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Dolfan in NYC

Dolfan Watches Every Wrestlemania On Lockdown

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DAY 6

Shorter ride today I did an hour the previous day and I was doing some Zoom calls in the afternoon.  

Johnny Valiant was one of those guys who was all over TV in those days, but it's weird how he'd probably be fifth out of five in terms of heel managers of the 80s (6th if you count Elizabeth).  (My rankings would probably be Heenan, Hart, Fuji, Slick, and Valiant, in that order.) But he is definitely good at his job and keeps all the heat on his boys in the ring. 

So as you may have guessed we're at the Dream Team and Rogeaus.  I will definitely say, it always puts a smile on my face to see Raymond doing the French commentary when they do the 85 language table intros at the PPV's.  It's also crazy to see the ridiculously puffed up Dino Bravo.  I mean, it's like comical to see how roided to the gills this guy is.  Anyway, as last year, the match is built around Valentine doing the heavy lifting for everyone, and the eventual face turn for Beefcake. 

And it's the rarely seen (these days), "my heel partner fucked up so the rest of us are kicking him out of the club" face turn.  This is definitely an angle that needs to be redone as I honestly cannot recall when it was last done.  Buddy Murphy is a prime candidate for this, btw!

 

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Piper gets the first true megapop of the evening as the Hair vs Hair (and Piper's Farewell) match was next.  Detroit sure loved Piper.  And boy howdy did they HATE Adonis (though unless Vince got very good sound mixers, the Michiganders in attendance (Hi @Craig H !) didn't chant you know what at him).  They had a very fun match, if way too short at 6-7 minutes.  And this definitely falls into the "Wrong Guy Goes Over" match list -- though Adonis leaving WWF shortly after this match definitely justifies Piper winning. 

They clearly did not consult with any barbers beforehand because the subsequent head shaving is... underwhelming.  Vince definitely got it right 20 years later.  

The Hart Foundation/Danny Davis vs. The Bulldogs/Tito Santana are up to bat next.  I'm a sucker for the evil referee gimmick.  (So is @Lawful Metal.  If you don't believe me, go read the entire NBA folder!) Davis is such a total sleazeball, it's fantastic. I remember being a kid watching this (more on that in a sec) and being SHOCKED that Davis and the Harts went over.  Even watching this today, I was genuinely surprised. That's a good fucking angle right there. 

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Last match of the ride was The Natural Butch Reed and Koko B. Ware.  Two thoughts about this:  First, this is a match where it feels like most of the participants are dead. As I was watching, I thought to myself, I'll bet the only surviving member of this match is Frankie the parrot.  But, thankfully, I was wrong about that. In fact, the only one that's dead IS Frankie!  (He died in a house fire back around 2001.) 

Second, so I may have told this story before.  But growing up in Miami, you'd have to go to the James L. Knight Center in order to see the closed circuit show of the Manias.  However, when my dad and I got there, we were running a little bit late. We got to the box office and I saw the words that made my heart sink.... SOLD OUT.   No scalpers around.... No way to negotiate to get in...  We were going to have to go home. So my dad's consoling me as we're walking back to the car, but I notice a group forming around this van near the garage.  I get a little closer and see people reacting, and hear Gorilla Monsoon's voice... and it turns out there are about 25-30 people gathered around the transmission truck, the guy in charge had just put out a TV and put on the sound so everyone there could hear it.  So I got to watch the entire show for free, with some of the rowdiest people.  It was awesome and one of the best memories of growing up as a wrestling fan.

Anyway, the memory that's burnt clear as crystal for me, was when Slick got beat up after the match ended were these two 20-something black guys next to me laughing their god damned heads off and gleefully shouting: "THAT ***** LOOK LIKE A CRICKET!"  They (and I) couldn't stop laughing for what seemed like an eternity.  

God, that fucking ruled. 

(Here ends Day 6.)

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1 minute ago, Dolfan in NYC said:

Last match of the ride was The Natural Butch Reed and Koko B. Ware.  Two thoughts about this:  First, this is a match where it feels like most of the participants are dead. As I was watching, I thought to myself, I'll bet the only surviving member of this match is Frankie the parrot.  But, thankfully, I was wrong about that. In fact, the only one that's dead IS Frankie!  (He died in a house fire back around 2001.) 

Wait, what?

TBH Koko and Butch look pretty decent for their ages (and don't give me the black don't crack thing because certain black celebs disprove some of that). Now juxtapose this with me watching KotR 96 the other night, and I'm still convinced Jake Roberts might be dead despite seeing him on TV every Wednesday now.  There are seven people that are currently deceased on that show (Candido, Vader, Warrior, Bearer, Lothario, DBS, and Owen who did commentary and a run-in in the main). Marty Jannetty, Sunny, and Jake Roberts? STILL HERE. Don't judge a book by its cover.

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50 minutes ago, Dolfan in NYC said:

Piper gets the first true megapop of the evening as the Hair vs Hair (and Piper's Farewell) match was next.  Detroit sure loved Piper.  And boy howdy did they HATE Adonis (though unless Vince got very good sound mixers, the Michiganders in attendance (Hi @Brian Fowler!) didn't chant you know what at him).  They had a very fun match, if way too short at 6-7 minutes.  And this definitely falls into the "Wrong Guy Goes Over" match list -- though Adonis leaving WWF shortly after this match definitely justifies Piper winning. 

They clearly did not consult with any barbers beforehand because the subsequent head shaving is... underwhelming.  Vince definitely got it right 20 years later.  

The Hart Foundation/Danny Davis vs. The Bulldogs/Tito Santana are up to bat next.  I'm a sucker for the evil referee gimmick.  (So is @Lawful Metal.  If you don't believe me, go read the entire NBA folder!) Davis is such a total sleazeball, it's fantastic. I remember being a kid watching this (more on that in a sec) and being SHOCKED that Davis and the Harts went over.  Even watching this today, I was genuinely surprised. That's a good fucking angle right there. 

So you admit it!  Scott Foster and Tony Brothers are in fact Danny Davis and Nick Patrick!  I knew it!

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I love the Trump Plaza Manias and WrestleMania VI-VIII.  I feel they are among the easiest to watch.  Yes,  there's a lot of random ass matches but there's some gems in there and the commentary is A+ 

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On 3/26/2020 at 2:58 PM, Dolfan in NYC said:

So, Brutus Beefcake vs. David Sammartino.  

This is an odd, but pre-Hogan-80's WWF defining match.  They are clearly trying to build David up as he's the first one given a true ring entrance, even though, the crowd is absolutely there to cheer for his dad, and not him.  Vince is praising Beefcake a LOT, so they clearly have plans for him.  Brutus is still in that pre-barber/pre-Dream Team phase where he's just a guy... it's just weird to see that with 2020 eyes.  

Tons and tons of pieces have been written about David and what he should have been.  He's a very handsome guy, who can't cut a promo, but seemed okay in the ring?  In the mid-80's, that's enough to get your foot in the door. But you can already tell, New York was merely tolerating him because they loved his dad.  

The match itself was fine, even if it went about 12 minutes or so and ended in a Double-DQ.  And without looking, I'm going to go ahead and guess this was to set up a tag match with Brutus/Valiant and the Sammartinos at the next MSG house show.  

And ultimately, before the final 5 matches of this show, that's what Wrestlemania really was.  A standard MSG house show.  It's amazing, that from here is where we got things like Shawn Michaels zip lining to the ring to Rusev entering in a tank to well, everything...   

This is where my first day's ride ended. 

My mom took me, my little sister, and two of my buddies to watch Mania 1 on closed circuit at the Philly Spectrum. I was 14. Mom brought her needlepoint and Cosmo to read. She wasn't paying attention until Bruno appeared. Then when Bruno ran in, the Spectrum went nuts. I looked over at my Mom and she dropped her needlepoint and was jumping up and down cheering for Bruno. She grew up in the 60's and Bruno was a hero. It's one of my favorite wrestling memories.

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7 hours ago, Elsalvajeloco said:

Wait, what?

TBH Koko and Butch look pretty decent for their ages (and don't give me the black don't crack thing because certain black celebs disprove some of that). Now juxtapose this with me watching KotR 96 the other night, and I'm still convinced Jake Roberts might be dead despite seeing him on TV every Wednesday now.  There are seven people that are currently deceased on that show (Candido, Vader, Warrior, Bearer, Lothario, DBS, and Owen who did commentary and a run-in in the main). Marty Jannetty, Sunny, and Jake Roberts? STILL HERE. Don't judge a book by its cover.

Wasn't Hennig the special refereree for the main event as well? (at least that's what he was announced to do, in the end, he just ended up staying outside the ring while Earl Hebner or Tim White or whoever was the real referee)

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Posted (edited)
6 minutes ago, Robert s said:

Wasn't Hennig the special refereree for the main event as well? (at least that's what he was announced to do, in the end, he just ended up staying outside the ring while Earl Hebner or Tim White or whoever was the real referee)

Yep. Also, thinking about it, it would be at least nine cause Gorilla was the one to make the announcement that Perfect had to be the outside ref while Hebner was inside the ring ref due to a conflict of interest (Perfect dressed in the same locker room as Camp Cornette).

Edited by Elsalvajeloco

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Dolfan, I rally am digging these and you are doing a great job but I fear for your sanity in the near future, my friend. The 45 minute chunks is a fresh way to do it. I love reading people's show reviews (live or taped) where they talk about their reactions to the card and matches, and put it in context, rather than a play by play or smark flexing.

Here's a WM story: (about 12 years ago) New owners at a club I used to asst. manage, and and upon being introduced to the new boss (younger than me) he's giving me the chest puffery, friendly but ???, a very -ummm- "guido"/paizan kinda thing. No preamble, he gets right up and says "I've been to the past 8 WrestleManias, I own every one on DVD and I get tickets for every RAW, SmackDown and PPV in the region. (...more markish braggadocio here...) How many WrestleManias have you been to?" 

younger RAF, thinking that this turkeyneck just cut a promo on me but I need this job and aware of all the folks watching us now :"Aaaw, man, I've just went to one WrestleMania... (...long pause, less is more...) --- THE FIRST ONE."

We got on great after that.

true story,

RAF

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Note to past self, when you had this stupid idea you didn't tell me that you'd have to look at... him... For 3+ hours.

More on this tomorrow.

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DAY 7

Savage/Steamboat. Just the words are enough to give every wrestling fan of a certain age, chills.  I stopped Mania  on Day 6 a little early because they started the hype for this match and I wanted to give it my full attention, especially since I was running low on time and didn't want to split it across two days.  

First thing's first.  The match 100% holds up as an all-time classic.  I remember getting into an argument about whether or not this match was the greatest ever, or if Flair-Steamboat from the next year was with my best friend from junior high.  I was a WWF kid and he was NWA. I won't even begin to debate that again but everyone played their roles to perfection here. Even Elizabeth being scared of Animal Steele on the outside, which caused Macho to get *JUST* distracted enough for him to make a critical mistake and cost himself the match and the IC title. Still absolutely amazing.  

Also, the overdub of Alan Parsons' "Sirius" as Ricky Steamboat's music is criminal. 

(Oh, and back to 1987 Dolfan standing outside the JLK Center watching with for free with the crowd of degenerates... when Hebner hit the three, everyone lost their damned minds.  I was convinced Steamboat was about to be Intercontinental Champion for the rest of the 1980s, and eventually WWF Champion.  C'est la vie.)

And I did love this story Ricky told about the after party.

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So, to wrap up Mania 3...

Vince clearly knew he had two nuclear bombs in Savage/Steamboat and Hogan/Andre, so the definition of cooler matches happen next. 

Jake Roberts taking (I think) his first WWF singles loss to the Honky Tonk Man.  Who I'm sure was signed as a Fuck You to Jerry Lawler.  And who entered into a hyper push almost by accident after taking the IC title from Steamboat and pissing off the entire planet for a year as champ.  And hey, Alice Cooper!  

And The Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff beating the Killer Bees as Hacksaw Jim Duggan blatantly cost the Bees the match. At first the B's were like, WTF, and Duggan starts chanting USA, USA, and they're suddenly cool with losing at Mania.  They *really* should have turned on him here, but instead just smiled like idiots as they left.  

And now the main event, Andre vs. Hogan.  This match is absolutely a testament to Vince's ability to book out a long term feud that made sense, had a ton of moving parts, worked around everyone's strengths and limitations, and delivered the ending everyone needed and deserved.  

I don't know how much stock to put in anything Hulk says these days, but I'll take him somewhat at his word that he didn't know going in if Andre was going to shoot on him and make himself champion.  But what was clear was Andre was no longer 100% (and never would be again) and there were clearly planned spots that Andre simply couldn't do any more.  (The back body drop on the outside being the most egregious of them. 

Overall, this truly felt like the first Mania where you can see Vince's true ambition and see how this show became what it is today.  (Well, not today, but in 2019... and will be again, fingers crossed, in 2021.)

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WRESTLEMANIA IV

So, yeah, the Trump Plaza in Atlantic City. Fun fact, 2 weeks ago, Atlantic City declared the building a public safety hazard because it's been closed and abandoned for 6 years now, and part of the facade are falling off the building and a few pieces have come close to hitting the boardwalk below.  Once this COVID stuff has passed, be sure to keep an eye on that story because... lol.  Also, though it's branded as Trump Plaza, it's actually across the street at the AC Convention Center.

Speaking of things that should have been abandoned 6 years ago... yes, I mentioned the future President of the United States is sitting front row center with his overcoiffed hair and his too long tie.  Sitting next to him is his then wife Ivana, a guy with a horrific jet black wig who I think is the president of the Trump Organization.  Anyway, I should note how disinterested he is in the majority of what's happening but clearly pleased (or bemused, I can't tell) that he's helped put on this show.  

That's all I'll say about him.  

---

Before THE TOURNAMENT~ we get the first ever "Let's get everyone who isn't in a feud onto the card" Battle Royale.  20 men, over the top rope rules.  It's only interesting for 2 reasons.  First is George Steele never actually getting into the match, at any time.  Gorilla is *insistent* that he went in and got eliminated quickly, but Jesse correctly points out that was never the case. I honestly do not know why he was out there aside from one comedy spot. 

And second, is Bad News Brown winning and Bret Hart's subsequent face turn and the ignition on his ascension up the card as a solo act.  BNB is Stone Cold Steve Austin. It is frighteningly uncanny.  Same mannerisms, same movement.  I really hope Steve bought him a beer or two, or a car, or house, or something... because... God damn.   Bret is beginning to show flashes of brilliance, and of course within 5 years, would be world champ.  Had he not had a falling out with the WWF, Brown absolutely should have been on that level too.  Shame he's gone.  

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The best part about Trump at IV is that one of the guys sitting with him is a John Gotti associate who he swore he didn’t know.  

 

 

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Alright, let's wrap up Day 7's ride:  

It's THE TOURNAMENT~! 

Quick story, after The Main Event match with the reveal that Dave Hebner's evil twin had screwed Hogan out of the title, I... being 11, and not knowing what to do with my emotions (since I already hated Hogan) called a Miami sports radio show and started yelling about what had just happened.  I don't think I'd ever heard a more disappointed adult in my life when I told them that Andre had just handed the belt over to the Million Dollar Man.  Whoever the co-host was knew exactly what I was talking about, but the host was *very* serious sports are serious.  So I embarrassed myself, or maybe he did.  Eh.  

Now, it's a 14 man tournament after the belt was held up after Andre's surrender of the title was not recognized.  Hogan-Andre got a bye in the first round and were set to fight in the second round. We begin the first of the 6(!) first round matches.

Ted DiBiase gets Jim Duggan in the first round. I can't imagine these two hooked up before they got to WWF, because they have no chemistry together in the ring. I'm putting most of the blame of that on Duggan though because DiBiase was unstoppable at this point.   

Don Muraco was in his "The Rock" phase at his point, and it's fucking distracting to keep hearing that name and not see Duane Johnson. And here's Superstar Billy Graham in one of his "I don't currently hate Vince" appearances. Anyway, he beats Dino Bravo in a Free Year of Steroids to the Winner match. 

Here ends Day 7. 

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Posted (edited)
23 minutes ago, Dolfan in NYC said:

Ted DiBiase gets Jim Duggan in the first round. I can't imagine these two hooked up before they got to WWF, because they have no chemistry together in the ring. I'm putting most of the blame of that on Duggan though because DiBiase was unstoppable at this point.   

I sincerely hope you are being sarcastic. Or maybe I'm misreading because surely you have to know about their Mid South history and are just saying "I can't believe this sucked". 

Edited by Curt McGirt
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22 minutes ago, Dolfan in NYC said:

Ted DiBiase gets Jim Duggan in the first round. I can't imagine these two hooked up before they got to WWF, because they have no chemistry together in the ring. I'

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For the record, while I didn't like the match, the above sentences are why you shouldn't post when you're high.  

Yes, I'm aware of their history.  My sarcasm didn't come across at all, so I RuPaulogize for that.

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Posted (edited)

That Rude Vs. Jake match you’re going to get to is the most boring wrestling match in Wrestlemania history up to that point. I have no idea why you’d wrestle to a draw in the driest way possible. And they were in a blood feud.

Edited by LoneWolf&Subs

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2 hours ago, LoneWolf&Subs said:

That Rude Vs. Jake match you’re going to get to is the most boring wrestling match in Wrestlemania history up to that point. I have no idea why you’d wrestle to a draw in the driest way possible. And they were in a blood feud.

Just to clarify, the feud proper didnt start on TV until a few weeks after Mania IV. 

But yes, one of the most disappointing matches ever. I am guessing both guys got told the 15-minute draw finish and basically realized neither one of them were getting over that night so they dogged the shit out of it. 

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DAY 8

So when my friends and I were picking who we thought would win the tournament, I thought Ricky Steamboat was ready to win it all. And that he'd face Jake the Snake in the finals.  My buddy thought it was going to be Savage/Jake in the finals, with Savage winning.  

Greg Valentine was my shocking intro into reality.  I'm pretty sure Steamboat was on his way out at this point as somehow he's allowed to bring future "Future WWE Champion" Richie Steamboat to the ring with him.  I honestly don't remember, but wasn't Richie one of the guys that DeMott bullied so much he quit?  Anyway, Valentine wins here, and I remember being so god damned pissed about it I had to pace around my house for a while.  

Savage and Butch Reed are on next.  The quickness of this match makes me think of how much better they could have been given more than 5 minutes.  I still wonder to this day why Reed was given the Natural gimmick. (Yes, I know this was meant to be a swipe at Ric Flair and the NWA.  But was this a comment on racism in the NWA?  Was it racist itself?  Why is Slick dressing in such neutral colors when he's got a pimp vibe? And WHY is "Jive Soul Bro" dubbed over?)

Note, this was probably filmed in Bridgeport, CT (note the 203 area code at the end).  And fun fact, Bridgeport still looks like that to this day! 😄

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We're at One Man Gang and Bam Bam Bigelow now.  I'll let you guys in on a bit of gay bear culture.  There's a party that's been happening since the 1970's on the Saturday after Thanksgiving in Asbury Park for guys who are into bears/leather culture.  It's called Santa Saturday.  Both Bammer and OMG (and very much Oliver Humperdink) look like they'd fit in comfortably.  (Again, especially Humperdink.)

And now we're onto the infamous Roberts/Rude match.  Both guys were clearly at half-speed for the duration of this match.  No, like half of half speed.  The match goes the full 15 minutes to the draw as at least 6-7 of those were Rude headlocking Jake.  It's honestly baffling booking.  Both guys are super talented, Roberts is hyper-over with the 1988 crowd, Rude a little less so, but still loads of heat.  And slowly but surely, they just lose the crowd completely until the "Boring" chants are in full effect.  Such an odd match.  

And that wraps the first round.  

Hercules is sent up next to job for the new signee, some dude named Warrior?  Eh. Whatever, probably a flash in the pan. 

Okerlund and Vanna White go over the first round and show us the bracket for the first time in this PPV (unless they cut it from the original broadcast), and now it's clear that we missed out on Savage-Steamboat II and Hogan putting over DiBiase (lol). 

And that's a wrap for Day 8. 

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27 minutes ago, Dolfan in NYC said:

Greg Valentine was my shocking intro into reality.  I'm pretty sure Steamboat was on his way out at this point as somehow he's allowed to bring future "Future WWE Champion" Richie Steamboat to the ring with him.  I honestly don't remember, but wasn't Richie one of the guys that DeMott bullied so much he quit?  Anyway, Valentine wins here, and I remember being so god damned pissed about it I had to pace around my house for a while. 

Richie had an back injury that turned out to be career-ending. I don't remember the exact details, but there was some hush-hush about the whole incident, that basically guarantees that Richie has a WWE-income for life. Either the injury itself was some coach fucking up or the injury was completely mistreated, I think the latter.

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