With September being the month of the infamous Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame honoring the greatest names in the history of the business who made a difference, its kind of sad that many people who DO deserve it will be left out (see the Rock N Roll Express, Dick Murdoch, Arn, Sting. etc). But what about those journeymen who, maybe didn’t sell out the Garden or the Tokyo Dome, or even the ECW Bingo Hall, but still hold a place in the hearts of many.
When it’s all said and done, what Wrestlemania 23 will be remembered for is a haircut match. This isn’t any random old haircut match. This was a billionaire’s haircut match. Well, at least one of them was a billionaire.
Donald Trump has been affiliated with wrestling in the past. He hosted Wrestlemania IV and V at his Trump Plaza in Atlantic City, New Jersey. They were two of the worst Wrestlemania’s ever, but that didn’t stop Vince McMahon from calling Trump’s name some 18 years later. And McMahon needed it.
Wrestlemania is what Vince McMahon and company build to every year. It’s their Super Bowl. It’s always the biggest PPV of the year, and the one in which they pull out all the stops. This year, the stops was Donald Trump. You might wonder why putting Donald Trump on a wrestling show, and one that he won’t even wrestle on, is important. The reason it’s important is because people wanted to pay to see who would get their hair cut between Vince and the Donald. Can you imagine a bald Donald Trump? Everyone wants to see that right? Even though anyone in their right mind would know that Trump would’ve never signed on to a match in which he’d lose his hair, it was built up so well, and it went on to be the main event in the biggest money making event in company history.
Donald Trump is still a big name. Even though his television show, The Apprentice was struggling mightily, he’s a well known public figure. And to get a well known public figure who isn’t a one hit wonder (like Kevin Federline) was a major coup for the WWE. It allowed them to enter the main stream media for a short while. The media picked up on Donald Trump being involved with wrestling and it sparked a little bit of a buzz. The wrestling fans are going to buy Wrestlemania. The goal is to get everyone else to do so. Continue reading
Alan and I have differing opinions on this show. He actually liked it while I hated it. I’ll sprinkle in some of his thoughts as we go.
The Hulk Hogan era was supposed to be over. The WWF was slowly changing the guard. They were trying to change what they had ingrained into fans on what wrestling was supposed to be. Bigger than life characters. Huge muscle bound guys are always better than smaller, faster guys. And Hulk Hogan was the best of them all. However, there was going to be a time when Hogan wasn’t going to be around. And during 1993, they were trying to change what they had been teaching fans for 10 years. Bret Hart beat Ric Flair for the championship to get his first WWF World Title reign in late 1992. I remember the day when I heard Hart won the championship. My friend told me to guess who had just beat Flair for the belt, and because I never expected the WWF to get behind Hart, I must’ve went through five guys before I guessed Hart. And I expected him to be nothing more than a transitional champion. However, it showed that the WWF was trying to find someone new to carry the torch so to speak. However, Hogan came back into the picture. It was supposed to be the first Wrestlemania without Hogan. Pro Wrestling Illustrated’s Wrestlemania preview didn’t even list Hogan as being on the card. Hogan came back into the picture quickly as Vince probably didn’t see Wrestlemania being big without him. Hogan held all the cards back then, which is a far cry from where he is today. Of course, Hogan reportedly wanted to win the belt immediately, but if Bret Hart was ever going to be anything, losing it to Hogan in a squash would’ve killed any steam he had. Hogan was then put into a quick feud with Money Inc. where he saved his good friend Ed Leslie, better known as Brutus Beefecake, from a beat down and they played up on the true story of Beefcake having to get reconstructive surgery on his face in a para sailing accident. Hogan and Beefcake were now to challenge Ted DiBiase and IRS (Mike Rotunda) for the tag team championship. They were terribly called The Mega-Maniacs.
(I seem to remember them announcing this terrible name on RAW. They were trying to come up with a name and all of a sudden, Hogan said the name The Mega-Maniacs. However, I believe Jimmy Hart’s jacket already had the name on the back before they were trying to come up with the name. Oops.)
It was a very boring match, but the crowd popped like crazy for it. Hogan was up to his usual antics very much so through the entire match playing up to the crowd. With DiBiase and IRS in the ring, it made the match at least watchable, but the fans very much so wanted a title change. The finish was extremely silly with Jimmy Hart counting a double pin fall that was later overturned by the referee. When Hogan and Beefecake didn’t get the belts, that should have told the viewers something, considering Hogan had never been in anything short of the main event in Wrestlemania.
It was the night the Mega Powers were about to explode. But to the fans, that night happened at The Main Event which was broadcast on NBC. Hulk Hogan and Randy “Macho Man” Savage were wrestling the Twin Towers of the Big Bossman and Akeem (One Man Gang). Tension had already been building between Hogan and Savage on television as the storyline had been built up for over a year. Ever since Vince McMahon made the decision to put the belt on Savage as Hogan’s replacement champion, he had a blueprint on how Hogan was going to get the belt back. And it involved the lovely Elizabeth. At The Main Event, Savage was whipped towards the outside of the ring and plowed into the Elizabeth. Elizabeth was “knocked unconscious” and with Savage out of his wits from being thrown to the outside, Hogan had to save her. He picked her up and took her to the back, leaving Savage to fight on his own. After the match, Savage jumped Hogan from behind with a groggy Elizabeth pleading with the two men to get a long. Hogan couldn’t believe Savage was jealous and Savage couldn’t believe Hogan couldn’t believe Savage was jealous. The build up towards this match was excellent. It started the prior summer.
At the very first SummerSlam in 1988, the tease to the breakup first started. Hogan and Savage were in the midst of a bro-mance. They had a goofy handshake and were called the Mega Powers, which was supposedly a name to make fun of the Super Powers, who were Dusty Rhodes and Nikita Koloff. The Mega Powers were to face Andre The Giant and Ted DiBiase. Jesse “The Body” Ventura was the designated special guest referee. And Hogan promised that Elizabeth was going to wear an itsy bitsy teeny weeny bikini. Randy Savage probably put the kibosh on it and as a twelve year old boy with a mighty crush on Elizabeth, I was disappointed. Elizabeth did wear a bikini bottom at least and helped the Mega Powers win the match, and the tease started. As they won, Hogan hoisted up Elizabeth on his shoulder to celebrate, and Savage gave him one slightly disgusted look before they went off air. That’s all it took. You knew right then and there, it was going to happen. And you knew it was going to happen at Wrestlemania. So the big question was that if you already know what is going to happen, why watch it? I don’t think movie plot lines are all that hard to figure out. I don’t think sitcom plot lines are all that hard to figure out. Same here. They just lead to a logical path. And if they are done well, it doesn’t matter if you know what is going to happen.
From SummerSlam, to The Main Event, to Wrestlemania, there was a logical story thread that led to their first meeting in at least a couple years. Savage as the heel, had been a fan favorite, and he had some good matches with Ted DiBiase, but when Hogan was ready to come back from his first movie role, the belt had to come back to Hogan. The match itself was anticlimactic, but the buildup was still great. Savage was the ultimate jealous heel and he let Elizabeth know that she was his woman. Elizabeth played the damsel in despair role and she did it well. She understood her role perfectly and had great facials. And while Hogan couldn’t understand how Savage could be upset, the storyline arc was completed. You were lead to believe that whoever won would get Elizabeth. It didn’t exactly happen that way, but that’s what you were lead to believe.
I have a feeling my kids are going to want this game badly, even if they’re too young to have watched many of these guys wrestle.
Here’s the list of wrestlers and managers in the game according to IGN.com.
Andre The Giant
Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka
Junk Yard Dog
Bam Bam Bigelow
King Kong Bundy
Koko B. Ware
Big John Studd
Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake
Ravishing Rick Rude
Greg “The Hammer” Valentine
Rowdy Roddy Piper
Hacksaw Jim Duggan
Honky Tonk Man
Stone Cold Steve Austin
The Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase
Hunter Hearst Helmsley
Jake The Snake
Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart
Bobby “The Brain” Heenan
I remember it like it was yesterday. I was watching Saturday Night’s Main Event where the big angle for this Wrestlemania started. The main event was scheduled for Hulk Hogan vs. The Magnificent Muraco and instead of Muraco’s regular manager Mr. Fuji by his side, Bobby Heenan was in his corner. They said that Fuji had the flu, which was an angle alert. However, I was only nine so I didn’t know about angle alerts. During the match, Hogan went after Heenan and King Kong Bundy came in to attack Hogan and “pearl harbor” him as Vince McMahon would say. It was a sneak attack that left Hogan laying in the ring, taking big splash after big splash. As a young Hulkamaniac, I was devastated. I had just been turned on to wrestling the year before by my best friend at the time, and I bit hook, line, and sinker. There I was, up at midnight, watching my hero take the beating of his life. Bundy was played up huge. He was a mountain of a man. He actually resembled the letter “O” with his short but fat torso and lack of neck. He used to be called a condominium with legs. As Hogan lay lifeless in the ring, I was upset at this guy with the bald head and wrinkled forehead. But I was smart enough to know my guy was going to get revenge. The storyline was that Hogan was in the hospital suffering from rib injuries and you could write the Hulkster to wish him well. I wasn’t that gullible, but I know other young kids were. They even had Mean Gene Okerlund talk to the doctor and they showed x-rays of Hogan to sell the angle. They would meet again in the main event of Wrestlemania 2 and in a steel cage.