Hello folks, I’m back with the next step of our journey through WWE pay per view history and the next stop is one of the most pivotal events of all time. Wrestlemania 3. This show in my eyes was the peak of the Rock N Wrestling era featuring the culmination of some of the biggest rivalries in WWE history. It had the largest indoor attendance record of all time, a record that stood for a long long time. I have big expectations for this pay per view but what do we know going into it?
Well there are 12 matches on the card and 7 of them have been built up on episodes of Saturday Nights Main Event and Superstars. The main event is World Heavyweight Champion Hulk Hogan defending the belt he has had for over three years against his biggest (in more ways that one) opponent yet, old friend Andre The Giant. Andre turned heel and sided with Bobby Heenan recently and he wants the World title.
What else has happened since The Big Event over 7 months ago? Well The British Bulldogs lost their Tag Team titles to The Hart Foundation with no thanks to bent referee Danny Davis. Randy Savage is still Intercontinental champion and defends against the man he put out of action, Ricky Steamboat and Rowdy Roddy Piper returns to the WWE to take on Adrian Adonis in his farewell match.
So cue the cheesy jazz music, Vince McMahon welcoming us to Wrestlemania 3 and Aretha Franklin singing us America the Beautiful and to Gorilla Monsoon, Jesse “The Body” Ventura who will be calling the action tonight alongside Bob Uecker and Mary Hart.
The Can-Am Connection (Ric Martel & Tom Zenk) vs. “Cowboy” Bob Orton & The Magnificent Muraco
Well our opening contest is once again a tag team match. The new tag team of Martel and Zenk take on old schoolers Orton and Muraco with Mr Fuji in their corner. Both Muraco and Orton are looking for their first PPV victory and have joined forces, initially to help Adrian Adonis in his war with Roddy Piper but on this occasion to take on the Can-Am connection in a true battle of old school vs. new. The Can-Am (Canadian-Amercian) connection wear matching white trunks which I like because it makes them seem like a real tag team and not just two guys thrown together.
We’re treated to a quick start from Martel and Zenk who continue their lead into the mid part of the match using double team moves and quick impact maneuvers. At one point Muraco accidentally hits his tag team partner just to add to their problems. A heelish double team eventually gives Muraco and Orton the advantage, allowing them to slow the pace of the match. It isn’t long until Zenk makes the hot tag to Martel which leads to all four men getting involved. Orton gets knocked outside of the ring and Zenk lies on the floor behind Muraco as Martel flies at him with a cross body. He pins the veteran and gets the three count to mark their first victory on their ppv debut. A fun way to open the show with some great action in a classic battle between young babyfaces and veteran heels.
We now see a video package highlighting the rivalry between Billy Jack Haynes and Hercules. This is followed by an interview by Hercules and Heenan, oddly Hercules talks about himself as the actual Hercules who was around thousands of years ago. A bit odd but capped off with Heenans wise words for “Billy Jerk Haynes”. Jerk.
Billy Jack Haynes vs. Hercules
No entrance music for either of these guys as they travel down in the moving rings, Hercules accompanied by new manager Bobby Heenan, who paid a lot of money to Slick for Hercules contract. I wonder if that is the explanation for the dropping of “Hernandes” and his haircut. This is of course a rematch from The Big Event where Haynes got the win courtesy of a flukey backslide. The two men have been rivals in every company they’ve worked in so they’re certainly not strangers in the ring. This programme is centred around Hercules stealing Haynes’ finisher, The Full Nelson. Herc should be focusing more on getting his first PPV victory.
This match is the forth longest of the night so the two rivals are given plenty of time. It starts quite back and forth with neither man getting the advantage for long. Bobby Heenan takes the crowds attention as a “weasel” chant breaks out. Haynes impresses with a gorilla press slam on the big Hercules, no small feat there. I do like Billy Jacks look, he just looks like a superstar. Hercules gets the advantage back and slow the pace of the match. He uses some big power moves which has been the main feature of this match. Hercules is dominant for most of the match but Haynes manages to slip out of a full nelson attempt from Hercules.
A double clothesline takes both men down and when they get back up it is Billy Jack with the advantage. Interestingly, Haynes takes down Hercules, bounces off the ropes and hits him with a big legdrop. I wonder how Hogan felt about that. It’s Haynes’ turn now to lock in a full nelson but this time Hercules gets to the ropes and both men go flying to the outside. Billy Jack then locks in a full nelson outside of the ring and although Hercules can’t get out of it, the referee counts both men out. After the bell Haynes chases Heenan around the ring and is stopped by Hercules who busts Haynes open with his chains, something Haynes has claimed gave him Hepatitis C. In a comedy moment Hercules gets back in the moving ring and nearly fell out before shouting at the driver. An improvement on their match at The Big Event.
King Kong Bundy, Little Tokyo & Lord Littlebrook vs. Hillbilly Jim, Little Beaver & Haiti Kid
Well, we have our first pay per view midgets match. Mixed midget match, I guess. Haiti Kid is the recognisable midget as he was involved in the Roddy Piper/Mr T rivalry going into last years Wrestlemania. Hillbilly Jim comes out with his friends and they are the first wrestlers tonight to come out to entrance music.
The midgets start in the ring and they all look a little old. I think it’s because they are a little old. Hillbilly Jim sure is over as a face and it’s the faces that pile on top of each other to pin King Kong Bundy, but he kicks out. Little Beaver keeps taking shots at Bundy, we know that’s not going to end well. And it doesn’t as Bundy slams Beaver and drops an elbow on him causing a disqualification. Bundy then goes for a splash but all of the midgets including those on his team drag Beaver out of the way. Apparently the injuries Beaver received in this match caused him to retire. Albeit aged 52.
We go backstage for an interview that was supposed to be with Miss Elizabeth but Randy Savage doesn’t let her get a word in. We’re then treated to a package highlighting the rivalry between King Harley Race and Junkyard Dog. Race wanted Dog to bow to him after a match, JYD refused and was made to do it after a beatdown. Race is now accompanied by Bobby Heenan and Fabulous Moolah, the Queen of wrestling.
King Harley Race vs. Junkyard Dog – Loser must bow match
Bob Euker disappears to go see Fabulous Moolah at the beginning of this match. Race and co come out to what is now known as Jerry Lawlers music and interestingly Moolah is introduced as the Womens champion, which she is but never seems to defend it. Junkyard Dog comes out to his familiar entrance music and is the first man to have appeared on all of WWEs first five pay per view events. He gets a big ovation and is one of the wrestlers at the forefront of the Rock N Wrestling era.
The match gets underway and Heenan causes a distraction allowing Race to take the early advantage. Harley goes for a headbutt from the apron but JYD rolls out of the way causing the King to miss completely. It’s a slow start to the match and JYD has the advantage. Harley keeps getting chucked out of the ring which ruins the flow a bit. Keep it between the ropes! The match ends in less than three and a half minutes when JYD hits his trademark headbutts but gets distracted by Heenan. Junkyard then turns around and gets hit with a belly to belly suplex from Harley Race which is enough to get a three count. Although it did look like the Dog kicked out. The crowd boo but maybe that’s because the match just didn’t flow very well. JYD is forced into bowing to Race and after doing so he attacks the King with a chair and then scrapers with his robe. A short match which wasn’t memorable.
We get a backstage interview with Hulk Hogan and it’s a good one with some great intensity. His match with Andre later has been built perfectly, it should be a good one.
The Rougeaus (Jacques and Raymond) vs. The Dream Team (Brutus Beefcake & Greg Valentine)
Up next is the second rematch from The Big Event. Back in August it was The Rougeaus that picked up the victory, rather surprisingly and not without controversy but tonight The Dream Team can avenge their loss. The Dream Team not only have Johnny Valiant in their corner but are also accompanied by returning WWE superstar Dino Bravo. Greg Valentine comes out in a new robe, very nice. He hands it to one of the “Federates” outside the ring who is basically a girl at ringside who isn’t wearing a lot.
The Rougeaus start off quickly but not for long as The Dream Team soon take the advantage. Valentine locks in a figure four leg lock early on in the match but it’s broken up. We’re now joined on commentary by Bobby Heenan who is great as always. He claims victories for Bundy, Hercules and Race despite only Race winning his match. Back to the match and it’s back and forth between the two teams until Beefcake accidentally hits his partner Valentine. We then have a double team by The Rougeaus, Jacques fights off Beefcake and whilst the referee is distracted by them, Dino Bravo interferes helping Valentine to get the three count. Brutus Beefcake isn’t happy with how his team won though and Beefcake, Hart and Bravo leave without him. It seems as though we have just witnessed the end of the Dream Team!
Next up we see a package for Rowdy Roddy Piper and Adrian Adonis, a reckless feud between the two. We then have an interview with Piper which is short and sweet. That match is up next.
“Adorable” Adrian Adonis vs. “Rowdy” Roddy Piper – Hair vs. Hair match
No music for Adonis, which is odd considering this is a pretty big match. Adonis is joined by manager Hart. Piper walks out to the ring, electing to not get a lift in the handy driven ring. Piper sure is over as a face. And why wouldn’t he be? He’s awesome. This is actually Rowdy Roddy Pipers farewell match. He’s off to make films but will he ever return?! We’ll have to wait and see. He gets a standing ovation for this match in any case.
The match begins with Piper whipping Adonis with a belt he had stuffed down his tights. Adonis manages to get hold of the belt himself and then whips Piper with it. Adonis is massive now. Two years ago he was fairly trim but this is just embarrassing. Roddy throws Hart into Adonis and the two men go flying over the top rope. After Adonis gets back into the ring Hart gets throws across the ring again. Adrian does get the advantage though thanks to Jimmy Hart who trips up Piper. Adonis is dominant despite an eye poke from his opponent. Jimmy Hart is always there to help out his man, at one point spraying cologne into Rowdy Roddy Pipers eyes.
This gives Adonis chance to lock on “Sweet Irene” which is his name for his sleeper hold. Piper fades but Adonis thinks he’s won and breaks the hold. From nowhere Brutus Beefcake runs into the ring and revives Piper! Adonis grabs the clippers and attempts to hit Piper but missed and the clippers bounce off the ropes and hit him in the face. Piper then locks in his own sleeper for the win! Beefcake who is apparently Roddys new best man shaves Adonis’ head slowly. The trimmers aren’t very good and despite Beefcakes best efforts, they don’t do a lot. Piper celebrates and a fan gets in the ring and celebrates with him. Good luck with your future endeavors Rod.
Bob Eucker is back and gone is Jesse Ventura. That’s because “The Body” is down in the ring. God knows why, he gets introduced, walks about a bit and then The Fink moves on to introducing the next match.
Danny Davis & The Hart Foundation (Bret Hart & Jim Neidhart) vs. Tito Santana & The British Bulldogs (Davey Boy Smith & Dynamite Kid)
Six man tag up next which basically revolves around Danny Davis. He used to be a referee and not only did he help The Hart Foundation defeat The Bulldogs for the tag belts but Tito Santana still blames him for losing his Intercontinental title to Randy Savage. The Bulldogs arrive with their mascot an actual bulldog, Matilda. They clear the ring of Bret, Jim, Danny and manager Jimmy Hart. Jesse Ventura then takes it upon himself to take Matilda to the back. The Bulldogs and Santana start well, until The Hart Foundation (now in pink) take the advantage. It’s back and forth for a while and Mary Hart (no relation to Jimmy or Bret) isn’t actually as bad as some previous females on commentary.
The Harts are dominant for a while with Davis coming in sporadically for short bursts. Eventually Dynamite makes the hot tag to Santana which gets a great reaction from the crowd. Tito hits his flying forearm to Danny Davis who has now becomes the matches whipping boy. Davey Boy gets tagged back in and actually hits a tombstone piledriver to Danny. He then hits his trademark running powerslam but that gets broken up and we have a brawl between the 6 men. Amongst the brawl Davis hits Davey Boy with Jimmy Harts megaphone which is enough for the three count. Sadly that’s followed by the crowds “bullshit” chant. They came here to see the Bulldogs and Santana get some revenge. Fun 6 man tag.
Bobby Heenan is backstage giving a serious interview. Andre just stands there, not saying a word. More good build towards the main event.
“The Natural” Butch Reed vs. Koko B.Ware
Butch Reed and Koko make their PPV debuts on the grandest scale of them all. Reed is accompanied by “Doctor Of Style” Slick whilst Koko has his parrot, Frankie. Koko comes out to cool music. Piledriver. It’s quite catchy. Ventura is kind enough to jump back on commentary for this one. Butch Reed looks huge, he’s ripped too but his blonde hair is anything but “natural”. This one is a fairly back and forth match that ends with Koko B.Ware going for a cross body and Reed using his momentum to reverse it for the three count. After the match Koko tries to get some revenge but Slick attacks him with his cane causing Tito Santana to come out and help Koko clean house. A short match and the weakest of the night.
Cue a video package for Randy Savage and Ricky Steamboat, this one is going to be good.
“Macho Man” Randy Savage (c) vs. Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat – Intercontinental Title Match
Both men come out to their familiar entrance themes, Savage with Miss Elizabeth and Steamboat with friend George “The Animal” Steele. This one has a big fight feel, I love it. Savage first tries to keep Elizabeth away from Steele who is still in love with her. Remember, Savage and Steele fought at last years Wrestlemania, it’s nice to see some continuity. It’s a quick start in the ring with Steamboat hitting some of his awesome deep arm drags. It’s back and forth from there with the crowd thoroughly behind The Dragon, chanting his name. Savage soon takes control and man, Elizabeth looks smoking hot tonight.
Savage throws Steamboat over the ropes but Ricky holds on and skins the cat. Just to get chucked over properly the second time. Randy then knees the challenger over the top of the ringside barrier and into the crowd. George Steele helps his friend back up and into the ring though. Aw, that’s what friends are for. Savage has been dominant for the mid part of the match and hits his trademark double axe handle from the top to the outside. There are a lot of near falls, which I quite like, it shows how determined they are to win. Steamboat on the comeback now and the crowd go nuts. The two men fight on the outside a lot in this one. It’s Steamboats turn to get a lot of near falls and the crowd think he wins a couple of times and pop. But not yet folks.
Savage rams Steamboat into the referee taking out the man in the middle. He then goes up top and hits his big elbow on Steamboat but the referee is out. Savage then gets the ring bell, the weapon that took Ricky out of action. The Animal grabs it off him though and then throws him into the ring! Randy gets back up but Ricky rolls him up for the 1,2,3. Wow, what a match. The crowd go crazy for Steamboat winning the title after Savages year long plus reign. Rubbish gets thrown at the ex champion on his way out and applaud the new champion. Great match, genuinely one of the best of all time and way ahead of its time in 1987. Probably worth mentioning that it’s given my highest ranking of any match so far.
Rating: 8.5/10* Match Of The Night
We go backstage to Jake “The Snake” Roberts who is joined by Alice Cooper. Roberts is now a face and there’s clearly a Heavy Metal vs. Rhythm & Blues element to the next match.
Jake “The Snake” Roberts vs. Honky Tonk Man
Jake is now a face whilst Honky, despite debuting as a face is now a heel and he has Jimmy Hart as his manager. Honky comes out to some entrance music that I’ve never heard before whilst Roberts comes out to silence which works for him. Roberts attacks Honky before the bell, stripping him of his faux Elvis costume. Most of the beginning of this match is outside of the ring and I’m not sure how the referee avoided counting either guy out. The match from there is pretty back and forth. Alice Cooper is on hand to help out Jake.
Honky is dominant for a while, he goes for his finisher; the “Shake, Rattle and Roll” but Roberts manages to get out of it. Roberts goes for his DDT but Honky Tonk escapes that one. Jake once again goes for the DDT but Jimmy grabs his leg causing a distraction. Honky then schoolboys Roberts and gets the three count, mainly in part due to the fact he was holding on to the rope. After the match Jake tried to hit his opponent with his own guitar but Honky ducks it and the guitar smashes into the ring post. Hart isn’t so lucky though as Roberts holds him whilst Alice Cooper drapes the snake all over him. A big win for Honky though and one Roberts will want to forget.
Mene Gene out next to inform us that the attendance tonight is 93,173 which smashes all previous records. Wow. That’s a lot of people.
Iron Sheik & Nikolai Volkoff vs. The Killer Bees (B Brian Blair & Jumping Jim Brunzell)
Our fifth tag team match of the night is between the former tag champs and up and an exciting up and coming team. Slick is out with Volkoff and Sheik and his shirt is still torn from earlier in the night courtesy of Santana. Volkoff attempts to treat us to his rendition of the Soviet national anthem but he’s interrupted by “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan of all people! He cleans house and tells the world that he is going to make it his mission in life to make sure that Volkoff never sings the Soviet national anthem again. Hoooooooooooo. And out come the Bees. Pearl harbour job from Sheik and Volkoff who I wish had a more catchy tag name so I wouldn’t have to keep typing both their individual names.
The Bees start quick but the crowd seem more interested in chanting “Hoooooo” with Duggan. Lots of quick tags from the Bees and lots of trash in the ring from Volkoffs singing. The heels eventually take the advantage and I’d just like to point out how cool Iron Sheiks shorts are. He’s the former World Champion you know. The referee misses the Bees tag which allows Volkoff and Sheik to do some more double teaming. The Sheik then locks in a camel clutch but it’s Jim Duggan that breaks it up with his trusty 2×4 causing a disqualification! Big win for Sheik and Volkoff who haven’t won a PPV match since the first Wrestlemania!
Interview with Andre the Giant who sounds like Razor Ramon. Then a package to hype the main event, which is up next!
Hulk Hogan (c) vs. Andre The Giant – World Heavyweight Title Match
Main event time! Bob Eucker is in the ring now as special guest ring announcer and Mary Hart is special guest time keeper. A match between former best friends. A huge heel turn for Andre who is now managed by the man he used to hate, Bobby Heenan. Arguably the biggest main event of all time and certainly the biggest match event up until now.
Andre’s ring announcement is the one we’ve all heard in the WWE signature which ran for years. Hulkamania is at its peak at this point, the crowd are on their feet for his entrance. Ventura knows both mens measurements. As the two men slowly walk towards each other we hear Gorillas famous words echo “The Irresistible force meets The Unmovable object”. They have an awesome step down with Hogan talking smack but neither men flinching. Hogan was apparently very nervous for this one, you wouldn’t know it though. Hulk goes straight for a powerslam but lands flat on his back and nearly loses there and then. This gives Andre the early advantage.
Hulk attempts a comeback a couple of times but to no avail, Andre is just too powerful for him. The Giant then locks in a bearhug that seems to last for ever. Hogan gets out of it and the comeback is on. The crowd are right behind Hogan but Andre takes back the advantage. Both men go out of the ring and we see how much trash is outside the ring! Hogan goes for a piledriver but Andre reverses it into a pretty pathetic looking back body drop. Back in the ring Hulk knocks down his opponent and then Hulks up. Game time. He powerslams Andre and then hits the big legdrop for the win. What a slam! Hogan retains his title, again, and ends the night celebrating in the ring like only Hogan does. A great match with great build.
Well that was it folks, the third installment of Wrestlemania and WWE’s 5th PPV. It had a lot of tag matches which got a lot of guys on the card. A few were missing, guys like Orndorff, Haku and Studd but the show was a good one. The big stories coming out of it were Hogan and Steamboats wins whilst Piper wrestled his “last match” and Brutus Beefcake left The Dream Team, turning face in the process. The two title matches will go down in WWE folk law and the Steamboat/Savage match was the one everyone will talk about for years to come.
Overall Rating: 47/100 (Ranked #1 of 5)