ring, leading to shoving, leading to blows between the two as they fight to the back, Dusty tells Hogan that they've had a nice run, but there's something called a Legend's Match that he's heard about - and at VI - inside a steel cage - the American Dream is gonna run wild on you, brother.

...going back to the ring, Marty limps out, showing guts but not great judgment, as he goes right after Piper/Jake – they beat him down again, until he is saved by his new partner…Ravishing Rick Rude…Rude and Marty fight them both off (recall, obviously the Rude/Jake feud from three years previous).

No, Rude/Marty doesn't make much sense. It's a random superstar pairing. Marty needs someone and Rude, well, Rude just wants another belt, and to beat up Jake Roberts again.

The main on The Main Event is Savage/DiBiase – the winner named the number one contender and getting the shot at WM. But there’s no real match – Hennig emerges, and he and DiBiase beat Savage down. DQ for Randy – he gets the shot. Ted mouths to Bobby “you owe me, Heenan” as he exits. There's a stip that Savage can't touch Hennig before VI - and we're off.

It's WM VI, Savage looks for revenge against Hennig, Bret defends in Canada against young Shawn, Piper and Jake defend against the ad hoc team of Marty and Rude, Kerry Von Erich debuts, it's Martel and Tito one more time, Dusty battles Hogan in the Legends match - it's Wrestlemania VI - call your thingedy thing!

Summer Slam/Survivor Series - 1989

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

WM V and the build for this show are here.
Summer Slam – 1989 East Rutherford
(Dark – Bad News Brown d. Barry Windham)

Gorillia didn't do this show - I assume it was for health reasons and not because he was benched, if that's the case, then they will go, as did they, with Schiavone (shudder) but he's better than Vince and I'm not sure I trust Gene on play by play for a full show. If instead this was just Vince looking for a young PBP voice (not that he would ever do a thing like that...) in the Counterfactual universe, he'd never consider breaking up Gorilla and Jesse.

1. Hogan/Dusty d. Demolition
-Hogan/Big Dust do their legends tag team thing and go over the Dems.

2. Jacques (w/Ray) d. Greg Valentine
-Jacques is the Mountie! Almost. Jacques is gonna get a little bit of a singles run coming up in a modified version of his Mountie gimmick.

3. Jimmy Snuka d. Ultimate Warrior
-Jimmy returns to the company, gets a quick win - postmatch, Hercules runs in - he and the Warrior begin to beat Snuka down - then ignore him while Herc poses and the Warrior rants. "Your pinfalls wil mean nothing in the coming race riots. When Deuteronomy bursts into your world, all that will be left are the men with the purity and beauty to be true Warriors. The Mighty Hercules has heeded the call - and together - we will lead a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and await the Coming Apocalypse. Snort"

And then they make out.

Okay, perhaps not. But the Warrior storyline is heading as gay as he's willing to do. The gimmick is now the juiced up Warrior, with his juiced up buddy Herc, spouting survivalist, militia based, White Man's Burden crap -- while getting his swerve on.

Like a KKK Christopher St. Connection.

So, they don't really do that.  But they'll rub each others shoulders, oil each other up - they won't acknowledge, even once, any sort of gay activity, they'll just be occurring, even as the White Power rap coninues. Big, muscle bound, closeted freaks. Good times.

4. The Male Model Rick Martel (w/Entourage) d. Tito Santana
Paul Roma can be his stylist. Koko can do his hair. Poffo can be his assistant, the three of them will also tag as The Entourage. Martel has a half dozen people, all fussing around him at all times. If he's hit in the face by Tito - there are immediate protests. After this, they rematch where Martel leaves after 10 minutes, saying he has another appointment. Rick's character changes a little in that he male models it up more. Posing in the ring - he's not playing gay, not even effeminate, think Zoolander. Lot of pouting. Posing. His people fussing over him. Martel can draw some good heat - and he goes over his old partner here. Might be too much homophobia going on at the same time.

5. Ted DiBiase (w/Virgil) d. Terry Taylor
-Hundred down the mouth.

6. Tags: Cage Match: Rockers d. Brainbusters
-That’s the blow off to the feud, the Rockers finally go over - again, it's a pinfall and not an escape cage match. It's also Tully’s last match. He takes the fall, he and Arn, recall, who are caught up in the Rude/Hennig feud, aren't actively feuding in this match, so as not to detract from the Rockers big win - but they aren't close. And when they drop the straps, Arn and Tully have words and Tully walks out alone.

Arn and Tully are going to feud until Tully leaves, Arn going over, obviously.

7. IC: Rick Rude d. Curt Hennig
-Here’s the end of the Family, the tension in the Heenan Family boils over – Hennig wanted a rematch, Rude and Bobby didn’t want to give him one – the Busters picked sides and they went into their tag match fractured as well. Heenan tried to keep it together – but the Busters exploded and Tully quit – and here, with Bobby calling it right down the middle….

Actually, this time, he doesn’t…Heenan sides with Rude, aiding in the finish, shocking because it’s the first screwjob title finish in the PPV era. Hennig hits the Perfectplex, Heenan puts Rude's free leg on the ropes. Hennig realizes what Bobby'd done and is distracted - allowing Rude to get the roll up win. A shocking result.

Heenan and Rude celebrate by getting out of the ring as fast as they can..Hennig looks shocked, but eventually figures out what has happened and he sprints after them postmatch.

It's time for face Hennig now. Or so the Germans would have you believe...

8. WWF Title: Randy Savage (w/Liz) d. Bret Hart
-Savage, clean, again. Bret loses to Randy one more time.

With the Rockers finally going over - and Hennig only losing to Rude because of a screwjob - and with the buildup for this match focusing on Bret Hart's opportunity to win the Triple Crown - one might expect this is the switch. Nope. Savage, clean with the elbowdrop.

Bret's frustrated - he and Savage go nose to nose after the match (each match grows more hard hitting, dirtier, more contentious - but Shawn and Marty enter again - Marty talking to Savage, Shawn pulling Bret away and talking to him...Savage extends his hand again and Bret accepts it.

The Rockers and Savage go to the buckles, holding their title belts aloft, as Bret looks on, his emotions complicated, perhaps jealousy, or an increased seriousness of purpose, or a realization that he's not quite there yet -- but the camera definitely captures the mixed emotions of Bret the Hit Man Hart as he watches the Rockers and Savage celebrate as the show ends.

So, that gets us to Survivor Series.

This will be the last cleaving of years into only two parts, if you're reading along in sequence (Woooooo!) you'll note that, as promised, this is getting increasingly involved. And it will exponentially increase beyond this. So, beginning in the 90s, every show gets its own post.

Lots going on as the decade ends.

The legendary tag team of Hogan and Dusty work the opening tag again - this time against the newly monikered White Flight, the Warrior and Hercules.

Roddy Piper returns and Piper's Pit is back in business. Piper feuds during the fall with Jake, Piper's come back as a heel, saying that when he left, Jake was as feared as anybody in the WWF, but now he waits for fan approval - and he wants to see that son of a bitch come back. They heat that up over the autumn - selling that Jake and Piper will meet at Survivor Series - but as they get to November - Jake turns. He DDT's Terry Taylor multiple times, and, instead of his usual one snake bag - he pulls out a bag with dozens of smaller snakes - which he pours all over the fallen Taylor. When Taylor returns the week before the show and attacks Roberts - they make that match.

They set up a Piper's Pit to air at Survivor Series - with Jimmy Snuka as the guest.

Tito gets heat back by wiping out Martel's Entourage during a show - and challenging Martel to a
strap match at the PPV.

After Arn runs Tully out - he does singles with both Rockers - Bret face saves each time as Arn attempts to punk the Rockers out. The Rockers shift to a defense of the title against the Rougeaus - while Bret meets Arn in a singles.

The title matches -- Ted brings a briefcase full of money to Bobby and Rude - he says he wants a shot at the IC - doesn't need to buy it, doesn't need to win - he just wants a title shot and he's wiling to pay. Rude tells him to get the hell out of there, but Bobby persuades him that it's an easy payday, they take Ted's money, they keep the gold, it's a win/win.

So, there's that.

The title is babyface/babyface. Hennig, the newly minted babyface challenges Savage. Savage obviously is hesitant to belive that Curt has changed - but Curt face saves him when Rude and Arn attack - they might even do a tag match where Hennig tosses Savage out of the way when Rude attempts a chairshot - taking the full brunt of it himself. Hennig makes the case that Savage gave his friend Bret title shots - and just like that, Savage should give Hennig a shot too.

So, he does.

It's Survivor Series '89, Savage/Perfect for the strap - Rude defends against DiBiase, Rockers against the former tag champs, the Rougeaus, Bret v. Arn, Martel v. Tito in a strap match, Jake v. Terry Taylor, Hogan and Dusty meet White Flight - a very special Piper's Pit, featuring Jimmy Snuka. Call your local cable company!!

Survivor Series – 1989 (Chicago)
PPV returns to Chicago for first time since II.  Gorilla's back with Jesse.

(Dark – Bad News Brown/Haku d. Windham/Valentine)

1. Hogan/Dusty d. Hercules/Ultimate Warrior
-Hogan and Dusty roll on as the Legends Tag Team – I like the idea of the Warrior recruiting Herc, dressing him up – both guys with the crazy juiced up bodies, face paint, shaking the ropes, then talking about White Pride. The Warlord and the Barbarian, the Powers of Pain, enter, the four men take Hogan and dusty apart - then compliment each other on their lats - they all pose, apply extra oil to each other, talk about the White Man. The Barbarian looks a little askew at this, but then takes the stick, yells out, "Wake up White People!" and all is well as they go off to their gang bang.

2. Jake Roberts (w/Piper) d. Terry Taylor
-With the encouragement of Piper, who returned in the interim as a heel, Jake goes full heel, cheating at every chance, and DDT’ing Taylor multiple times. Jake and Piper dump the bag of snakes all over Taylor.

3. Roddy Piper (w/Jake) d. Jimmy Snuka
- First, comes Piper's Pit - Piper starts apologizing for the coconut incident, then decides he's not going to apologize, he didn't mean apologize, he meant re-live - he attempts to hit Snuka with the coconut, but Jimmy takes it away from him and smashes it over Piper's head. Jake runs in and he and Snuka brawl, while a bloody Piper takes the mic - challenges Snuka to go right now, fans pop, Snuka accepts, a referee enters -- Jimmy does as much as he can - but after Jake DDT's him on the floor and dumps him back in the ring, all w/o being seen by the official - Piper is able to get the fall. They dump coconuts and cocount paraphernalia all over Snuka.

4. Strap Match: The Male Model Rick Martel (w/Entourage) d. Tito Santana
Rematch from Summer Slam, Martel goes over again. It’s a simple feud, they used to be tag partners, now Martel’s the Model – and he keeps kicking Tito’s ass. Strap match stip is just so Martel can go over again without getting another pinfall over poor Tito.

5. Bret Hart d. Arn Anderson
Bobby doesn’t enter with Arn. Bret clean with the Sharpshooter. It's Arn's last match with the company. After the match, in the back, he confronts the Brain, “What happened to the Family, Bobby – what happened to the Family.” “The Family’s dead, Double A – now it’s just me and the Champ.” Arn packs his bags and leaves. There’s no program with this match – Bret’s feud for the strap with Savage is over – Arn is leaving the WWF – it’s just to re-establish Bret as a winner – and it’s also a helluva good match.

6. Tags: Rockers d. Rougeaus
There’s no feud here either – in fact, this is it for the Rougeaus, Jacques, recall has already started the singles career – and when Ray gets pinned here - Jacques turns on his brother, turning their postmatch hug into a bodyslam. Jacques tears off his Rougeau brother gear, grabbing the Mountie hat that he brought to the ring (no, er, "shock stick" however, Vince hates that crap) Rougeau yells out, "I am the Mountie!" and puts the wood to Ray. They're gonna meet in a singles at the Rumble.

The Rockers do have their own feud coming though. On Saturday Night’s Main Event, in January – they are set to face Hogan and Dusty for the straps – but they never make it out to the ring as they’re jumped…let’s say in the shower, for the homoerotic element the kids love – by Piper and Jake….DDTs to the shower floor – the snake is let loose – maybe a Hitchcock shot of blood going down the drain.

7. IC: Ted DiBiase d. Rick Rude (w/Brain)
Switch. Despite Rude’s concern, Bobby makes the match. During which, Virgil, who didn't come to the ring with Ted, enters with a briefcase – that he hands to Bobby. Bobby opens it up, smiles – hops on the apron –maneuvers himself into position and smashes Rude over the head with it. DiBiase takes advantage – applying the Million Dollar Dream and getting the win. Not only is it a screwjob, but there's no question that Bobby has turned on Rick Rude.

The lock breaks on the case, so it’s open – and the camera can see, obviously, that it’s stuffed with cash. Bobby sold Rude out.

Rude’s unconscious – Virgil puts the strap on his boss – Ted’s first WWF strap – Bobby grabs a headset at the announce – yelling, “I’m gone, Humanoids! You wanted the Heenan Family gone – the Heenan Family is gone – Woo-Hoo! You won’t have Bobby Heenan to kick around anymore – I’ve got a plane to catch.” Bobby grabs the briefcase – waves to the shocked crowd – disappears into the back – and the camera sees him hop into a limo in the parking lot and drive away.

8. WWF Title: Curt Hennig d. Randy Savage (Liz)
Switch. After a year as WWF Champ, and earlier two years as IC Champ, Savage drops. He should have seen it coming – he took this face/face match with his new friend Hennig, as after two such matches with Bret the precedent was set, but out of nowhere in this one – with the fans split down the middle between their two favorites – Heenan re-enters from the crowd, with the briefcase, he waffles Elizabeth over the back of the head, splitting her open (mmmm, splitting Miss Elizabeth open) and distracting Savage enough for Hennig to hit the PerfectPlex --- and get the fall.

Hennig and Brain embrace – Brain looking into the camera “Now, that’s Perfect” as he and Hennig raise the belt aloft. Rick Rude hits the ring hard – going after both men, so we know that he wasn’t involved in the swerve Hennig and Heenan bail out, laughing and pointing at Rude from the aisle.

On the way to WM, Bobby explains to Gene– he didn’t lie to Arn, the Family was dead, and it was just he and the Champ left. Except the Champ was Hennig. Gene asks how Bobby could do this to Rick Rude – Bobby says it was an easy decision – he traded up from the IC belt, took Ted's money, and walked away from Survivor Series a rich man – and with the WWF Championship Belt. Any one of the humanoids would do the same thing if they were in Bobby’s position – but they could never be in Bobby’s position, because they’re not perfect, like the new Heavyweight Champion of the World. Hennig and Bobby laugh and laugh. Suckers.

The decade ends with Starrcade. The Road Warriors keep – 2 years now into their title run. Flair keeps the NWA title in a 5 star match against Muta – and, in the rare circumstance when the secondary belt is the main event – Sting keeps the US belt against Luger. Following the match the other 3 Horsemen (Flair, Pillman, Shane Douglas) hit the ring – and punk Luger and Sting out – allowing for the introduction of the newest member of the Horsemen – Arn Anderson, returning to the NWA just two weeks after Survivor Series. Arn and Flair are reunited, and the Horsemen ride strong into the 90’s. They're a little shorthanded, so they give Muta the extra push with the multiple wins. Muta wrestles four times on one PPV, still unprecedented.

Starrcade – 1989 Atlanta

US Title: Sting d. Luger
NWA Title: Ric Flair d. Great Muta
Tags: Road Warriors d. Doom
Great Muta draw Lex Luger

Great Muta d. Scott Steiner
Great Muta d. Rick Steiner
Ron Simmons d. Butch Reed
Doom d. Wild Samoans

The first PPV of the 90s will be the Rumble from Orlando. Hogan and Dusty look for revenge against the Powers of Pain. Jacques meets Ray as the Rougeaus explode. They hotshot a Martel/Savage program. No Liz, she's gone selling the briefcase shot - Martel decides to taunt Randy about the loss of his wife and his belt - Savage is the wrong man to taunt, and there's that match. The Rockers, recall, are attacked in the showers by the veterans Jake and Piper - so there's that. Bret, former 2 year IC champ, looks to regain his belt against Ted. And your big main event - Rick Rude, now a babyface, challenges his former best friend, Curt Hennig, this time for the WWF Title. Perfect's never beaten Rude at anything, including 2 IC losses, but now he has the Brain, who screwed Rude out of that IC, at his side.

The Heenan Family Explodes at Royal Rumble '90!

The First Royal Rumble/Wrestlemania V - 1989

Friday, December 23, 2005

IV, Summer Slam '88, Survivor Series and the build to this show are here.
Royal Rumble 1989 Houston(Dark – Jacques Rougeau d. Lanny Poffo)

(a note - as there's no battle royal in the event, I would call it Royal Rumble in a Counterfactual universe - what I would call it is Justice Sunday. Soon, a battle royal that will run after Mania every other year will be Rumble style and be to name a number one contender - that's the event we'd call the Royal Rumble. But for purposes of communication and for historical tether to the real world, I won't actually make that change in the Counterfactual)

1. Demolition d. Powers of Pain
-the Dems have turned. It’s the face Dems! Their faces are painted and they have spikes and they are the babyface Demolition!

2. Hulk Hogan d. Andre the Giant
-They drag Andre out one more time to put Hogan over as the New Legend of Professional Wrestling. Sure, that’s a WM staple, but now, we expand it a little bit as the numbers of PPVs expand. Andre gets a highlight package sendoff, but when the house lights come back on, Hogan's down in the middle of the ring - standing over him...

The Ultimate Warrior.

It’s largely out of nowhere, although the Warrior had been giving somewhat self aggrandizing promos for a few weeks, talking about immortality and the Master Warrior Race. But he was a bottom of the card face act, albeit an unbeaten one, and even though Hogan had now been a bottom of the card act for five years – he was once the WWF champion. They're gonna meet in the legends match at V, which will be the subject of mockery, as how can the Warrior think of himself as a legend?

He can, 'cause he's crazy. The Warrior will go Hellwig, with his crazy Koresh-like right wing rantings. I’m not saying he drops the gimmick, without the gimmick, no one cares, but the Warrior gimmick is now Ayn Rand-ish, with survivalist, libertarian, borderline white power language. Like the speeches he gives now. Real life Hellwig talking about the power of the Warrior inside us all is a hundred times more interesting than the watered down babyface we got back in the 80s. At least interesting enough to sell this legend’s match. He'll talk about the unions injuring the Warrior spirit, and the need to cut the capital gains tax, for all the little millionaire Warriors, and how we need to build more prisons to lock anyone up who doesn't believe in trickle down economics or the power of the Warrior. Snort.

3. Tito Santana d. Honky Tonk Man

4. Rick Martel d. Terry Taylor
-Partner of Arriba~

This is the beginning of the new Martel – the Model version, still a good wrestler, although now juiced up, and with the midcard heel gimmick that served him well. It's a gradual turn, Martel starts to get more and more bronze, always fiddling with his hair. They do a couple of vignettes where there's no room for Tito to travel in the car from show to show - because Martel spent $1500 bucks on a tanning bed, and is loading it up to go from town to town. Martel misses some hot tags from Tito because he's fixing his hair on the outside. That kinda thing. He and Tito don't break up sharply - Tito is clearly frustrated by Martel, at his wit's end, and finally, as Martel is as dark as a man could possibly be outside of Ghana - just ridiculously, outrageously tan - maybe the burn from this particular tanning session causes him to miss a match, and Tito has to work a handicap -- Tito tells Martel that Strike Force is no more. Martel is totally nonplussed, "Hey, Tito, I'm sure this is important, but I have to go to the lab to test my new scent."

5. Jake Roberts d. Bad News Brown
-Face Jake moved from the Rude feud into the lower wattage Bad News feud, as Jake’s work starts sliding.

6. Tags: Brainbusters (w/Brain) d. Rockers
-They're gonna do the Somers/Rose feud. Rockers are the hot babyface team, Busters the grizzled veterans. Brainbusters keep clean here, spirited match, hopefully giving the Rockers the rub.

7. IC Title: Curt Hennig (w/Brain & Rude) d. Bret Hart
- A classic match, the Brain gets a singles title – and Bret’s 10 month IC run ends at the hands of the unbeaten Hennig. Hennig remains Perfect, going over Bret here. Rick Rude accompanies Curt to ringside, involving himself at a critical but nondeterminative juncture to aid his boy Hennig. Over the next few weeks, the angle that develops is that Rude hasn’t gotten a shot at a title in a year and a half, as everyone’s been ducking him – and the only guy who he knows his man enough to face him is his boy, Hennig. Bobby hates the idea – but Curt wants the competition – and as we drive to WM – neither man turns, but there is dissension between the two egomaniacal heels – and it drives Bobby crazy.

8. WWF Title: Randy Savage d. Ted DiBiase
Ted’s long unbeaten run, with accompanying Million Dollar heel heat, comes to an end as he feeds the Champ. Food chain, baby. Savage goes over clean, stuffs the hundred in Ted’s mouth – and heads to WM as a powerful champion….

…where, in a rematch from their IC classic a year before at IV – he’ll take on Bret Hart.

So, it's Wrestlemania V from Atlantic City. They've got the Legend's Match with the messianic Warrior. Tito will work in the middle again, as will Martel, who is now the Model and takes on the returning Owen Hart. After losing the title match at the Rumble, Ted moves back down and is feuding with Jake. The Brainbusters have tormented the babyface Rockers - meeting them at every turn as they gear up for the Mania rematch.

I like face/face and heel/heel matchups at Mania - it sets Mania apart from any normal wrestling event.

The IC is Hennig defending against Rude. They each do their schtick - and now that it's in opposition to each other - it frays on their nerves. Bobby goes bonkers, trying to pacify each guy, "You're the best, Rick, of course" "You're the best, Curt, of course.." both guys are so narcissistic they can't imagine anyone challenging their supremacy. And what started out as a simple comment from Rude, "now that someone in the Family has the gold - I'll finally get another shot" has become a pretty good intrafamily feud.

Savage/Bret for the strap. Randy cuts a promo after the Rumble, saying he's going to headline his first Mania - saying he's at the top of his career - he's in a rocketship to infinity and beyond - he's got Liz, he's got the gold - he's got everything a man could want...

...but there's one thing that bothers him -- one year ago, in the same building at IV, he lost the IC title to Bret Hart. There's nothing in his career he hasn't accomplished - accept beat Bret Hart - so he calls Bret out - says that he's gotta know for sure that he really is the best alive, and to do that - they need to hook it up at V.

It's Savage/Bret, Hennig/Rude, the Rockers and the Brainbusters -- Owen/Martel, Jake/Ted, Hogan and the Warrior in the Legends. It's Wrestlemania V. Call your locak thing!

Prior to Mania, the workers threaten to walk unless Vince meets some demands. A radicalized Jesse Ventura, whose eyes have been opened to the plight of the American worker following his study of the Pullman Car Strike of the 1890s, takes these demands to the office.

Their demands: to end the facade that wrestlers are independent contractors and instead make them full time employees, with health and retirement benefits. Vacation. Days off. Company mandated health examinations. Greater profit participation.

"Sure, it may cost me some money," but we'll never be in a situation where my workers drop dead from the lifestyle that I create," Vince responds.

Drug testing is considered; after all, even if the incentives for steroid and pain killer use are diminished, one recognizes that athletes will always look for advantages. But Vince and Jesse agree - the civil liberties ramifications are too great. While complying with a search from private industry doesn't have 4th Amendment implications - the spirit of privacy, the fundamental right not to have your employer search your body - is worth preserving.

"There is no greater friend to consitutionally protected personal freedom than Vince McMahon," Ventura tells a jubilant locker room, without a trace of sarcasm, ignorance, or delusion in his voice, "The WWF will offer treatment to any wrestler with a substance abuse issue - and fortunately we work for a man who doesn't equate bodybuilders with good professional wrestling. Three cheers for Vince McMahon!"

Not that the public knew much about this, of course. Vince decided years ago to eschew the spotlight, "Leave that for the performers. I just want what's best for the boys and the fans. What kind of man would I be otherwise?"

Wrestlemania V Atlantic City 1989
(Dark – Bad News Brown/Haku d. Boss Man/Valentine)

Gorilla/Jesse. 5 straight years.

1. Demolition d. Rougeaus
-The face Dems go over the Rougeaus. People love the Dems!

2. Legend's Match: Hulk Hogan d. Ultimate Warrior (Dusty Rhodes - guest referee)
-See, the thing of it is, I’m stuck with Hogan, so I need to feed him. He doesn’t eat much under this plan, but he needs to eat. Andre coming back and feeding Hogan arguably isn’t the best story for that one night (although, actually, philosophically, I don’t really agree with that either, wrestlers don’t go out on top, they go out on their backs, you give to the company that gave to you, there’s some honor in it) but it allows Hogan to say he’s the Legend of Professional Wrestling, which means I can have this match (and the next, and the next, and the next). The caravan rolls on, baby dolls. I let Hellwig squash as many no account guys as I can, feeding his unbeaten streak going into WM, while his rants et more and more bizarre. “I invite you all to come live in Compound Warrior while we await the End Times. Except the Jewry. Dirty, Dirty, Jewry.”

But Hogan goes over. Not long after WM, in a six man with Demolition (probably against the Warrior and Bad News/Haku, a tag I like) the Dems turn on him. Ax/Smash cut a promo saying they’re the real Legends of professional wrestling and they challenge Hogan at SSlam and tell him to find a partner.

He will. Dusty Rhodes. See how we use the people?

Dusty, note, isn’t as big a deal as he was in the actual universe, the plug on his NWA push gets pulled back in ’85, basically making him Hogan. But he’s got 2 NWA titles in the bank and a loyal following – and unlike his WWF run, you know, this time they actually talk about it.

3. Tito Santana d. Terry Taylor

4. The Model Rick Martel d. Owen Hart
- Owen returns for the first time since November, he doesn’t wrestle at all before WM. They sell hard that he’s still injured but the possibility of working WM, the Granddaddy of Them All, is too much to pass up. It’s the biggest win of Martel’s career – and the Model push is now hard – as it’s both a good match, and since Owen was pushed as a big time guy, Martel beating him at WM is important. Owen goes away now for years, unfortunately. We sell his ankle (his heel) as his weak spot. Martel's got the large tanning bed in the back - and brings out a small tanning bed (some type of modified EZ bake oven - I don't know if they have portable tanning beds) to the ring.

After this, Martel gets his own production staff. Every time he appears, there's someone else with him. A personal assistant. A publicist. Makeup, hair, personal tanning specialist. It's Rick Martel w/Entourage.

5. Ted DiBiase d. Jake Roberts
- Ted gets his heat back after losing to Randy, with a decisive win here. Jake had gone over Rude, then gone over Bad News – and now feeds Ted. Hundred stuffed in the mouth.

6. Tags: Brainbusters (w/Brain) d. Rockers
- Busters go over again - and this is the heavy color match - Marty and Shawn (I realize I haven't named the Rockers, but if you're reading this and don't know who the Rockers were, you're really pretty far from home) show they aren't just pretty boys by doing the full Muta blade jobs, taking tremendous beatings but not giving up. So much blood they hose down the ring.

7. IC: Rick Rude d. Curt Hennig
Switch. I think the fans go for it (1) because of the compelling nature of the two personalities (2) because of the quality of the work and (3) because of the tease that someone might turn. Brain does his schtick here, running around the ring, trying to be on both sides, cheering for one guy and then the other, largely adding to the entertainment value. Rude wins a terrific match, getting his first WWF title. The unease between Hennig and Rude heightens as Rude takes the strap and he and Bobby celebrate while Hennig stands by himself. Between here and SSlam, we keep it going, they tag together, but have differences, you know the drill – so while they still remain aligned – and still remain heels – the Heenan Family becomes more divided, with Tully now taking Hennig’s side in the various disputes, Arn taking Rude's, which divides the tag champs. The Family grows increasingly fractured, Bobby desperately trying to keep it together, as we drive through the summer. But they still stand together after...

8. WWF Title: Randy Savage (w/Liz) d. Bret Hart
- Randy keeps. I really like this too, to my way of thinking, face/face at WM particularly gives off the aura of a special match – two guys who don’t normally fight – go at it full bore just because that’s how much they want the title at the biggest event of the year. And Savage/Bret is a great, natural matchup (even if they never put it together). Their styles complemented each other, even as faces, they had previously been heels, and had that edge to them that would come into play here – and this is great retribution for Randy after losing the IC title to Bret at WM IV. More than all of that, of course, it’s a great, classic match. And that’s what Vince wants from the main event at WM. The announce plays up heavily that even though Randy walks out the Champ – the two men are now 1-1. And that’s the angle as we drive through the summer.

Randy and Bret share the same uneasy handshake that Rude and Hennig had after their match - after Bret exits - Savage stands on top of the wrestling world as V ends....but not quite.

Bobby leads the Family back down the aisle - Hennig, Rude, Arn, Tully all charge the ring - all four men putting the boots to Savage as Heenan barks out instructions.

Down to the ring run the Rockers, Shawn and Marty, now in streetclothes, both heavily bandaged up, they show the babyface fighting spirt as they face save Savage...

...but the numbers are still too much, the Heenan Family gets the advantage...Liz runs up the aisle... go get Bret Hart.

Bret stands with Randy, Shawn, and Marty - the four men battling the Heenan Family, finally knocking them out of the ring. The Family stands cockily in the aisle - Arn, Tully, and Rude holding up their belts as the show ends.

Two months later, NWA has Great American Bash. GAB ’89 now passes SSeries ’88 as the greatest PPV of all time. Consider how much bigger Flair/Steamboat is here, given Steamboat's hugely increased presence. In the Counterfactual, as of 1989, Steamboat's a bigger star than Flair - and Flair's still Ric Flair. It's the biggest match in the hundred year history of the NWA, and prompts Ted Turner, watching at home, to decide that one day he will purchase this company - and never, under any circumstance, give up control of the name National Wrestlign Alliance. "The lineage is too important - that's one thing that McMahon fellow can't ever take away."

And Muta/Pillman, not bad either.

Great American Bash – 1989 Baltimore
NWA Title: Ric Flair d. Ricky Steamboat
US Title: Sting d. Terry Funk
Tags: Road Warriors d. Midnight Express
Great Muta d. Brian Pillman

Lex Luger d. Johnny Ace
Steve Williams d. Shane Douglas
Mike Rotundo d. Kevin Sullivan
Steiners d. Sid/Spivey

So, what's set up for Summer Slam?

Well, there's Dusty's debut - he and Hogan teaming up against Demolition. Also making his PPV debut is Jimmy Snuka, who returns to the WWF after the Ultimate Warrior proclaims his genetic supremacy over all women, Catholics, schizophrenics, and "mud people."

Martel and Tito finally begin their post Strike Force feud - as Martel develops his entourage over the summer - Santana tells him he's embarrassing, that he's ridiculous - Martel whispers to an assistant, who responds, "Mr. Martel is unavailable right now - if you will leave your name, perhaps he can squeeze you in sometime in August."

That sets Tito off - and he attacks - and there you are.

Brainbusters defend against the Rockers in a steel cage.

Rude defends against Hennig. Bobby does everything he can to keep it from happening - there's lots of tension now between Perfect and Bobby, as Bobby wants them to move on. We fictionalize a little here - as part of the Minnesota backstory between Rude and Hennig will be that despite his claims of being Perfect, he's never beaten Rude at anything. Hennig's always been cock of the walk - but for some reason Rude's always been a little bit better. This comes out now, Rude saying Curt's his best friend and the greatest wrestler alive...except for him. That Curt should go wrestle anyone else, but unless he wants another loss on what used to be a perfect record, he needs to look another place. When Bobby kinda agrees with Rude, it really fractures the family.

The main...Savage/Bret. It's the Rubber Match. Bret still a little underneath Randy here - Bret now coming into his own - Bret's had long runs as tag champ and IC Champ - and now Vince brings in another piece of the puzzle.

Bret's fighting for the Triple Crown.

The Triple Crown?

Okay - even beyond the WWF Title is a three tiered trophy, designated for all men who have held all three WWF titles. It's beyond angles - it's beyond face and heel - its presitige is mythic. The names of each man who has held it are carved in it (like the Stanley Cup) and whomever was last to hold it maintains possession until passing it to the next man.

There's only one name on the Triple Crown: Pedro Morales. Not Bruno or Steamboat, not Dynamite or Backlund. Only one. Pedro Morales.

Now (and at Mania, but we had enough going that we didn't need to do this) Bret Hart has an opportunity to carve his name into immortality.

It's Savage/Bret, Rude/Hennig, Brainbusters/Rockers in the cage - all rematching at Summer Slam. Tito takes on Martel, Hogan teams with Dusty, Snuka returns to the WWF - it's Summer Slam '89! Call your local local!

Wrestlemania IV/The First Summer Slam/Survivor Series 1988

Thursday, December 22, 2005

III, the first Survivor Series, and the build for IV are here.
WRESTLEMANIA IV – 1988 (Atlantic City)(Dark – Owen Hart d. Bad News Brown)

Gorilla/Jesse on the announce.

1. Demolition d. Killer Bees
-The Bees won the opener at II, III and Survivor Series – the new heel team comes into the company, making their debut right here at Mania, and absolutely buries them here. It’s an execution and we never see the Bees on PPV again. That Demolition’s a walking disaster, after all.

2. Legend's Match: Andre the Giant d. Hulk Hogan (Superstar Graham - guest referee)
-Recall, Andre’s beaten David, Bruno, and Race. Hogan’s run off Orndorff and Piper in the last two PPVs. Both guys stay faces, here. "Let the fans cheer for whomever they want!" Vince is often heard to exclaim. "And whatever we do, let's make sure to settle this intellectual property issue with the panda people."

Quick match. Andre goes 4-0 at WM. Something for everyone. All the colors in the rainbow. Handshake after the match. Everyone's happy.

3. Ted DiBiase (w/Virgil) d. Greg Valentine.
- Money, Money, Money, Money, Money. Virgil stuffs the hundred in the Hammer’s mouth after the Million $ Dream finish.

4. Davey Boy Smith d. Bam Bam Bigelow
- Bigelow had been unbeaten since his debut in ’87 – Davey Boy’s coming off a full year and a half with the tag belts – so it’s big on big here in the middle of the card. DBS sends him on his way.

5. Rick Rude (w/Brain) d. Jake Roberts
- Same angle as actually ran. Jake’s the face, Rick’s got Cheryl Roberts’s face on his tights. We push the psychological nature of the program – and the heel goes over at Mania. The feud will continue as Jake vows revenge.

6. Tags: Rougeaus (w/Anvil) d. Strike Force
- Evil French Canadians keep their straps earned at SSeries by going over the babyface Martel/Santana.

7. IC: Bret Hart d. Randy Savage
- Randy finally loses the IC belt he’s held for 2 full years. This is a pure face/face matchup, no turns teased, they just wrestle each other, Bret fighting from underneath as he's the kid in this program. His winning is a surprise, surprise to the fans, Savage, maybe Bret a little bit, but he's able to stay cool. After a year and a half with the tag belts – here’s Bret’s first singles strap. Appreciative ovation for Randy as his two year run ends. He and Bret hug in a masculine way.

8. WWF Title: Loser Leaves Town: Dynamite Kid d. Ricky Steamboat
- Dynamite evens the PPV scorecard at 2 matches each – retakes the WWF title and Steamboat’s forced to leave the WWF. True, we set up the main event early, back in December after SSeries – but that’s done for two reasons (1) the tone Vince wanted to set by having the main event at 4 straight PPVs be the same is that the best wrestlers hold the belts and are in constant competition for them. The PPV buyer is promised that, should he purchase, he’s guaranteed to see a great, competitive championship match. The corollary to that is that Steamboat and Dynamite are positioned as the titans of the company – clearly a cut above everyone else, and that their matches are something special. What you lose in suspense, you gain in anticipation.

The greatest feud in company history comes down to a Loser Leaves town match at WM IV.

And when the heel goes over – and the people realize that Ricky Steamboat, their hero, is leaving the WWF – oh, how the people will weep.

After a long moment, and Ricky, the announce, the crowd realizes that it's real, that Steamboat is leaving the WWF and that this 2 year was has ended...Steamboat offers Billington a handshake...

...but Dynamite stays all heel, screaming at Steamboat "GET OUT OF MY RING! GET THE HELL OUT OF MY RING!!" The babyfaces in the company come down the aisle; Vince McMahon, who decided to leave his on camera personna behind just prior to WM I, deciding that he needed to devote all of his energy to creative and "not draw focus from the real talent" appears on WWF TV for the first time in 4 years, standing with the boys in the aisle as Ricky gets the standing ovation from workers and fans alike. Dynamite stands defiantly in the ring, holding his title belt aloft, as a highlight package plays in the arena and the company says goodbye to Ricky Steamboat.

5 months later, a new PPV – Summerslam.

Down south..Sting, Luger, Steiners all still babyfaces running against the Horsemen. Mike Rotundo comes in for revenge against Windham, Rotundo, jealous and angry, is the heel in this feud.

Great American Bash 1988 – Baltimore
NWA Title: Steve Williams d. Ric Flair
US Title: Barry Windham d. Mike Rotundo
Tags: Road Warriors d. Midnight Express
Sting d. Dick Murdoch

Lex Luger d. Arn Anderson
Rick Steiner d. Tully Blanchard
Kevin Sullivan d. Al Perez
Fantastics d. Koloffs

5 months after WM IV, we go back to a New York PPV for the first time since WM I. All the critics love me in New York. We're adding the 3rd of our 4 annual PPVs, so we're close to getting to full speed. If, for some unknowable reason, you are following along in chronological order - first, thanks, and second, once we get to the full complement of PPVs, the storylines will get more extensive and soon it will take a whole post just to cover one PPV, as opposed to a whole year.

-They team up Andre and Hogan for the first ever Summer Slam, they'll work the opening tag. The Warrior makes his PPV debut here at SSlam. It's the same Warrior gimmick - at least to start. But Vince, whose political sensibilities have recently been enlarged by reading about the Williams thesis on American imperialism, is intrigued by Jim Hellwig's own retrograde political beliefs. "If I could expose the silly...nearly facist nature of this way of looking at the world, it might create a new consciousness in this country. Or - at least begin the process of our moving away from the solipsistic Reagan 80s."

They continue with Rude/Jake. Heel Demolition, really doing the Road Warrior, “we’re heels but you can still cheer us” gimmick, gets their title shot. Dynamite gets back into the lives of the Harts – he constantly torments Davey Boy about Bret winning the IC, belittling him, saying that Davey Boy was supposed to be this big powerhouse, but it's Bret who is carrying the gold, until the easily manipulated Bulldog challenges Bret. They both remain faces, but the tension between the former tag partners increases every time they come into contact.

And babyface Savage guns right after Dynamite. His schtick is way, way over at this point, he’s the top face in the company, and wants to stake his claim as the top guy.

Summerslam 1988 MSG
(Dark – Owen Hart d. Shawn Michaels)


1. Andre/Hogan d. Hercules/Dino Bravo
- Good atmosphere at MSG.

2. Ultimate Warrior d. Honky Tonk Man
-Squash, Warrior does his rope shaking, getting over with the children, puts Honky away quickly before, you know, we have to watch either of them wrestle.

3. Bad News Brown d. Koko B. Ware
-Bird. Bird. Bird. Bird. Bird. Bird.

4. Ted DiBiase (w/Virgil) d. Don Muraco
-Ted wins again, staying unbeaten. A hundred stuffed in Muraco’s mouth.

5. Rick Rude (w/Brain) d. Jake Roberts (w/Cheryl)
- They give every indication that Jake's gonna get even here - Rick goes as far he can in antagonizing Jake - finally, Cheryl convinces Jake that she can't watch from the crowd anymore, she needs to be at ringside...and, of course, Cheryl turns on Jake, allowing Rude to get the fall – be fun to see she and Rude making out in the ring after the match - say, Jake gets handcuffed to the ropes postmatch - and Cheryl and Rude basically dry hump right in front of him.

Good heat. The announce would express concern for Jake’s mental health, given that Jake is hardly the most stable guy under normal circumstances - but having to watch this scene play out right in front of him will drive Roberts to a maniacal level rarely seen in a WWF ring.

6. Tags: Rougeaus (w/Anvil) d. Demolition
- Surprising result – Dems were unbeaten, getting the powerhouse push, both teams were heels, Rougeaus are better workers – but the Dems were way over and one would think the Rougeaus might be at the end of their run here. But Vince knows how this works – he uses the Bees to feed the Dems, then use the Dems to feed the champs – food chain, daddy. Selling tickets to the people.) No face turn for anyone here, Canadians cheat to win.

7. IC: Bret Hart d. Davey Boy Smith
- Most popular tag team in WWF history, 18 month champs – DBS was unbeaten as a single and challenges his brother in law Bret for his newly won IC strap. They do a face/face match, the MSG crowd split. Bret wins clean in a great match – as he did against Savage, and the announce should note, as they prepare for another postmatch handshake, that it is a credit to Bret and Davey Boy that they can maintain their brotherly relationship, can still be the Hart Foundation, after such a tough fight...

– And the Bulldog turns on him Press slams Bret to the canvas.

8. WWF Title: Dynamite Kid d. Randy Savage
- The evil Dynamite retains the belt as he and Savage tear the house down. Clean fall, hopefully a good enough match that it elevates Savage a little bit -- Vince has positioned Dynamite and Steamboat as a cut above - now, they need to elevate Savage to Dynamite's level. He's not quite there as of Summer Slam..but he's so, so close.

So, we now have a face push for Hellwig, a heel push for DiBiase, a half crazed, crack addicted Jake Roberts, a heel tag team that can’t lose, a shocking turn by Davey Boy, and the most evil man in wrestling history – the Dynamite Kid – continues his second title run.

3 months later we’ll go back to Cleveland for Survivor Series.

We’ve got the Rockers in the opening tag. The Warrior and Ted stay hot underneath, Warrior as a babyface, all gimmick, hopefully attracting the same kids he actually attracted, while Ted also has a great gimmick, but can back it up with really solid work.

It's a big show, as both Hennig and Owen are making their PPV debuts. Both guys are coming in with similar huge pushes. Both guys get vignettes, the announce discusses them as revolutionary workers.

Hennig gets the Mr. Perfect vignettes, no different than they actually did - save that they also tie him directly to Rude, revealing their nearly lifelong friendship. So, we see the Perfect vignettes - and from the ring, Rude will promo about how his best friend is headed for the WWF, and the two of them - with the guidance of the Brain - will take over wrestling.

Then Jake will enter and Rude and Brain will scamper. Prior to Survivor Series, Jake will catch up to Bobby alone, DDT'ing him multiple times until Brain has to be stretchered out. From now on when we see Bobby, he'll be in the neckbrace. Jake and Rude will meet at Survivor Series - in a steel cage.

Owen gets the same big push as does Hennig - and here is when we really begin to tell the story of the Dungeon, of Stampede, of the Hart Foundation that makes the backbone of the company forever. If the WWF is a soap opera like Dallas – the Harts are the Ewings. And Owen is Bobby, white hat all the way. They'll show clips from Stampede - of Owen, Bret, Dynamite, Davey Boy - have Owen clips from Japan - and begin to express the opinion that there are those that say Owen. although the baby, may one day be the best of the Hart Family.

Owen will meet Hennig at Survivor Series.

And finally, we have a tag team debuting at Survivor Series - Arn and Tully. Vignettes for them - and they're sold as the Horsemen. Suits, limos - Tully's long run as US champ (see earlier chapters in the Counterfactual for the new NWA history) is spotlighted. Arn and Tully cut a video promo on all the tags in the WWF - faces, heels, they don't care - they aren't part of any groups, they don't care who is aligned with whom - they are their own men and coming to WWF to show who the best wrestlers in the world truly are.

They're gonna meet the Rougeaus for the straps.

The IC is a rematch. The goading from Dynamite got to DBoy, and he cuts promos on Bret, I'm not in your shadow, I carried the Hart Foundation, I'm the British Bulldog and I'm bizarre...

They do tags and reverse singles all fall with Savage/Bret against Dynamite/DBS.

And yeah, it's Savage and Dynamite again - you can feel it - you can feel the momentum behind Randy Savage - and you can feel the momentum behind the WWF - Vince is excited, thrilled, as the level of wrestling continues to increase across the card - and to cap off what looks like a terrific 2nd annual Thanksgiving tradition - it's Dynamite/Savage one more time.

Call your local cable company!!!!

1988 Survivor Series Cleveland
(Dark – Terry Taylor d. Bad News Brown)

1. Rockers d. Demolition
- Aw, fun quick tags, double teams, perfect to start a PPV - people love the babyface Rockers.

2. Ultimate Warrior d. Greg Valentine
-Quick and painless. Warrior cuts an odd post match promo, "You Hammer, have fallen to the power of my Warriors! Fallen to the power of the Master Race - Warrior Nation!"

3. Ted DiBiase (w/Virgil) d. Tito Santana
-Also staying unbeaten, Ted. Tito tastes the money.

4. Curt Hennig (w/Rude) d. Owen Hart
- Loving this. Hennig entered the way Hennig entered, with the sports promos. Difference is we play up hard his lifelong friendship with Rude, as Vince likes to sell the real. So, it’s not just that they’re heels – it’s that they’re top, cocky heels who have known each other since they were children. Owen is pure babyface, and we introduce him as the baby brother of the greatest wrestling dynasty in the world. The problem with Owen’s career is he kept coming and going because they couldn’t figure out how to use him. So, he did the Blazer gimmick and then High Energy. But Counterfactual Vince isn't doing any of that crap – Owen gets the same buildup that Hennig gets – but his vignettes are pieces with the family, in the Dungeon – and we have everyone put him over as the most talented Hart. Even Dynamite, in a taped piece, who wouldn’t shake Steamboat’s hand, recall, even Dynamite, just before this show, does a taped piece saying that Owen’s the most talented of all the Stampeders.

Rude attempts to interfere - Jake runs in and chases him to the back.

Hennig goes over clean - then stomps Owen out postmatch.

Bret saves. He and Owen teaming up on Hennig.

Davey Boy runs in. The DBS/Bret rematch is scheduled for later tonight. Okay, on an SNME, Owen, after getting the big buildup, made a run in to save Bret from a Davey Boy/Dynamite double team -- Dynamite had the chance to plant Owen with the title belt - but hesitated just a little bit. A very subtle, very subtle story point is that Owen's the baby of the family – and out of respect to Stu and Helen, even a pure heel like Dynamite won't go that far. They're all Hart Foundation after all. They don’t want the fans to think Owen’s soft – but Owen’s not Bret, who will just grow harder and harder over the years, and they use his somewhat more delicate nature as best they can.

Here, however, while Hennig PerfectPlexes Bret to take him out, DBS press slams Owen clean out of the ring - Owen's busted up and has to be helped to the back - which provides a reason why he doesn't get used much over the next couple of years.

5. Tags: Anderson/Blanchard d. Rougeaus
- Breaking format here for a reason, tags coming before the big Rude/Jake rematch. Anvil doesn’t come out with the Rougeaus, who put Arn and Tully over in a real good match. Recall, Tully was NWA US champ for 3 years, and they sell that. Vince embraces, as opposed to ignores, the totality of the wrestling context. Announce sells hard, as Arn and Tully take the straps, their independence, that they aren't aligned with anyone in the WWF, and they have come here from the NWA and taken the tag straps.

6. Cage Match: Jake Roberts d. Rick Rude (w/Cheryl)
-Announce notes that it's the first time in PPV history that a non title match has occurred at this place on the card. Emphasizes the importance of this match. Also the first cage match in PPV history - it's not a WWF style cage match, sometimes Vince will still do the escape matches - but this is a pinfall/submission.

It's violent, double juice, Jake getting all the revenge he might need, especially as Cheryl makes her way into the cage to try to save Rude - and the fans get their big misogynistic pop as she gets DDT'd back to the Stone Age.

Jake gets his win - and doesn't relent, DDT'ing Rude twice after the fall - and pulling out his own pair of handcuffs, calling back to the handcuffs that Rude used at Summer Slam. Jake prepares to set the snake loose on the prone Rude - when Hennig runs in. Hennig attacks, gets an advantage, but Jake is able to fight him off as well - the bloody Roberts pounds away at Hennig, hitting the DDT and then gets the snake ready to attack Hennig...

When the new tag champs enter.

Arn and Tully blast away at Jake - announce doesn't understand, Arn and Tully, then a revived Hennig, and a bloody, uncuffed Rude, take Roberts apart -- everyone hitting their finisher - Hennig takes the mic, "Take a picture, take a picture Cleveland - you are watching the birth of the greatest unit in the history of this sport - you are watching the takeover of the World Wrestling Federation by Mr. Perfect, Rick Rude, Arn Anderson, Tully are watching the birth...of the Heenan Family."

Bobby then enters - the five men celebrate - much laughter as they put the boots both to Jake and to the fallen Cheryl - 'cause why not?

And there's your big heel stable.

7. IC Title: Bret d. Davey Boy (w/Anvil)
- Bret sells the injury from being attacked by Hennig during the Owen save– and the Hit Man, despite the surprise presence of the Anvil – still comes through to keep his strap. Bret has to fight both men off, Bret has to overcome his earlier injury, Bret scraps from underneath to get the clean fall, and tap DBS out to the sharpshooter.

Huge face reaction for Bret, who is way over. DBS and Anvil leave the company.

8. WWF Title: Randy Savage (w/ Liz) d. Dynamite Kid
- Another classic, the evil Dynamite loses his title in the rematch with Savage (who wins his second belt, recall he held the IC for 2 years). Savage puts him away with two elbow drops, and the place comes unglued as, for the first time in the 4 year history of WWF PPV, there is a champion other than Dynamite or Steamboat.

At the next TV, Dynamite wrestles Bret for the IC - putting Bret over clean - and Dynamite then leaves the company as the WWF turns the page.

Survivor Series 88. Best PPV to that point.

’88 ends with Starrcade, Flair retakes from Williams, Sting wins his first strap, the US title over Windham, and the Warriors keep their titles. Luger goes over Bigelow, who has moved south. Mike Rotundo’s gets a win – and the JYD has gone NWA too, but he loses. They're gonna turn Windham by this point.

Starrcade 1988 – Norfolk
NWA Title: Ric Flair d. Steve Williams
US Title: Sting d. Barry Windham
Tags: Road Warriors d. Fantastics
Lex Luger d. Bam Bam Bigelow

Rick Steiner d. Ivan Koloff
Mike Rotundo d. Dusty Rhodes
Kevin Sullivan d. JYD
Eaton/Lane d. Condrey/Rose

And now, in January, from Houston, we’re Rumblin’.

If you're new to the Counterfactual - Hello! Consider going back and reading the previous chapters. Particularly "It begins" which sets out the rules. Once the Royal Rumble is added, then we'll be at full strength, all of the big 4 PPVs accounted for. Note that despite the Rumble gimmick being a great gimmick - it doesn't add to workrate - but changing the name is just confusing - so the format for that PPV will be the format for all the rest of them.

So, what's on tap for the inaugural Rumble?

- The Hogan/Andre tag has broken up, with Andre announcing his retirement. Hogan tells Andre that he can't retire until he gives him a rematch from WM IV - that Hogan's gotta have the opportunity to show that he's a legend too. At the top, there's got the hot young babyface Rockers challenging for the straps against the veteran heel Brainbusters. The Heenan Family also is going after the singles, with Hennig challenging Bret, playing off their Survivor Series brawl. There's six man stuff on TV over the winter with Bret and the Rockers against the Busters and Hennig. Vince sells Hennig and Bret as identical in their wrestling skill, selling the technical aspects of the matchup. And Ted’s schtick reaches its height as he gets a shot against Savage.

It's Royal Rumble '89! Call your local thing!

Wrestlemania III/The First Survivor Series 1987

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

II and the build for III are here

Wrestlemania III – 1987 (Detroit)(Dark – Demolition v. Islanders)

Gorilla/Jesse on the announce.

1. Killer Bees d. Hercules/Muraco
-Rinse/repeat from II.

2. Legend's Match: Andre the Giant d. Harley Race
-Andre's the template for this spot, a guy with a following, who can add color to the event but who you don’t put at the top. Vince can take five minutes out of his workrate based show for a match like this. We sell Harley’s 7 NWA runs here and call him a legend. It’s Andre’s third legends win.

3. Rick Martel d. Greg Valentine
-We debut Martel, pure young babyface. Valentine again serves as enhancement talent. Just putting guys over for the big show.

4. Tito Santana d. Brutus "The Butcher" Beefcake
-Didn't Brutus always have the crazy eyes? The crazy, "one day I'll shut down Boston because I have a pound and a half of anthrax that turned out to be blow so it's okay" eyes? So, when Brutus turns over the course of the year, he doesn't grab the garden shears (although, consider the idea of Brutus The Medieval Barber Beefcake - Brutus bringing a bag of leeches to the ring, saying he can rid Tito of an excess of bodily humors) Instead though, Vince sticks with a tried and true method of hiding poor workers, making them garbage wrestlers. The feud between the former partners culminates with the better worker going over.

5. Hulk Hogan d. Roddy Piper (Guest referee: Pat Patterson)
This is Piper’s farewell match. He's re-turned heel, doing the Andy Kauffman Hollywood stuff, saying he’s leaving wrestling forever. So, we use it as the blowoff to the Hogan/Piper feud. It further gets Hogan over, which Vince wants to do, just do it at this part of the card. Hogan wins, Piper leaves. Big pop.

6. Tags: Hart Foundation d. Rougeaus
Harts turned face at the top of ’86, as they’re just too cool to get booed. Stick them with the obvious heel Rougeaus and we both get good matches and build the Canadian following. Harts have now held the tag straps for a full year.

7. IC Title: Randy Savage d. Jake Roberts
Randy’s turned face too, and this culminates a feud between he and, again, the purely evil Jake. The things Jake did to Elizabeth over the course of the year...not as bad as the things Lex would do to her many years later, but good enough for government work. Randy was at the top of his game in ’87 and Jake could go well enough to make this work. A year with the IC strap for Savage.

8. WWF Title: Ricky Steamboat d. Dynamite Kid
The Steamer chases for a year – and regains his strap in the new best match in company history. Need to give the big crowd what they want. First 2 time WWF Champ since Backlund. It’s all babyfaces, Harts, Savage, and Steamboat – and all four men come to the ring to hold their belts as the show ends. Dynamite swearing at his former comrades as they stand in the ring with Savage and Steamboat.

Same formula as II. An all time match, a great match, 4 good matches, and that’s your show. Another fine PPV.

6 months later – WWF adds another PPV. The Survivor Series elimination gimmick is fun, but didn’t so much lead to great wrestling matches. So, we stick with the Mania format. If there's anyone actually reading this, a dubious proposition, as the PPVs increase, the level of storyline narrative will increase exponentially.

Coming into Survivor Series, they turn Jake face, similar to the recent cool heel turns, where the act didn’t change it was the fans who did. Our big addition is Rude, who gets the enormous push upon his entrance with Bobby. They do vignettes with women swooning, young women, old women, nuns, a celebrity if we can find one. Rude doesn't wrestle, doesn't appear in an arena, they just do vignettes putting over the Ravishing character. They use Heenan (love, love Bobby Heenan) as heel color commentator who starts criticizing all the workers, face and heel alike, as not as good as this guy Rick Rude. His target becomes Savage. Savage has lost his edge now that he cares what the humanoids think. Savage is actually held back because he's so whipped by Liz, eventually, Rude does the Clubber Lang promo, albeit on videotape, "Hey woman, hey woman, why don't you come back to my apartment, and I'll show you what it's like to be with a real man." Savage blows up - goes after Bobby - and that's where Rude appears, hitting the Rude Awakening, leaving Savage laid out, swiveling his hips over a terrified Liz.

There's also a babyface feud, Tito and Martel are both chasing the same undercard babyface spot, and they're going to hook up at Survivor Series. Hogan promos that he ran Mr T out of the WWF, he ran Roddy Piper out of the WWF, and now it's time to finish up all the old business and run Paul Orndorff out of the WWF.

The purpose of the PPV is, of course, because the fans are dying to see Steamboat/Dynamite hook it up again, as this all time classic wrestling feud continues. Dynamite, who is being held together by bailing wire, pharaceutic, and a burning desire to recapture the WWF title, is frenzied in the summer of '87. He beats Bret, he beats Davey Boy, he beats Neidhart -- he teams with Jacques and Ray, and they go over the Harts in a 6 man - when Jacques and Ray attempt to get him to share in some brotherly hugging, he stomps them out too. Dynamite leaves all five men laying as he screams at the camera, "I WANT MY BELT - GIMME MY GODDAMN BELT!"

Harts defend again against the Rougeaus and Steamboat once again meets Dynamite. It's a Thanksgiving tradition!

Survivor Series – 1987 (Cleveland)  

Gorilla and Jesse again are the announcers.

(Dark Ted DiBiase d. Tom Zenk)

1. Kiler Bees d. Hercules/Paul Roma
-Who doesn't love the Killer Bees! Masters of the Opening Tag!

2. Bam Bam Bigelow d. Brutus The Butcher Beefcake
- Beefcake attacks Bigelow with his chainsaw - and then the Beast from the East annhilates him.

3. Rick Martel d. Tito Santana
- Both faces, a hard fought match culiminates their summerlong feud and convinces both guys to go into the babyface tag business together as Strike Force. Arriba~

4. Hulk Hogan d. Paul Orndorff
-Hogan goes over and Orndorff goes away. Played up heavy that Hogan ran Piper, Orndorff and Mr. T out of the WWF

5. Jake Roberts d. Greg Valentine
- Jake, recall, lost his IC shot at III – he then turns face, doing the face Jake act, which wasn’t all that different than the heel Jake act – ‘cept that the fans thought it was cool when Jake attacked people with a snake.

6. Tags: Rougeaus d. Hart Foundation
- 18 months later – the Harts drop the straps. Happens here when Neidhart turns on them, ‘cause he’s really a heel, after all, and joins the Rougeaus. Anvil then becomes their manager and Bret and Davey Boy begin their singles careers. Love some Hart Foundation - but it's time to move on.

7. IC Title: Randy Savage (w/Liz) d. Rick Rude (w/Brain)
- Savage run at the IC continues 18 months in. Monster face Savage meets the hot newcomer, the heel Rick Rude with Heenan in his corner. It’s Rude’s first match and although he doesn’t go over – a great match against a top, top guy get him over as a big time heel.

8. WWF Title: Ricky Steamboat d. Dynamite Kid
- Steamboat keeps in this one, going up on Dynamite 2-1 in this PPV feud that now stretches 18 months, every single match an all time classic. Dynamite gets desperate after this match - and as we turn to 1988, he challenges Steamboat one last a Loser Leaves Town at WM IV.

So, the singles titles stay the same – and going into WM IV we have two longrunning babyface champions and a new heel tag team champ. Anvil’s a heel again, Jake’s a face, we’ve formed Strike Force, and Hogan declares that he is the true legend of professional wrestling.

'87 ends with Starrcade

Starrcade – 1987 Chicago
NWA Title: Steve Williams d. Ric Flair
US Title: Barry Windham d. Tully Blanchard
Tags: Road Warriors d. Rock n Roll Express
Sting d. Eddie Gilbert
Lex Luger d. Arn Anderson
Rick Steiner d. Dusty Rhodes
Terry Taylor d. Larry Zybysko
Midnight Express d. Garvins

Four months later, we’re at that awful Trump casino venue they used the next two years. Be that as it may --

DiBiase, who entered with his tremendous schtick after III, is in the midcard now. They do a big man match with monster heel Bigelow against babyface singles Davey Boy. How about the Rude/Jake program with Cheryl Roberts on Rude’s tights? They do that now. Hogan, feeling his oats, calls out Andre, and they do a "who's the legend" program for IV. Rougeaus, with Neidhart as their mouthpiece, three way hugs for everyone, "All American Boys" one of the great entrance themes ever, blaring coast to coast -- they'll take on the hot babyface tag team: Strike Force, forged out of the Tito/Martel program.

Bret gets the singles push, and he’s got Randy in a face/face for the IC. Have you ever heard Bret talk about Randy? They had an interesting relationship - not tight, not like Bret/Hennig, but there was a mutual respect, they saw each other as guys who did things the right way. And Bret saw that as Randy faded, he was picking up the workrate ball.

With Savage now going into 2 full years as IC Champ - he's clearly the established guy here -- Bret's young - recognize it's still 1988 as Vince starts his singles run early. So, while this is a babyface program - it's Bret who is fighting from underneath. Recall the Hart Foundation dynamic - Bret was still Bret, cool guy, sunglasses -- but he was overshadowed by Dynamite, "big brothered" if you will -- and now here's Bret, stepping out on his own against the 2 year champ Savage.

And the big angle is the Loser Leaves Town for the strap, Steamboat and Dynamite finish their feud. They headlined II, III -- and now they headline IV. Steamboat and Dynamite, state of the art workers, putting their WWF careers on the line in Atlantic City!

It's Wrestlemania IV! Call your local cable company! Call it! Call it now!

Wrestlemania II - 1986

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Note - this is the 3rd in a series. My suggestion, go to "It begins" and read in chronological order.  Wrestlemania and the build for II is here

And hey - thanks for reading. Proud of you.

Wrestlemania II – 1986 (Chicago)(Dark – Rougeaus d. Lanny Poffo/Adrian Adonis)
-We’re gonna see a lot of Rougeaus. Same gimmick. I always loved how, even though they were legit brothers, when Jacques and Ray would hug, they got gay heat. This is the gayest dark match in wrestling history.

Gorilla/Jesse on the announce.

1. Killer Bees d. Muraco/Hercules
-Every show begins with an opening tag. Get used to it. Bees are doing the standard quick tagging babyface gimmick. Muraco/Herc are your stock heel power team. Brian Blair lost that election in Tampa, right? And how did Rick Steiner get on the school board? Who thought this was a good idea?

2. Legends Match: Andre the Giant d. Bruno Sammartino (Guest referee-Pedro Morales)
-No, this isn't workrate, but again, I'm limited to people who worked the card, and I didn't feel like using Russ Francis. Think of this as equivalent to the opening match at a big NOAH show. It'll be kept short - and eventually, when we have to use guys who are subpar workers, we'll make them bleed. There's enough juice in this match not to have to any extra, however. Andre took out David at I, prompting Bruno to come out of retirement for one last match. If there’s going to be a WWF legend crowned, he wants to be it. But Andre overwhelms him and takes his second legends win.

3. Hulk Hogan d. Paul Orndorff (w/ Mr. T)
- Hogan gets his heat back from the previous year. We keep Mr. T in the angle by turning him heel, the people will enjoy a little Thunderlips/Clubber Lang action. I bet they could get Carl Weathers to stand in Hogan's corner. Seriously, why did they have to kill Apollo? You don't kill The Count of Monte Fisto. Talia Shire you could have killed. Not Apollo.

4. Jake Roberts v. Greg Valentine
- Jake does his Jake thing. Hammer's a good introductory opponent, rarely had a bad match, he'd let Jake get in his stuff, DDT pinfall.

5. No DQ: Terry Funk d. Dory Funk, Jr.
- This is the first thing on the show that excites me; we let them do whatever they want; there isn't a garbage match on the show, so that makes some sense, but if they wanted to trade holds for 15 minutes, I'd watch that too. It's the Funks at Wrestlemania II, what's to complain about?

6. Tag Titles: Hart Foundation: Bret Hart/Davey Boy Smith (w/Anvil) d.
Recall the rules, winners from the previous PPV defend, when we add the remaining 3 PPVs, it avoids the result of Tito and Beefcake holding for a year, but there's no beef with Tito and 1986 Beefcake, they just aren't the Hart Foundation. Tito/Beefcake still the babyface tag champs. Davey Boy is a significant work upgrade over Neidhart. But Neidhart’s fun, so he replaces Jimmy (of whom I was never really a fan, he was awfully distracting) as the manager. Harts go over clean with the Hart Attack.  Neidhart is really a third man here, the Harts work in multiple combinations throughout the year.

7. IC: Randy Savage (w/Elizabeth) d. Roddy Piper
Now we’re talking. Piper’s defending, over the course of the year, the fans turned him face, largely the way they did at the time. Randy’s doing his heel schtick and goes over clean with the big elbowdrop.

8. WWF Title: Dynamite Kid d. Ricky Steamboat
The best match in the two year WM history. The best match in company history to this point. The beauty part is Steamboat doesn’t carry the company, wrestling carries the company – specifically, this feud. Two of the greatest workers who ever lived, and while Dynamite in '86 wasn't Dynamite of '82, I'm guessing if given the chance to run at the top of the company, he gives what was left of his body. Steamboat is a pure babyface, one of the few top guys who never turned. And Dynamite’s a pure heel, although he never brought the act to the WWF – in Japan in ’83 he was going after Tiger Mask with a broken beer bottle. Not only that, but he was legit. nasty – Billington was drunk, coked up, roided up, popping painkillers, a complete pain in the ass in the back – and absolutely flat crazy-fearless in the ring. Everyone was scared to death of him and he was years ahead of his time in terms of work. They rip down the building and a heel walks out of WM with the strap. The Hart Foundation grabs the tag belts and the big strap, all 4 men hitting the turnbuckles and daring the fans to boo as the show ends.

The result? WM II, a terrible PPV, becomes a really, really good PPV. No need to thank me.

(Horsemen running hard all ’86, as we get to Starrcade, our new additions are the huge babyface tag the Road Warriors and the superconfident babyface Rude.)

Starrcade – 1986 Greensboro
NWA Title: Ric Flair d. Rick Rude
US Title: Tully Blanchard d. Hector Guerrero
Tags: Rock n Roll Express d. Midnight Express
Arn Anderson d. Dusty Rhodes

Ole Anderson d. Wahoo McDaniel
Brad Armstrong d. Ivan Koloff
Bubba Rogers d. Nikita Koloff
Road Warriors d. Ron Garvin/Jim Garvin

A year later, we're going to the Silverdome…we’ve broken up Tito and Beefcake over the course of the year, turning Brutus, except instead of giving him the shears, we're gonna give him a chainsaw. Their feud comes to a head at III. We’ve turned Piper back as he was heading off to go make movies and put him back with Hogan again. Piper does the Andy Kauffman gimmick, bigtiming Hogan and adopting the attitude that he doesn't really need to rekindle their feud, as it's beneath him. Piper's ducking Hogan over the course of the year, avoiding physical contact as much as possible with anyone, will serve to turn him, even despite a pretty rabid following in '87.

The Harts turn. The dynamic inside the Hart Foundation is that Dynamite is always pressing Bret and Davey Boy, always ribbing them, always putting them down - Dynamite's particularly brutal on Bret - insults his wrestling, his manhood. The Harts will tear down a house against any of the babyface tags at the time, and then Dynamite will rip into them. Dynamite, who continues feuding with Steamboat, has a particularly ugly attack against him - ideally, I'd like Steamboat's wife to take a bump from an attacking Dynamite - it's 1987, turning to Mania, if she'd just take a hard shove, that would be pretty good heat. I'd like her to take a headbutt from the top. That will be too much for the Harts, who will run in, and instead of aiding Dynamite, as he requests, they turn face. Dynamite repays the favor when, in a nontitle between the Harts and the Rougeaus, Dynamite interferes to give the Rougeaus the win - and get them the title shot at III.

Steamboat, shockingly, will look for revenge against Dynamite. Aren't they too small, someone might ask Vince, "That's ridiculous, what does a man's size have to do with his ability to work in the ring? Personally, I think wrestling fans enjoy the athleticism that the WWF brings to Pay Per View."

God bless Counterfactual Vince McMahon.

We've got the annual legend's match - this year is Andre against Harley Race - we hard sell Race's 7 NWA straps, as much as we can, we suggest that Race is the ultimate NWA legend.

We’ve also turned Savage. We'll do some Hogan/Savage v. Piper/Jake tags over the course of the year - I want to put Jake and Piper together a little bit, they seem crazy combustible, toss Savage into the mix, make them all travel together. Jake can do whatever he wants here, torment Liz, torment Randy - I think as we drive toward Mania this is a pretty hot feud.

We're going to the Silverdome for Wrestlemania III - it's the Dynamite/Steamboat rematch, Savage and Jake for the IC, the Harts defending against the Rougeaus, Piper's farewell match against Hogan, Tito against the chainsaw wielding Brutus Beefcake, Andre and Race in the Legends Match - Bigger, Better, Badder, it's Wrestlemania III!

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