James Dixon: All of these matches have already been covered by Arnold Furious in the reviews of the respective WrestleMania shows they took place on, elsewhere across the series’ volumes. However, as this is a compilation tape, some are joined in progress and others are slightly different due to clipping. With that in mind, I have decided to just cover the whole tape again so you guys know exactly what you are getting. The tape is different in the UK to the US version, which features Bundy-Hogan from Mania II and doesn’t have Hogan-Andre or Beefcake-DiBiase.
US VERSION ONLY:
Steel Cage Match
Hulk Hogan (c) v King Kong Bundy
The WWF pushed Bundy hard after his debut culminating in an angle where he hit multiple avalanches and injured Hogan’s ribs. At the time the WWF seemed more interested in building monsters for Hogan to slay than giving him interesting opponents. This is a blue bar steel cage match designed to give Hogan an even tougher environment to survive in. The odds are stacked against him, as they often were, leaving him to make the superhero comeback. The thing with Hogan is he could be carried by a better worker. It happened many times and he even had a great match with The Ultimate Warrior. But too often Hogan’s formula would be to take a bunch of heat and Bundy doesn’t have a moveset or a storyline that’ll make that interesting. Rib injury or no, people don’t buy Bundy as a major threat. The atmosphere is still decent but not the same as Hogan-Piper or Hogan-Orndorff, or especially Hogan-Andre. The crowd have more fun cheering Hogan on as he gets his revenge. Bundy blades, gets thrown into the cage a load of times and choked with Hogan’s rib tape. But we’re not done just yet as Bundy crushes Hogan a few times. The Avalanche leaves Hogan prone but he stops Bundy at the door. That was the spot where if Bundy was going to win, it would happen. Hogan no-sells a second avalanche and slams Bundy. That’s all she wrote. Big boot, legdrop and he climbs out to retain. Despite the rib angle, I’m still not convinced the crowd bought Bundy as a threat. Hogan was so over at the time he could literally face anyone and get big reactions, but the WWF was being a bit sneaky about it. They were careful with who was in there with him and if there was a sign of someone getting more popular, as was the case with Jake Roberts, they’d abandon the feud. Hulkamania was the backbone of Vince’s empire so he needed to keep his champ strong. That sort of explains the booking around WrestleMania II. For me personally, I think the whole angle was a disappointment.
Final Rating: *
WWF Championship (Vacant)
Macho Man Randy Savage vs. Ted DiBiase
This is the WWF title tournament final from WrestleMania IV and this match is seemingly on every comp tape! We also reviewed it for Wrestling Superheroes (In Action). That tape was released RIGHT AFTER THIS ONE in fact! It is unbelievable. They gave no thought whatsoever to the collectors, people who were their hardcore fan base. Nothing has changed in that regard with the WWE actually, who rarely give the most loyal supporters what they want. The match is not even that good! I think it may be the most overused match in WWF history, along with Andre-Hogan, which will inevitably be on here too. For the sake of completion, here is the review again anyway. Andre gets involved twice early on, tripping Savage and already the crowd is chanting for Hogan. He is taking Savage’s heat already, and he isn’t even the champion yet. DiBiase has the best of the early going thanks to Andre’s involvement, but Savage comes back with a hard right and a clothesline. It is back-and-forth, until Savage clotheslines DiBiase on the ropes and then knees him in the back to send him outside of the ring. Andre prevents a dive from the top, so Savage sends Elizabeth backstage with instructions. The crowd know what’s coming. It is almost like the WWF was predictable, or something. Lo and behold, here comes Hogan with Elizabeth, steaming in for some spotlight. DiBiase controls Savage in the ring, as Hogan takes a seat at ringside. Savage looks tired from his three previous matches. As I have said before, it is a shame they didn’t get to do this match both fresh on pay-per-view at least one time. Andre gets involved again, but Hogan confronts him over it. DiBiase still controls the bout, hitting a suplex and a gutwrench for two. Slam from DiBiase but he gets caught going up top with a press slam, only for Savage to miss the elbow, and then Hogan cheats. DiBiase has the Million Dollar Dream on, and Hogan comes in and waffles him with a chair. Disgraceful behaviour from the cheating orange bastard. Lee argues that it was a show-long storyline arc paying off because the same thing had happened to Hogan earlier in the night. I think Hogan would have done it anyway. Savage climbs the ropes and hits the big elbow to win the match and the vacant title, then celebrates with Hogan and Elizabeth, to the approval of the crowd. Ventura is right saying DiBiase was robbed. I really do not like that match, regardless of its historical significance, the action is slow and one-sided, and the Hogan involvement ruins it for me.
Final Rating: *¾
20-Man Battle Royal
We go to WrestleMania II, and this match featured guys from the WWF and the NFL. It’s a rare chance to see Bret Hart and Bruno Sammartino in the same ring. What a match THAT could have been if both guys were in their prime. When you look back, it is pretty wild that they did this match, and it is actually no-where near as awful as it had the potential to be. The NFL guys got it and understood the rules of the match, which is not that easy a thing to do. Dan Spivey looks a helluva lot like Hulk Hogan. Andre is doing his best Hogan impression as well, wearing all yellow. Did guys think they would get over more by wearing the same colours? The crowd explodes as local hero ‘The Fridge’ takes down both the Hart Foundation with a tackle, then targets Big John Studd. Studd eliminates him to massive boos, but Fridge pulls him out afterwards. He has learnt his sportsmanship from Hogan! The final four is Russ Francis, Andre the Giant and the Hart Foundation. The Harts eliminate Francis and then target Andre. He kicks them both off when they try to eliminate him, and knocks Bret down with a huge boot to the face. Double noggin knocker and a big boot sends Neidhart out in one of the stupidest bumps you are every likely to see. Anvil stopped, changed direction, and then essentially ran and jumped over the top rope. Wild. Andre eliminates Hart by throwing him over the top onto Neidhart, thus winning the match. This was fairly short and exciting and there were some really fun moments, especially involving Fridge. Far better than it should have been, considering it was half NFL players.
Final Rating: **
Macho King Randy Savage vs. The Ultimate Warrior
Joined in progress from WrestleMania VII. Very in progress actually, as Savage has already started with the elbows, just hitting his second. It is a shame, because this is one of the all-time great WrestleMania matches. The crowd really does go apeshit at Savage doing more and more top rope elbows. That is five now. No one in the building can believe it when Warrior kicks out. Warrior’s comeback spells the end, always, but incredibly Savage kicks out. That was a real “holy shit” moment at the time and still brings the spine tingles now. Warrior talks to his hands and to God, looking for answers, his self-belief inexorably shaken. The ref has to talk Warrior out of leaving. Suddenly, whatever Warrior was taking kicks in, and he wipes out Savage three times with flying shoulder tackles, getting the win and retiring the Macho Man. This really was the first truly epic WrestleMania match, with them kicking out of each others’ finishers and huge moves being repeated. I guess Warrior-Hogan was similar, but either way, Warrior was incredibly one of the trendsetters for the modern style Mania match. Something to think about for all you ant-Warrior folk! A perfectly crafted bout, but it should have been shown in full, and thus it’s impossible to rate it because it was so far through. The post match angle remains one of the all-time best, if not THE best in WWF history, as Savage and Elizabeth reunite after over two years apart.
UK VERSION ONLY:
Brutus Beefcake vs. Ted DiBiase
Oh yeah, THIS they show in full. Why is this even on here? There are loads of better matches; this is just a generic nothing bout with a cop-out finish. Beefcake controls DiBiase from the opening bell, and sends him reeling to the outside twice. DiBiase comes back with help from Virgil, and he goes on the offensive for the first time. Clothesline from DiBiase and a big double axe handle from the second rope, which gets two. Beefcake took an age getting into position there, you could see DiBiase getting frustrated with him. Beefcakes makes a comeback, switching a suplex into one of his own, and a double clothesline takes both guys down. DiBiase is up first and this time he does hit the suplex, before locking on the Million Dollar Dream. Beefcake escapes into the ropes, and fires back by ramming DiBiase’s head into the buckles a number of times. Sleeper from Beefcake, but he gets distracted by Virgil and then sent to the outside. This has felt like 15-minutes but it was probably half that. Oh look, a double count out, how immensely satisfying. God forbid Hogan’s buddy does a job.
Final Rating: *
UK VERSION ONLY:
Hulk Hogan (c) vs. Andre the Giant
This is the WrestleMania IV match between these guys, rather than the much more famous match from ‘Mania III, and this one is by far the worst of the two. Why do we have time to sit through Hogan’s music, but not see Savage-Warrior in full? This match is a terrible choice to be on a best of tape of any kind, it’s a woeful effort. Andre jumps Hogan with a headbutt and clubs away at him with chops and punches. Hogan fights back with forearms and chops. Andre gets trapped in the ropes as he did in most matches, but DiBiase and Virgil free him. Hogan finally knocks Andre down and drops three elbow drops, but Andre blocks the pin attempt with a choke. Sloppy stuff from Andre, he was worthless in the ring at this point. Everything he does looks so laboured and fake, it is hard to watch. Andre uses the double nerve pinch to wear Hogan down, but he fights out. Hogan goes for the slam, but DiBiase blocks it with a chair shot, which Hogan ignores completely and doesn’t sell at all. Hogan grabs the chair and he and Andre fight over it, leading to a double disqualification and both guys are out of the tournament. Awful. Post match Hogan batters Virgil and then slams Andre, to kill any remaining warm memories from ‘Mania III. Now we have to suffer through him posing for an absolute age. All of this time could have been used for the Savage-Warrior match instead. Egomania running wild!
Final Rating: ¼*
Summary: A tape ruined by Hogan! The best match was clipped down to the finish, and the rest were questionable inclusions at best. This could have been far better than it was. Instead it is a random series of average matches, two of which don’t even have proper finishes. Where is Steamboat-Savage? It’s not a best of Mania without that match. They should have let a fan pick the matches, because they could have produced a truly special tape. While it is very short and thus not truly dire, this is still completely avoidable and not worth watching.
UK Verdict: 37
US Verdict: 45