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.

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!


Grover Girl said...

You never educated me on the wrestling, so this means nothing to me. I blame it totally on you.

Jim said...

In retrospect, I'm wishcasting here with Dynamite.

I think I had read Pure Dynamite before writing this part of the Counterfactual, and I did recognize that his body had broken down to a significant degree, but now, having read both Bret's book and the Stampede book, I have a more fully realized understanding of Dynamite's limitations in 1987.

Doesn't mean I'd do it differently, just that the level of work expectation would have to be tempered.

Incidentally, I think I'd be okay with giving Dynamite the strap, even though he was more than half crazy. Essentially, I think the way to control bad behavior by geniuses (and that's what he was, Billington was a wrestling Mozart) is to give them more responsibility and not less. Like, to a lesser extent, Don Nelson making Stephen Jackson Golden St's captain. Not saying it works forever, but, for a limited time, I think you maximize your chance of bringing out the best in him by saying the boys all need him.

Jim said...

I should have used Zenk and Orton at WM III.

I should have made the opening tag a 3 way and used Zenk and Orton.

Early for 3, instead of that, I should have made it a 6 man, Zenk with the Bees and Orton with the heels. That's better.

Jim said...

I should have used Race and Andre at the first Survivor Series.

They couldn't go and I didn't need them, but I should have used them anyway, either adding a 9th match, maybe even before the opening tagt, just to do it - or again, done an opening six man - Andre with the Bees and Race with the heels.

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