This was the Wrestlemania where I actually first started to care about the WWF. Everything I’ve reviewed, up until this moment, was a Wrestlemania I didn’t watch live and had actually seen once or twice.
I had been following the WWF from SummerSlam 1990 and didn’t stop until shortly after Lex Luger became a face and faced Yokozuna.
The first PPV event was bought for me and my brother by my Mom. It was the Royal Rumble in 1991 and we invited two of my friends over to watch it.
A lot was going on back then.
In August of 1990, we were getting in deep with Iraq over their invasion of Kuwait. In January of 1991, I, like many of my schoolmates, came to class to find out that we had started bombing the living shit out of Iraq for atrocities committed against Kuwait. I went home that day and turned on CNN to witness, for the first time, continuous coverage of the war. I had never seen anything like it. There was a lot of patriotism, a lot of yellow ribbons, a lot of feeling that we were actually doing the right thing…and, in my opinion, we really did.
Of course, this played right into the hands of many a businessman…and Vince McMahon was one of them.
In the late 1990’s, Sgt. Slaughter returned to the WWF with a new and very SURPRISING gimmick: he was now sympathizing with Saddam Hussein, who he claimed to be good friends with. He wore an Iraqi uniform complete with flag patch and beret. He claimed that, by accepting Nikolai Volkoff as American, the WWF and the country had gone soft. He enlisted the services of “General Adnan”, a real-life Iraqi and actual former friend of Saddam Hussein, as his manager.
Adnan Al-Kaissie, in real life, had actually been classmates with Hussein and, when he became a pro-wrestler, brought it to Baghdad to share with the Middle East. Hussein welcomed this and sanctioned a bunch of matches. Hussein, however, was getting paranoid of outside competitors and was not friendly toward the West. When Hussein started to get threatening towards friends of the West, Kaissie feared for his life. He was an American citizen and a friend to the United States. As such, he fled Iraq to go back to the United States, leaving his friends and family behind.
Even The Iron Sheik got into the act and joined Slaughter and Adnan, which I never really bought. He was the same dude, only with Iraqi clothing. Every single time I saw him, I was like, “Isn’t that Iron Sheik?”
|Either that, or a confused Frenchman.|
Anyhow, he was rebranded “Colonel Mustafa” which, to me, just lacked any sort of creativity. But, I guess “Colonel Hossein” wouldn’t have worked and “Colonel Vasiri” just sounds vague.
So, anyway, Slaughter is now a bad guy with a real Iraqi dude who was once bff’s with Saddam Hussein and the Iron Sheik as a co-wrestler.
Oh yeah. Slaughter also burned a Hulk t-shirt (which is a service, trust me) and an American flag…because Vince McMahon would do ANYTHING to stir up the fans.
So much so, that Slaughter actually was refused service in several places because restaurants and retail stores took his garbage seriously. Whoops.
That about covers that.
After Wrestlemania VI, Hulk Hogan would start a feud with Earthquake that would last through a good portion of the year. Of course, he won that.
Meanwhile, The Ultimate Warrior dropped the Intercontinental Title as rules of the time stated that a single wrestler could only hold one title of his choosing and not both. The Intercontinental Title was pushed into a tournament and won by Mr. Perfect, who would end up defending that title at this Wrestlemania against the Big Boss Man.
I’m just gonna take an aside here…the Boss Man? Really? The storyline went like this – apparently Heenan was saying some nasty shit about Boss Man’s mother, causing Boss Man to take on and defeat every single wrestler in the Heenan family. Having gone through Haku, The Barbarian and Rick Rude, Boss Man was ready to take on the crown jewel of The Heenan Family and take his title.
Back to The Living Steroid: Warrior would take on Ravishing Rick Rude with the WWF Title at stake at SummerSlam in 1990. Rude lost the match and left the WWF. He would team up with Hogan at Survivor Series in 1991 in the “Sole Survivor” match. At the Royal Rumble, Hogan and Warrior’s worlds began to collide again…only this time, the two wouldn’t end up facing one another.
Prior the the Rumble, it was announced that Randy Savage was pushing to get the WWF Title back. He offered a challenge to the Warrior with Sherri delivering the message. This was an odd segment, as I remember, and had Sherri trying to seduce Warrior on live TV…which, I mean, is pretty NORMAL by today’s T & A standards but it’s still disturbing considering that Sherri is fucking ugly as sin and the Warrior is a big, dumb pile of muscles who speaks like a caveman surfer on acid.
Yeah…imagine THAT coupling…really let it sink in…
Anyhow, The Warrior screamed in Sherri’s face that Savage would NOT get a title match, which infuriated Savage something fierce.
Instead, the Warrior would face Slaughter instead.
If this sounds like a surreal mess, it was. This was Vince at his jingoistic best: the plan was for Warrior to drop the title at the Rumble. The Warrior would be too mad at Savage to try to gain it back from Slaughter and, of course, the one “Real American” who could take Slaughter down would be Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania…because we’re not at ALL used to seeing Hogan as champ.
At the Rumble, Hogan, predictably, won the 30-man over-the-top Royal Rumble and the Warrior dropped the title after Savage interfered in the match. Hogan would be named, by Jack Tunney on Saturday Night’s Main Event, as the “Number 1 Contender” after Duggan failed to grab the title earlier that night.
The lead-up went on for weeks after that. I swear, this felt like it took forever. We got long-winded speeches with Slaughter burning flags and Hulk’s gear and massive beatdowns which left Hogan bloodied in the ring. All the crowds did was boo the whole time Slaughter would bellow about how he would beat Hogan (which he pronounced “HOOO-GON!”)…it was just an awful time.
Anyhow, Sgt. Slaughter would be “defending” against Hogan in the main event. I say “defending” because, honestly, it was so telegraphed and predictable like all of Hogan’s other matches (with the exception of Wrestlemania 6) and nobody had any skill. Honestly, I don’t even get why Slaughter didn’t keep a move like the Camel Clutch on Hogan…you know what? We’ll get to that.
Warrior, meanwhile, would face Randy Savage in a feud that ended in one of the greatest single matches in Wrestlemania history: the loser would retire from the WWF.
In other WWF news:
Virgil had a falling out at the Royal Rumble with Ted DiBiase. DiBiase had taunted him all week, telling him what to do and, if he didn’t, he’d reveal some sort of “secret” about his mother. Virgil finally ended up decking DiBiase with his own belt and then challenged him to a match at Wrestlemania with the help of Rowdy Roddy Piper who had taken over announcing duties lately.
The Nasty Boys would take on The Hart Foundation for the Tag Team Championship. This, after a Tag Team Battle Royale went awry and the Legion of Doom was about to go to Wrestlemania. The Nasty Boys won after Power and Glory interfered in the match and eliminated Hawk.
This, in turn, would give The Legion of Doom a match against Power and Glory.
The British Bulldog would return to the WWF in singles competition and feud with The Warlord who had been split up by Slick and remade into a goth warrior badass. Heenan would take the Barbarian and team him with Haku. Barbarian was remade into a Conan-esque Barbarian and even lost the stupid facepaint. Jake “The Snake” Roberts got into an ugly feud with “The Model” Rick Martel after Martel would spray Snake’s eyes with his new perfume, “Arrogance”. This supposedly blinded Jake for a pretty long time. Jake would go on to challenge Martel at Wrestlemania…only, this time, both men would be blindfolded and would wear black hoods.
For some reason, Demolition would take on two Japanese wrestlers – Tenryu and Kitao. This was never fully explained and it still isn’t to this day.
The Texas Tornado, once an Intercontinental Champion, would take on Dino Bravo in singles competition.
Earthquake would continue his domination of singles wrestlers and take on Greg Valentine after Valentine turned his back on the Hart family.
The Mountie (Jacques Rougeau – remember him?) would take on Tito Santana…
…and that brings me to the debut of The Undertaker.
Mark Callaway would make his debut in the WWF as “The Undertaker” at Survivor Series 1990. At the time, he still looked like a badass, which is how I believe he also exited his Mom’s womb:
|Awww…he’s so cuuuute.|
Anyhow, The Undertaker’s debut was impressive. His gimmick was that of an undead mortician…or something like that. He was zombie-like, impervious to pain (or would no-sell everything), and was just freakin’ huge.
He would take on Jimmy Snuka in his first ever Wrestlemania match…one of many to come…
So…we all settled in?
Good, let’s start!
One of the more notable things about this Wrestlemania is that this is the first time in six years that Jesse “The Body” Ventura would NOT be helping Gorilla Monsoon on commentary. He would leave the WWF in late 1990 due to a disagreement with Vince McMahon on product licensing.
Ventura would have an interesting life, if he hadn’t had one already. In 1991, he would run for the Mayor of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota. He would win that race and serve for four years until 1995. Three years later, he would run for Governor of Minnesota and, again, he would win and serve four more years.
He would make a few more appearances in the WWE and would be inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2004. He would make a few more appearances after that, including one in 2009 at Tables, Ladders, and Chairs.
He is currently working on a new season of Conspiracy Theory w/ Jesse Ventura.
Wrestlemania VII starts live from the Los Angeles Memorial Arena. They were gonna have it at the giant coliseum but both weather and security were a HUGE concern, especially with Slaughter taking Iraq’s side. Officials didn’t know if they would be able to contain fans or guarantee safety in an outdoor environment.
I have to say that the intro is goofy. We get a teaser for Hogan vs. Slaughter where Vince actually says the words, “World Wrestling Federation Champion, SGT. SLAUGHTER!!!” Yes, at one point, one of the worst, most gimmicky wrestlers in the WWF held this title. It’s almost surreal to think about.
Willie Nelson sings “America, the Beautiful” to lead things off. He’s actually wearing the following:
- A Wrestlemania t-shirt
- A HULK RULES bandana
- Bret Hart Sunglasses
|This goes hand-in-hand with WWF Champion Sgt. Slaughter|
|I’m ALL for patriotism if it didn’t look this ridiculous.|
WWF Magazine once called the first match between The Rockers and Haku & Barbarian “a mismatch on paper” but this is not only a great match, it’s the Rockers in their prime. They look like they finally gel. Every move is perfectly-timed. The Barbarian and Haku are huge dudes. I mean HUGE. There’s a great move about a quarter of the way through where Marty leaps on top of Barbarian who looks like he’s gonna powerbomb Jannetty. Michaels gets inside the ring and drop kicks Barbarian over. Jannetty flips Barbarian over and just punches him. It’s a beautiful move. Heenan is managing Haku and Barbarian and does his usual schtick of shouting when something isn’t going his way from outside the ring. This is the main reason why Duggan is in the booth with Monsoon instead of Heenan. Barbarian has always been one of my fav wrestlers. He may be huge but he has power PLUS agility. Never is it more apparent than when Jannetty leaps at Barbarian from the top rope and Barbarian just catches him and powerslams him so hard, the ring shakes. It’s an incredible move. This is one of the reason the match works. Every competitor in the ring is so good at what they do, that they play off one another perfectly. The end comes when the Rockers double dropkick Barbarian out of the ring, then double clotheline Haku. Jannetty hits a flying dropkick and then Michaels hits a nice crossbody block and gets the pin.
WINNERS: The Rockers via Crossbody Block
GRADE: A-. Good way to start the show. After this, Both Barbarian and Haku would leave the WWF and finish out their careers with WCW and Independent circuits. The Rockers would split up (having a storyline feud) and go their separate ways. Jannetty did have a short-lived feud with Michaels which culminated in one of the greatest matches in RAW history but it never got better than that. Michaels would have a hell of a career while Jannetty would struggle and be in and out of the WWF/WWE. He would have a one-night-only return as a Rocker with Shawn Michaels.
WINNER: Texas Tornado via Tornado Punch
GRADE: D-. Putting it bluntly, both of these men are now dead. Dino Bravo would leave the WWF shortly after Wrestlemania VII where he would wrestle, independently, in Canada. Two years later, he was found shot to death (17 bullets, 7 to the head and 10 to the chest) in his home. He was only 44. Kerry Von Erich would compete for one more year, and leave the WWF in 1993, shortly after the Royal Rumble for the vacant WWF Title. He would kill himself a month later by shooting himself in the head. He was only 33 years old.
WINNER: British Bulldog via Powerslam
GRADE: B-. Not a bad match. The Warlord would leave the WWF in 1992 and go on to wrestle in WCW as well as independently.
WINNERS AND NEW CHAMPIONS: The Nasty Boys via Hart screwjob
GRADE: B-. A match that plodded to begin and got good near the end. The Hart Foundation would split up and go their separate ways. We will cover Bret Hart some more but Neidhart didn’t have the type of success that Hart had. He would go on a short singles career before teaming with Owen Hart for The New Foundation and then leaving the WWF in 1992. He’d have stints in Japan, WCW and would be in and out of the WWE before wrestling independently. He’s the father of Natalya, one of the WWE Divas. The Nasty Boys lost the Tag Titles to The Legion of Doom a few months later at SummerSlam. They would turn face in 1992 but not get the titles back. They would go back to WCW in ’93 and stay there until they retired.
MATCH #5: “The Model” Rick Martel vs. Jake “The Snake” Roberts in a Blindfold Match.
WINNER: Jake Roberts via DDT
GRADE: C+. Glad that angle ended. Ugh.
WINNER: The Undertaker via Tombstone
GRADE: D+. One letter grade up because this is the first notch in his Wrestlemania belt. After this match, Snuka wrestled independently until going into semi-retirement in 1996, when he was inducted into the WWF Hall of Fame. Snuka had a very tumultuous personal life which prevented him from being anything more in the WWE. He would make one more Wrestlemania performance 18 years later but mainly wrestle independently and in ECW, where he’d have more success.
MATCH #7: “Macho King” Randy Savage (w/ Sensational Queen Sherri) vs. The Ultimate Warrior in a Retirement Match
WINNER: The Ultimate Warrior via Shoulder Tackle
GRADE: A-. Incredible match. Long, drawn out with a great crowd. This kind of match is what Wrestlemania is all about.
WINNERS: Tenryu and Kitao via Powerbomb
GRADE: F. This was fucking boring and went nowhere quick. Demolition’s best days were behind them and the Japanese guys were just not into anything. After this, Demolition would break up and go their separate ways. Smash would wrestle again as “Repo Man”, with his gimmick being that of a car thief. He was instrumental in helping Ted DiBiase getting his Million Dollar Belt back from Virgil who would win it from him at SummerSlam after Wrestlemania. Crush would go face and become a surfer dude type character. He would turn heel again and face off against Savage for the remainder of his career. Both men would wrestle with WCW as well as independently. Tenryu would leave in 1994 after making two more appearances in two Royal Rumble matches. Kitao was something else…the WWF had teamed with a Japanese wrestling stable called Super World of Sports where Kitao, following this match, would take on a former sumo wrestler in Earthquake. Part-way through the match, Kitao began to no-sell Earthquake’s moves and attacks, then shot through the rest of the match, grabbing the mic at the end and declaring that wrestling was fake. He was restrained by many of his colleagues and never wrestled with SWS or WWF again.
WINNER: The Big Boss Man via DQ
After this match, Andre would be involved in a couple more storylines before going back to Japan to wrestle. He would pass away from a heart attack in 1993 due his size. Andre was the very first inductee of the WWF Hall of Fame where he was inducted the same year as his death. He is sorely missed. It was recently announced that there will be a 30-Man Over the Top Battle Royal in his memory at Wrestlemania XXX.
MATCH #10: Greg “The Hammer” Valentine vs. Earthquake (w/ Jimmy Hart)
WINNER: Earthquake via Earthquake Splash
GRADE: F. Valentine deserved better but whatever. After this match, Valentine would wrestle for about one more year before doing a short stint in WCW. He would return, for a short time, to the WWE as a masked wrestler before wrestling independently elsewhere. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2004.
WINNERS: The Legion of Doom via Doomsday Device
GRADE: F. This match was the Legion of Doom’s Wrestlemania debut and, honestly, they deserved better than a minute-long squash against a dying tag team like Power & Glory. The Legion of Doom, strangely enough, would win the Tag Titles at SummerSlam the same year and would keep them until 1992 before leaving the WWF for a while. Upon their return, they were managed by Paul Ellering who had a dumb-looking puppet named “Rocco”. This gimmick caused Hawk to leave the WWF in disgust over the new storyline while Animal stuck around. They would return in 1996, getting a fair amount of action…but we wouldn’t see the LOD return to Wrestlemania for another seven years. Power & Glory teamed with Slick and the Warlord to form a new three-man tag team but were beaten at SummerSlam in 1991. Both would leave the WWF a few months later. While Roma would go on to wrestle with WCW as a Horseman for the next couple of years, he wouldn’t really do much after that. He now runs a wrestling training school in Connecticut. Hercules would wrestle with WCW and the AWF for the next 7 years. He would pass away from heart disease in 2004. He was only 47 years old. Slick would leave the WWF a few months after this, after being powerslammed by The British Bulldog. He would return to the WWF as a face who had found religion (he was actually born-again in real life) and went on to train and manage Kamala. He would retire shortly after that and became an ordained minister in Texas after graduating from Trinity Valley Bible College. He would make one short Wrestlemania appearance at Wrestlemania 23, dancing with old school Superstars.
WINNER:Virgil via Countout.
GRADE: D+. This match is a dud, watching it again. Virgil is embarrassing and that’s a shame. He had a decent following but that was about it. And I think this is one of the only times I’ve ever seen DiBiase job.
WINNER: The Mountie via cheating.
GRADE: F. Has any Hart wrestler or stable except Earthquake and Dino Bravo ever won a match clean?
WINNER AND NEW CHAMPION: Hulk Hogan via Atomic Legdrop
GRADE: F. A HUGE step down from his match at last year’s event. It only got worse.
I’d give this one a C-, at best.