Too good to last. That’s what the team of Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage was. They were unstoppable as a unit, but ego and jealousy overcame their friendship and they became the bitterest of rivals. And the amazing thing is I could be talking about the storyline they were part of or their real-life relationship, because the two were nearly identical. Friends turned enemies turned friends turned enemies.
Thing were going well enough until Hogan insisted that Elizabeth accompany him to the ring for his match against Akeem on Saturday Night’s Main Event. In a brawl after the match Elizabeth was accosted and handcuffed by Akeem’s tag team partner, the Big Boss Man. Savage prevented Boss Man from attacking Elizabeth and left Hogan lying in the ring.
At Survivor Series 1988 Hogan and Savage captained a winning team and Savage became annoyed by Hogan’s posing with Elizabeth after the match. At the 1989 Royal Rumble Hogan eliminated Savage (apparently unintentionally) while also throwing out Bad News Brown. The tension was heating up, and it exploded on The Main Event on February 3rd, 1989. The Mega Powers faced The Twin Towers of Akeem and Big Boss Man. Elizabeth was at ringside and was injured when Savage was thrown into her by Akeem. Hogan left the ring and carried Elizabeth to the back so she could receive medical attention, allowing Savage to be double-teamed by Boss Man and Akeem. Hogan did eventually return, but Savage walked out on him after slapping him in the face.
Hogan confronted Savage backstage and things got physical:
Hogan responded by challenging Savage to a match at Wrestlemania V, which Savage accepted. Savage cut a series of fantastic promos on Hogan in the run-up, claiming Hogan had “lust in his eyes” when looking at Elizabeth.
And so the stage was set for one of the greatest main events in Wrestlemania history.
Hercules vs. King Haku
Hercules turned face, abandoning his long-time manager Bobby Heenan. This is Heenan’s bid for revenge, as Haku is part of his stable. Decent match with both guys showcasing their power. Hercules wins with a Back Suplex into a pin.
Rating: *¾. Love seeing big guys throw each other around.
The Rockers vs. The Twin Towers
The Twin Towers were Big Boss Man and Akeem, AKA One Man Gang. This is a battle of the speed and agility of The Rockers against the size and power of Boss Man and Akeem. This is a fun match with the Rockers getting in a lot of offense. Shawn comes off the top looking for what appears to be a Hurricanrana, but gets Powerbombed by Boss Man. Akeem tags in and hits a Splash for the win.
Rating: ***. Fun tag match. The Rockers were phenomenal.
Brutus Beefcake vs. Ted DiBiase
Pretty big fall for DiBiase, going from being in the main event the previous year to the third match on the card this year. This is a decent but basic match that ends in a double count out after ten minutes.
Rating: *½. Nothing special.
The Bushwackers vs. The Fabulous Rougeaus
Never a fan of The Bushwackers. Just find the gimmick to be too silly. On the other hand, I always though The Rougeaus deserved a better push. Unfortunately, the Bushwackers win this one in five minutes, which is probably a career lowlight for the Rougeaus.
Rating: *. Basic tag match, but hard to work a good tag in five minutes.
Mr. Perfect vs. The Blue Blazer
Owen vs. Hennig? Yes, please. Perfect is still undefeated at this point. Pretty good back and forth match that unfortunately doesn’t have much heat behind it. Blazer nearly gets the win with a Crucifix Pin, but Perfect comes back with the Perfect Plex for the win. Wish they had more tie.
Rating: ***. Too bad the crowd was so dead.
This is the second year in a row where they’ve done a Jesse Ventura posedown segment. And both times it’s absolutely blown the roof off. If Jesse hadn’t had the clotting issue he would have had a monster run in the WWF.
Run DMC perform. I would consider this one of the better Wrestlemania music acts. At least Run DMC were relevant at this point.
World Tag Team Championship: Demolition (c) vs. The Powers of Pain and Mr. Fuji
Fuji turned on Demolition at Survivor Series, joining The Powers of Pain. Somehow, the tag titles are on the line in this handicap match. Ax gets worked over for most of the match, leading to a hot tag to Smash. Demolition cleans house and then hits the Demolition Decapitation on Fuji for the win. Nothing special, but crowd loved Demolition getting their hands on Fuji.
Rating: *. Straightforward tag match.
Ronnie Garvin vs. Dino Bravo
Quick match with Bravo getting the win in four minutes with his Side Suplex.
Rating: ¾*. No reason for this to have been on the show.
Strikeforce vs. The Brain Busters
Brain Busters were Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard in their short but awesome run in the WWF. How good were Arn and Tully? Vince didn’t try to give them a gimmick. This is a tag wrestling clinic. Face team has the advantage until the heels cheat. Heels work an interesting heat segment with hope spots at the right time. And then we get the big tag. Except in this case Martel doesn’t take the tag and walks out on his partner. Tito is easy pickings and gets pinned after a Spike Piledriver. Really good match and angle.
Rating: ***½. The Brainbusters were a treat.
Heel interview backstage with Rick Martel, who would become “The Model” as a heel.
Piper’s Pit with Morton Downey Jr. is next. Piper’s first appearance since Wrestlemania III. Downey was a pretty big star as a TV and radio shock jock. He always smoked during his show, so here he lights a cigarette and puffs smoke in Piper’s face. Piper gets a fire extinguisher and blasts him with it. Fun segment.
Gene Okerlund interviews Hogan. He’s ready for his big match.
Jake Roberts vs. Andre the Giant
Andre is absolutely terrified of snakes. Not much happens here until DiBiase and Virgil try to steal Damien, leading Jake to chase them up the aisle. In the ring, Andre gets into it with guest referee Big John Studd, leading to a DQ.
Rating: ½*. Andre didn’t have a whole lot left at this point.
The Hart Foundation vs. Rhythm N Blues
Rhythm N Blues was Honky Tonk Man and Greg Valentine. They’re managed by Jimmy Hart, the former manager of The Hart Foundation. Honky and Valentine spend most of the match working over Bret before he tags in Neidhart. Neidhart shows off his athleticism by hitting Dropkicks. Finish comes when Honky goes for Hart’s megaphone, but Neidhart gets it first and throws it to Bret, who levels Honky for the win.
Rating: **¼. Decent tag match.
Intercontinental Championship: Ultimate Warrior (c) vs. Rick Rude
Warrior’s been champion since destroying Honky Tonk Man in 30 seconds at Summerslam. Rude has Bobby Heenan in his corner, giving him a major advantage. Rude has his classic tights with the IC Title airbrushed on. Rude does a good job guiding Warrior through this match, although Warrior locks on multiple Bearhugs. Rude gets a Piledriver, and because he’s a smart wrestler protects the move by not covering right away because of his injured back. Warrior dominates, but Rude gets the win. Warrior goes for a Suplex off the apron and Heenan trips him. Rude falls on top for the pin.
Rating: **. They would do much better work in the future.
Jim Duggan vs. Bad News Brown
Nothing but a brawl here. At least the crowd is into it. Brown misses the Ghetto Blaster, avoids the Three Point Stance Clothesline, then gets a chair from outside. Duggan gets his 2X4 and we have a double disqualification in under four minutes. I just don’t really see the point of matches like this.
Rating: ½*. So much punching. Stupid finish too.
The Red Rooster vs. Bobby Heenan
Red Rooster is Terry Taylor with the worst gimmick ever. Taylor gets the pin in 30 seconds. Honestly, they probably could have had a good match if they’d let it have some time. Heenan was a damn good wrestler.
Rating: Dud. 30 seconds. At least Heenan got his comeuppance.
WWF Championship: Randy Savage (c) vs. Hulk Hogan
Savage enters first despite being the champion, which fits perfectly within the storyline. Elizabeth is out second. She’ll be standing in a neutral corner, not supporting either man. Hogan enters to the typical massive pop. Hogan controls Savage with superior power early, while Savage stalls and plays mind games. Savage even uses Elizabeth as a human shield on the outside at one point. Savage goes to the eyes to get the advantage and then levels Hogan with an Ax Handle from the top rope. Savage goes to work, wearing Hogan down with holds. Hogan escapes by dumping Savage to the floor and tunes him up in the ring. Hogan telegraphs a Back Drop and gets booted in the face. Savage goes to a Chin Lock as we see Hogan bleeding.
Hogan fights out of the hold and hits an Atomic Drop. But he misses an Elbow Drop and Savage gets a near pin on a School Boy while holding the tights. Savage gets cocky and smacks Hogan, which only serves to fire him up. Hogan fights back and Body Slams Savage over the top to the floor! Elizabeth goes to check on Savage and he shoves her away. Hogan comes to the floor and Savage goes right to the cut over Hogan’s eye. Hogan wants to run Savage into the ring post, but Elizabeth won’t allow it. That gives Savage time to slam Hogan into the post. Elizabeth checks on Hogan and helps him back into the ring. Savage confronts her again and berates her. Savage sends her back to the locker room. Savage levels Hogan and goes to the top rope for a big Ax Handle all the way to the floor.
Savage follows that with his signature jumping Clothesline and a Boss Man Straddle. Scoop Slam by Savage, then a Knee Drop. He only gets two, but Hogan is fading. Savage chokes Hogan with his wrist tape. Savage goes for the kill. He heads up to the top rope and hits the Flying Elbow! But Hogan Hulks Up and kicks out at one. Punches, Big Boot, Leg Drop. Hogan wins at 17:55.
Rating: ****. Damn good match, one of the best of Hogan’s career. I just wish Hogan had sold Savage’s finish better, or that Savage had protected it (don’t cover right away). It’s shocking Savage didn’t main event Wrestlemania again after this, but he stole the show at both VII and VIII.
Hogan poses down to end the show. As always, Jesse threatens to come out of retirement and take Hogan out.
So the status quo is restored and Hogan is champion again. His feud with Savage would continue throughout the year, and then on-and-off throughout the rest of both their careers. Their real feud spawned companies and decades, and unfortunately it seems to never have ended before Savage’s untimely death in 2011.
Overall: That was a pretty good Wrestlemania. Several good matches, and a bit less filler than the previous years. Main event was great, and a few of the tag matches were really good.