Arnold Furious: The WWF had been on a white-hot run. Hulkamania’s four years of Sportz Entertainment dominance had resulted in big business for Vince McMahon and everything the WWF did seemed to turn into cash. They even found themselves a brand new business model, almost by accident. After Randy Savage won the WWF title at Wrestlemania IV, the WWF started see business improving on its B shows and soon it was tough to tell which show was the B show as it wasn’t always the non-Hogan one. Soon the WWF was raking it in for having shows featuring Hogan in one city and shows featuring WWF champion Randy Savage in another.
Case in point: 7th August 1988. The WWF ran Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto, drawing 8,500 with Savage vs. DiBiase in a cage for the title. The undercard even had Honky Tonk Man defending the IC title against Brutus Beefcake. Big house, big night. The same night they ran the Greensboro Coliseum, drawing 3,670, with Hogan vs. Andre on top and the tag titles on the undercard. They even had enough guys left over to run Manchester, New Hampshire with a C crew with Tito & Bossman on top in front of a relatively Indy-sized crowd of 1,500. Three house shows in one night, 13,500+ paid, plus merchandise sales, plus potential spike in revenue for touring more cities and the WWF was phenomenally successful. Usually the B show would be headlined by The Rockers or Jake Roberts but during this year they had an A and B show that would genuinely sell out reasonable sized venues while still riding the wave of Hulkamania. There was potential, back then, for a roster split and two promotions running under the WWF banner. Such was their popularity and success. One headed by Hogan, one by Savage.
Business was so good the WWF expanded their PPV’s to four a year with the 1989 Royal Rumble. The buyrate was actually tepid and approximately 165,000 fans bought the PPV, compared to 310,000 for the 1988 Survivor Series. For those who imagine the 80s boom running from 1984-1988, to match Hogan’s first title reign, think again. The numbers for Wrestlemania V came in huge. 767,000 buys. A number that stayed a WWF record until the Attitude Era. The temptation must surely have existed for the WWF to not pull the trigger on the big feud that rocked the core of the WWF in 1989. The Hogan-Savage “Megapowers Explode” encounter was a massive money match, reserved for a year until Wrestlemania V. The idea being that Hogan would at first be reluctant to come after his friend and would quietly, and then not so quietly, assist his retention of the belt. Randy would become more frustrated as the year continued (no PPV title defences, tagging with Hogan at big shows). He couldn’t exist as champion without a victory over Hogan and Hulk’s insistence at using Miss Elizabeth as his manager too must surely have rubbed Savage up the wrong way. Not even from a kayfabed perspective either.
We’re in Atlantic City, New Jersey at the Trump Plaza Convention Center. It’s probably the worst ever Wrestlemania venue and one that created a horrible atmosphere for the dull-as-ditchwater Wrestlemania IV. At least this ‘Mania boasts a headline match to meet with the occasion. Unfortunately it also boasts the vast majority of the roster. An astonishing 14 matches took place at Wrestlemania V. Hosts for the evening are Gorilla Monsoon & Jesse Ventura, on sparkling form as always.