Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Ramblemania Rewind 05 - WWF Wrestlemania V (1989)

April 2nd, 1989
Trump Plaza (a.k.a. Boardwalk Hall), Atlantic City, NJ
Attendance: 18,946

(Note: The following post was written prior to the McMahon lawsuit from January 2024.)

Here's a rarity; Trump Plaza played host to Wrestlemania for the second year in a row, having hosted Wrestlemania IV and the WWF Championship tournament that saw Randy 'Macho Man' Savage winning his first World title. While there have been venues who would play two-time hosts to the event, there hasn't been another occurrence of the venue playing BACK-TO-BACK hosts. Whether this was by design or purely coincidental booking on their part, I can't help but sense a touch of irony that Randy Savage would return to the building where he won the championship, only to walk out empty-handed and lose the title to his rival, Hulk Hogan. I suppose this is the WWF's subtle way of wiping the stench of 'Mania IV's abysmal tournament from the year prior, including the guy who won it. Not to worry, though. Macho stuck around for a bit. No biggie.

Sadly, in an attempt to replace Mania IV's abysmal stench, Wrestlemania V ended up stinking up the joint far worse than that show could ever hope to achieve.

Back in my original Ramblemania post from 2012, I noted that I wasn't too fond of the show. It was a show with very few highlights - mostly any match that involved a championship at stake. I had accused this show of stuffing as much crap as possible to fill a four-hour runtime. A runtime, mind you, that was justified the previous year because you had the big WWF title tourney. As much of a chore as that was, it was a legitimate excuse for expecting fans to sit through a four-hour sloth... but this show?

Yeah, I'm showing my hand a little early, aren't I?


Hercules pinned King Haku in a pretty sad hoss fight. Oh, don't get me wrong. Both guys were absolute beasts and this was a classic case of two big fuckers beating the fuck out of each other - hell, this is the sort of thing that Hercules was best at... but this crowd really doesn't give a shit. They're just waiting for the big stars to come along and are just being polite with their mild reactions. This is going to be a recurring theme all throughout the show and it's one of the major killers of an otherwise placid show.

The Twin Towers (Akeem and Big Bossman) defeated The Rockers (Marty Jannetty and Shawn Michaels) in a tag match that saw the former One Man Gang - repackaged as a jivin' African named Akeem - pinning the probably wasted Shawn Michaels, who'd go on to have the more prolific Wrestlemania record of the four. It was a match.

The match between Brutus Beefcake and Ted DiBiase ended in a double-countout when Virgil offered a distraction that caused Brutus to chase after the Soul Man and then DiBiase would join in the fray and the match was counted out. Lame finish to a lame match with a lame crowd. This is death.

Bushwhackers (Butch Miller and Luke Williams) defeated The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers in a thing that happened. Apparently, I need to watch more Sheepherder matches because I'm told they were much better than the goofballs they portrayed here. And you know what the really sad thing is? A typical WWF crowd would probably eat this up and the whole thing would turn out better for it. This crowd, on the other hand? Fuck.

Mr. Perfect pinned The Blue Blazer in a short but perfectly acceptable wrestling match. This is followed by Jesse Ventura posing for... some reason. He did this a couple times before and I never understood what the point of this was. Was he pining for a comeback? Was he going after Hogan or something?

WWF Tag-Team Champions Demolition (Ax and Smash) defeated The Powers of Pain (Warlord and Barbarian) and Mr. Fuji (8:20) in a handicap match... although when the third man is Mr. Fuji, who's really being handicapped here? All joking aside,  this was lots of punching and kicking and the crowd not giving a shit until Ax finally pins Fuji... and apparently, this was for the tag titles.

Dino Bravo pinned Ronnie Garvin. Nobody gives a shit. Next.

The Brain Busters (Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard) defeated Strike Force (Tito Santana and Rick Martel) in a fun little tag match that is hampered by an otherwise... I'm hesitant to call this a dead crowd because even a dead crowd would be livelier than this group of mannequins. Absolutely horrid.

After that match, we get the whole business with Roddy Piper, Brother Love, and shock talk host guy Morton Downey Jr., who continually smokes despite Piper's pleas to stop and gets fire extinguished for his trouble. I suppose this was funny to someone out there, somewhere and truth be told, I probably found this funny when I was watching this in clip form on that Best of Wrestlemania tape I bought ages ago, but watching the full thing play out... my reaction is about as lifeless as that of this crowd.

We get a trailer for Hulk Hogan's cinematic masterpiece No Holds Barred... and then Sean Mooney gets a few words from Donald Trump... because, you know, he owns the place or something.

Jake Roberts defeated Andre the Giant via DQ when Andre attacked special ref Big John Studd, who called for the bell. Well, I'll say this for Studd; as far as special refs go, he's more willing to follow the rules than most. Jake then unleashes the snake on Andre... the actual snake, not his... fuck me, this show sucks.

The Hart Foundation (Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart) defeated Honkytonk Man and Greg Valentine in a fun match... but this fucking crowd....

"Ravishing" Rick Rude defeated Intertcontinental Champion Ultimate Warrior with an assist from Bobby Heenan (who was holding Warrior's foot to keep him from kicking out without the ref noticing) to win the title to the shock of the crowd, who actually seemed into this match almost. For context, Warrior had ended Honky Tonk Man's long IC title reign at Summerslam the previous year and basically did nothing but steamroll through guys until he ran into Rick Rude, who not only beat him, but also gave Warrior his best match up to that point. Rude and Warrior would continue to feud for quite a while and I actually enjoyed their Summerslam '90 match more than this, but give Rude credit for waking this zombie crowd up. That takes talent.

Next couple matches didn't last long. Jim Duggan and Bad News Brown brought in weapons (2x4 for Duggan and chair for Bad News), resulting in a Double-DQ finish to a short match. And then Red Rooster pinned Bobby Heenan in an even shorter match... nobody cared.

Hulk Hogan defeated WWF Champion "Macho Man" Randy Savage to win the title in the main event. It was the Hulk Hogan main event that saw Macho get his stuff in between Hogan "hulked up" and got his win and his title back. Part of me wondered if maybe they should've kept the title on Savage and built the rematch towards Summerslam in an arena with a crowd that wasn't totally brain dead... but it's Wrestlemania and we can't have a Wrestlemania end with the heel on top.

Yeah, there's no two bones about it. This show sucked tremendously and if it weren't for the two title matches (Rude/Warrior and Hogan/Savage) being better than they have any business being, I would've considered this one of the worst Manias of all time. A good part of the fault lies in the crowd simply not giving a shit about anything going on and if you have a crowd that doesn't give a shit, it makes your show look bad no matter how good the matches are. Had this been held in a different setting, it might've worked out, but it wasn't, so it didn't, and the show sucks because of it. Oh well...

Yeah, this show sucked. I was less kind to this show in

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