The card for WrestleMania III featured a surprising number of non-clods considering it was pro wrestling in the mid-1980s, leading to several matches far more watchable than the previous two WrestleManias. The gimme here was Ricky Steamboat vs. Randy Savage for the Intercontinental Title, a match that probably still ranks top five in the opinions of most experts (and nerds). The second-place winner in this very scientific poll doubles as possibly the most significant match in pro wrestling history, Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant. While not a textbook classic, it is a match of mythical proportions, including the ability to draw 93,000 people to one venue. Hard to argue with money.
Today marks 25 years since the monumental professional wrestling event that was WWF WrestleMania III. The event that would purport to break the world’s indoor attendance record, the event headlined by three-year champion Hulk Hogan vs. former best friend and “undefeated” Andre the Giant, the event that encapsulates the incredible boom period of the 1980s somewhere between the petulant innocence of rock-n-wrestling and the glitz and glamour of global dominance.
With 25 years gone by, let’s take a look at 25 fun facts about this canonical event.
1) Sorry to start on a down note, but known deceased wrestlers, managers and wrestling personalities from that card include Gorilla Monsoon, Lord Alfred Hayes, Joey Marella, Hercules, Little Beaver, Little Tokyo, Fabulous Moolah, Junkyard Dog, Dino Bravo, Adrian Adonis, Davey Boy Smith, Randy Savage, Miss Elizabeth and Andre the Giant.
2) Attendance for this show has been disputed for the whole of its 25-year history. Vince McMahon and WWE claim 93,173, which would have broken Pope John Paul’s attendance number at the time. Since then, Wikipedia cites 93,682 in attendance for the Pope’s visit. Dave Meltzer and the Wrestling Observer frequently cite a faxed report from a Silverdome worker stating 78,000. And Hulk Hogan constantly increases the figure to the point where he may have slammed a 900-pound Andre the Giant in front of 17 million screaming Hulkamaniacs.
3) The announced total combined weight of the two main-event participants – Hulk Hogan at an announced 302 pounds and Andre the Giant at 525 pounds – is the most of any singles WrestleMania main event.
4) WrestleMania III marks what some consider the furthest WrestleMania-to-WrestleMania dive down the card for one wrestler: King Kong Bundy, who headlined WM2 against Hulk Hogan in a steel cage for the WWF Title and then teamed with two midgets to wrestle Hillbilly Jim and two more midgets in the third match of 12. The match’s saving grace: Bob Uecker, who likened Little Beaver after a 450-pound Bundy elbow drop to “marinated mushrooms.”
5) The double countout ending to the Billy Jack Haynes vs. Hercules “full nelson challenge” would be the second of its kind in WrestleMania history – the first being Paul Orndorff vs. Magnificent Muraco at WM2 – and would not be the last – Brutus Beefcake vs. Ted DiBiase and Hacksaw Duggan vs. Bad News Brown at WM5, Roddy Piper vs. Bad News Brown at WM6, Owen Hart & Davey Boy Smith vs. Vader & Mankind at WM13, and the first finish of Miz vs. John Cena at WM27.
6) The epic Ricky Steamboat vs. Randy Savage match was, at that point, the longest match in WrestleMania history at 14:35, topping Hogan & Mr. T vs. Piper & Orndorff (13:13), David Sammartino vs. Brutus Beefcake (an excruciating 12:43), Piper vs. Mr. T (a laborious 13:14) and the British Bulldogs vs. the Dream Team (13:03).
7) Accompanying Jake “The Snake” Roberts to the ring for his match against the Honky Tonk Man was shock-rock icon Alice Cooper. (No More) Mr. Nice Guy would be the fourth recording artist to accompany a wrestler at WrestleMania, the others being Cyndi Lauper (in the corner of Wendi Richter at WrestleMania 1), Ozzy Osbourne (seconding the British Bulldogs at WrestleMania 2) and of course Jimmy Hart (who performed with the Gentrys and managed many WWF superstars of the day).
Filed under: Eric's Blog, WWE News | Tagged: America the Beautiful, Andre The Giant, Aretha Franklin, bobby heenan, Coliseum Home Video, Hulk Hogan, King Kong Bundy, Randy Savage, Ricky Steamboat, WrestleMania, WrestleMania III, WrestleMania XXVIII, WWE, WWF | Leave a Comment »
1. Randy Savage as Space Ghost’s grandfather - Whoever wrote this script for him knew what they were talking about (“Have you met Haystacks Calhoun? Leaping Lanny? Wildfire Tommy Rich?”), and Randy’s delivery was freaking hilarious. – Eric
2. Randy Savage freaking out in ICW - My local public library used to have this “Best of International Championship Wrestling” video for rent when I was 10, and although I’d been a wrestling fan for years and knew Savage well already, nothing prepared me for insanity like this. -Eric
3. Randy Savage vs. Ric Flair, Superbrawl VI - I’ve already posted my favorite Savage vs. Flair match (from WrestleMania VIII), but this one was entertaining as heck (see “Related Videos” for parts two and three). Wow, there are a lot of dead people in this clip. - Eric
4. Randy Savage No Holds Barred Promo - This is one of my favorite promos ever. Savage just goes on and on about fish out of water and then what sounds like whorehouse but he is actually saying our house. Sherri starts climbing the cage and Zeus just yells out Hogan’s name. If I wasn’t for Randy Savage this would be unwatchable. - Jeremy
5. Randy Savage Bitches Hulk Hogan - Too this day this clip makes me happy. As a Savage fan watching him pointing his finger in Hogan’s face and telling him off is fantastic. Even as a kid I was cheering loudly. Then seeing him kick Brutus Beefcake out of frame was wonderful. I did forget about him tossing Elizabeth around though; yikes. This is one of the more genuine looking moments you can come by. - Jeremy
6. Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan Interviewed by Mean Gene - This segment will forever be stuck in my head. The Mega Powers coming together. Nothing more needs to be said. - Kevin
7. Andre the Giant vs. Randy Savage - From a 1988 Saturday Night’s Main Event. Two of the biggest names ever for the WWF Heavyweight Championship. It may not be as high quality as the ones Eric point out but the star power is there. - Kevin
8. Ultimate Warrior vs. Randy Savage - The Intercontinental Title was worn by the Warrior and Savage was still sporting the WWF Heavyweight Championship in this 1989 match at Madison Square Garden. I love the Warrior as a child so this one sticks out to me. In part 2, look for Rick Rude mugging to the camera. Awesomeness. -Kevin
9. Bret Hart vs. Randy Savage – Great forgotten match. These two would basically occupy the same space in different wrestling generations.
10. The Ring Bell – One of the most memorable angles of the ’80s, leading up to one of the best matches of the ’80s. Since the WrestleMania 3 match is on a million DVDs, I’ll post the angle instead, since it’s what drew the money. - Dusty
11. The End – Best picture ever. – Dusty
Eric and Kevin are back to discuss WWE Monday Night Raw in detail. How sad was John Cena’s latest “poopy” promo? Did the lack of in-ring action affect the show, poorly or at all? Was the latest twist in the Nexus angle the best route to go at this stage? And how about the eight wrestlers in the Money in the Bank ladder match for Raw? Also, Wade Barrett and Drew McIntyre might not have the great problems Eric thought they would with their work visas, explains one PWTorch.com VIP Forum member, but we should all be prepared for the problems Michelle McCool’s marriage to the Undertaker will surely cause. All this and more, just a click away! (69 minutes)
Dammit, as soon as I heard Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat would wrestle Chris Jericho on some upcoming shows overseas, I knew WWE’s stupid plans were going to cost me and Jordan a chance to see him at the Dan Gable International Wrestling Institute and Museum this weekend. Now it’s confirmed:
Ricky Steamboat, an inductee for the Class of 2009 of the George Tragos/Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame, will not be able to attend the event, it was announced today.
“We received word from Ricky last week that he is scheduled to be in Japan working for the WWE during the time our event is going on and can’t come to Waterloo,” said Mike Chapman, executive director. “Of course, we were very disappointed to hear that and we have been working hard to try and get him here, but it’s just not going to work out.”
“I talked to Ricky several times as we tried to work something out and he was disappointed,” said Kent Sesker, marketing director, “especially adding the fact that his son, Ricky Jr., is scheduled to wrestle on the Harley Race WLW card Friday night at Young Arena. “It’s just one of those unfortunate situations.”
Attendance at the event is one of the requirements to being inducted, said Chapman, and all honorees are told that at the time they are informed they have been voted in. But, some times situations change and they simply can’t come.
“That’s the nature of the business,” said Chapman.
Of the 23 living inductees, only two previous inductees have not been able to attend. Jack Brisco, Class of 2001, was stopped by a severe illness. He was on a phone hookup for the event and spoke to the crowd. And in 2005, Antonio Inoki could not come from Japan at the last moment.
“We will have a great event with Nick Bockwinkel and Fritz von Goering here for the inductions, and with Ivan Koloff accepting the Frank Gotch Award,” said Sesker. “Also, Bill Kersten, a legendary ring announcer and radio talk show host from the Kansas City area, will accept the Lou Thesz World Heavyweight Championship Award, and Mike Mooneyham, sports writer and columnist from Charleston, N.C., will receive the Jim Melby Excellence in Writing Award.
In addition, Charlie Thesz, widow of the hall of fame’s namesake, will be at her 11th consecutive inductions. A video of Lou, made by legendary filmmaker David Wolper (of “Roots” and “The Thorn birds” fame) will be shown in the museum throughout the day, along with a 2008 video produced on the life of Frank Gotch.
Hall of famers who have announced they will be at the event over the weekend include:
• Dan Hodge, Class of 2000, and the only man to ever win national titles in both boxing and wrestling; he will be signing copies of his new book, “Oklahoma Shooter: Than Dan Hodge Story;
• Harley Race, Class of 2005 and eight-time NWA world heavyweight champion;
• Baron Von Raschke, Class of 2002, great star of the 1970s and ‘80s, who was third in the World as an amateur wrester;
• Bob Geigel, Class of 2002, former wrestling star and legendary Kansas City promoter;
• Mad Dog Vachon, Class of 2003; a former Canadian national amateur champion who wrestled in the 1948 Olympics before becoming a pro icon;
• Larry “The Axe” Henning, Class of 2006 and father of the late Curt “Mr. Perfect” Hennig, Class of 2007.
Absolutely nothing against the museum, which is a classy organization from top to bottom, and nothing against Steamboat, who’s just doing what his boss tells him. This is just some shady-ass shit from WWE, trying to ruin a perfectly nice weekend for a bunch of fans. We’re still going, and we’re still having a great time. Everyone in the area should attend as well; the museum has nearly recuperated from the crippling effects of the floods of 2008 but could still use all the help we can give it. -Eric/Jordan
(As many of you know, I live in Iowa and used to live in Waterloo, home of the Dan Gable International Wrestling Institute and Museum. The annual George Tragos/Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame inductions take place the weekend of July 10-11, and this is the latest press release, naming more honorees for various awards. The full list of inductees is at the bottom of this release. If there’s any chance you’ll be in the area, let me know and we can throw down some beers, you can see my bassist and I play an acoustic set on Saturday night, and then we can throw down some more beers! -Eric)
Three More to be Honored at Pro Hall of Fame Event
Three distinguished members of the professional wrestling community – Ivan Koloff, Mike Mooneyham and Bill Kersten – will be honored with special awards at the 2009 Inductions Weekend at the George Tragos/Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame event. Activities will take place the weekend of July 10-11, at the Dan Gable International Wrestling Institute and Museum, where the pro hall of fame is located.
Ivan Koloff (aka James Perras) will receive the 2009 Frank Gotch Award, which is presented annually to a former professional wrestler who brings considerable recognition to the sport by his or her activities outside the ring. A born-again Christian, Koloff and his wife, Renae, live in Winterville, N.C. He is active with various charities and as a minister.
James Perras was raised on a dairy farm in Crysler, Ontario, Canada, and became a fan of professional wrestling as a boy. He had his first match at age 18 and in 1967, at age 25, he became Ivan Koloff, “The Russian Bear.” Over the next three decades, he toured the world, winning numerous titles. The highlight came in 1971 when he captured the WWWF world championship from Bruno Sammartino. He moved on to the NWA for a long and successful run, capturing more titles, including half of the world tag team championships. He continued for years afterwards on the independent circuit.
Ivan also helped train his “nephew,” Nikita Koloff, and the pair became a very successful tag team partnership. Nikita was given the Frank Gotch Award in 2006.