THE SPECIALISTS Nostalgia Review: Wrestlemania 4; Savage vs. DiBiase, Savage vs. Steamboat, Hogan vs. Andre
Mar 3, 2008 - 1:56:34 PM
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Brian Hoops, PW Torch.com Nostalgia Specialist
This week’s look back at wrestling nostalgia takes us back to March 27, 1988 and to Wrestlemania IV. After the ultra-successful Wrestlemania III the year before, based around the Andre-Hulk Hogan title match, the WWF took a major step back word in 1988 with Wrestlemania IV that was based around a 14 man tournament for the vacant WWF Heavyweight Title. The show was held in Atlantic City, New Jersey and drew 18,165 fans, however the majority of the top tickets were handed out to casino patrons who sat on their hand most of the night. This show was four hours in length, which was another major drawback as the show came off dull, long and boring.
As for the show itself, it was based around a 14 man tournament for the vacant WWF Title. President Jack Tunney had stripped Andre the Giant of the WWF Title after he had attempted to sell the belt to Ted DiBiase. In reality, DiBiase actually defended the belt on 2 house shows in between the time Andre won it and when Tunney’s ruling aired on TV. Tunney awarded the two previous champions, Andre and Hulk Hogan byes in the first round, but they had to meet each other in a rematch of Wrestlemania III to start round 2.
Mean Gene Okerlund opens the show and introduces Gladys Knight to sing My Country Tis of Thee.
Your broadcast team is Gorilla Monsoon & Jesse Ventura and the return of Bob Uecker.
1. Bad News Brown won a 20 Man Battle Royal in 10:40. Other participants in the Battle Royal included the Hart Foundation, Young Stallions, Sika, Danny Davis, Killer Bees, Sam Houston, Rougeau Brothers, Ken Patera, Ron Bass, JYD, The Bolshevicks, Hillbilly Jim, Harley Race and George Steele. The Mania battle royal to get everyone on the show tradition is born. Although in this case the match had a purpose. Sam Houston goes out first followed by Sika. Steele, from the floor grabs the Anvil by the beard and pulls him out. Raymond Rougeau and both Bees fly out. Ron Bass is next to go. Hillbilly Jim is tossed by Boris. Danny Davis is dumped by Paul Roma, Jim Powers goes next. up. Volkoff is gone via Ken Patera but the evil Russians team up to take out Patera. JYD gains revenge by eliminating Harley Race. Your final four is JYD, Bad News, Bret & Paul Roma. Roma is gone in seconds. The heels team up on the Dog and then just dump him ending the 3 man Stampede reunion. Bret & Bad News celebrate and then Bad News turns on Bret with a Ghetto Blaster. He then dumps Bret for the win. This was done for a few reasons. First it got the newcomer, Bad News over as a bad ass loner, then it turned Bret face and gave a reason for his singles push while allowing him to return to singles with an opponent that he had already worked with hundreds of times. That push would be aborted quickly and by the next year the Foundation would be back together.
2. Ted DiBiase defeated Jim Duggan in 4:54 in advance in the first round of the heavyweight tournament. These two had tremendous feuds and matches in their Mid South days, but sadly this was a poor match. Andre, at ringside with DiBiase; punched Duggan and DiBiase pinned Duggan to advance.
3. Don “The Rock” Muraco w/Superstar Billy Graham defeated Dino Bravo w/Frenchy Martin in 4:53 by diqualification. Muraco had turned babyface and Graham had just had the hip replacement surgery and was working as a manager. Bad match. Muraco goes for a body press and Bravo pulls the ref in front for the DQ.
Bob Uecker interviews Jimmy Hart & the Honky Tonk Man
4. Greg “The Hammer” Valentine w/Jimmy Hart pinned Ricky Steamboat in 9:12. Steamboat brings his newborn son to the ring. This match is like a Mid Atlantic reunion. After WrestlemMania III, Steamboat wanted six weeks off to be with his wife when his son was born. Vince McMahon told Steamboat he couldn’t have the IC champion off the road for 6 weeks so Steamboat took 6 months off. When Steamboat cam back, WWF buried him in opening matches. Original plan was for a rematch with Steamboat and Savage from Wrestlemania III with Savage getting his win back, however the day of the show Vince changed his mind. Good match that saw Valentine roll through a flying body press and pin Steamboat.
Mean Gene interviews the Bulldogs & Koko B. Ware.
5. Randy Savage pinned Butch Reed in 5:07. Savage had Elizabeth with him and Reed had Slick. Short match since Savage had to work two more times on this show.
Bob Uecker interviews Bobby Heenan & the Islanders
6. One Man Gang with Slick defeated Bam Bam Bigelow w/Sir Oliver Humperdink by countout in 2:56. Mercifully, this is very short and dominated by Bigelow before he is counted out to let the Gang advance.
Mean Gene interviews Hulk Hogan. Hogan says he is going to slam Andre so hard that the entire east coast from New York to Tampa is going to fall into the sea.
7. Rick Rude and Jake Roberts went to a 15:00 minute time limit draw. The match was not as good as it looks on paper as Rude was not yet a great heel and Roberts was working as a babyface. I always enjoyed Roberts as a heel more than a face. They went the full 15 minutes to a draw so the Gang can have a bye.
8. Ultimate warrior pinned Hercules in 4:29. They do the double pin and Warrior lifts his shoulder spot for a very unimpressive win.
9. Hulk Hogan fought Andre the Giant w/DiBiase to a double disqualification in 5:22. They brought a chair into the ring and both use it for the double disqualification. Hogan bodyslammed Andre and Hogan posed for the crowd. An already quiet crowd lost all interest after the only major star they knew was eliminated.
Mean Gene interviewed Randy Savage and Miss Elizabeth.
10. Ted DiBiase w/Virgil pinned Don Muraco w/Superstar Billy Graham in 5:44. The winner of this match gets a bye to the finals. Nothing of a match.
Bob Uecker interviews Mr. Fuji & Demolition about their upcoming tag team title match with Strike Force.
11. Randy Savage defeats Greg Valentine w/Jimmy Hart in 6:06 after Savage countered a figure four attempt with a small package for the win.
12. Brutus Beefcake defeated the Honky Tonk Man by dq in 6:30 in a match for the Intercontinental Title. Honky Tonk Man was seconded by Jimmy Hart & Peggy Sue. Useless trivia: Peggy Sue is Sheri Martel with the blonde wig. Another nothing match which ends with Beefcake putting HTM in a sleeper, so Jimmy Hart knocks out the referee with the megaphone. To make the fans happy, Beefcake chases after Hart and cuts his hair.
13. Islanders & Bobby Heenan defeat the British Bulldogs & Koko B. Ware in 7:30 when Heenan pins Ware. The Islanders were Haku/Meng and Tama, the former Tonga Kid, and current brother of Rikishi & Umaga. This match was built around Bobby Heenan stealing the British Bulldog’s bulldog Matilda.
14. Randy Savage defeated the One Man Gang w/Slick in 4:05 by another disqualification. Savage had a history with OMG, which the WWF of course ignored. Savage’s father, Angelo Poffo ran the ICW and gave the OMG his start in wrestling. Gang worked under Savage before turning face and siding with Ronnie Garvin in a feud against Savage. This match had an awful finish as Slick gave Gang the cane and he used it on Savage right in front of the referee for the DQ.
15. Demolition Axe and Smash w/Mr. Fuji defeated Strike Force, Tito Santana and Rick Martel in 12:33 for the WWF Tag Team Titles. One of the better matches on the card. Finish came with Martel putting the Boston Crab on Smash and Tito stops Axe from interfering and then goes for Fuji. Fuji takes a bump and the cane lands in the ring. Ax hits Martel with it, and the Demolition are your new tag champs.
16. Randy Savage defeated Ted DiBiase in 9:27 to win his first WWF Title. DiBiase was scheduled to win this tournament and he was going to be booked as a long term heel champion. However, the
Honky Tonk Man was supposed to drop the IC title to Savage and refused. Vince gave in and allowed HTM to keep the belt and no decided to make Savage World Champion instead of IC Champion with the long range plans changed to Savage turning heel and Hogan chasing the belt to climax at the next Wrestlemania. Finish came when Hogan did a run and hit DiBiase with a chair. Savage came off the top with the flying elbow for the pinfall.
Summary: This was one of the worst Wrestlemanias of all time. It was dull, poorly executed with way too many matches. Sixteen matches on the show with none of them being a stand out match. 5 matches ended in a dq or countout finish and one match was a draw. There isn’t anything on this show that is worth going out of your way to see.
I hope you enjoyed this week’s look at wrestling nostalgia. If you have any questions or comments, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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