Monday, May 8, 2017

WrestleMania III: The Practically Perfect Pay-Per-View

Hulk Hogan slams Andre the Giant

WrestleMania III – Pontiac (Mich.) Silverdome – March 27, 1987

Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant packed the Dome for a WWF title match that Gorilla Monsoon perfectly described as “the irresistible force against the immovable object.”

Randy Savage and Ricky Steamboat battled for the Intercontinental championship in an amazing match that is still considered one of the best ever.

Add a record-breaking crowd of 93,000 fans (okay, some say it was only 78,000) and you have the perfect pay-per-view.

1. Can-Am Connection vs. Magnificent Muraco & Cowboy Bob Orton (with Mr. Fuji)
Gorilla Monsoon said Cowboy Bob Orton had "excellence of execution" before using the same phrase to describe Bret Hart later in the show. The Can-Ams were well on their way to the tag team titles as Rick Martel pinned Muraco with a cross-body block. However, Tom Zenk left the team and was later replaced by Tito Santana.

2. Billy Jack Haynes vs. Hercules
This “battle of the full nelsons” ended in a double-countout. Hercules busted Billy Jack’s head open with a chain after the match.  

3. Hillbilly Jim, Little Beaver & Haiti Kid vs. King Kong Bundy, Lord Littlebrook & Little Tokyo
Bundy headlined WrestleMania 2 but was relegated to a comedy match here. He made most of it, though, by slamming Little Beaver and dropping an elbow on him to earn a disqualification. Even Bundy’s little partners didn’t approve.

4. Loser Must Bow to the Winner: Junkyard Dog vs. King Harley Race (with Bobby Heenan and Fabulous Moolah)
Guest commentator Bob Uecker went crazy for Moolah and left the booth to go after her. Race saved this match by bumping all over the place, and he won clean with a belly-to-belly suplex. After the match, JYD gave Race a mock curtsey before hitting him with a chair and stealing his king outfit. It's weird to see a babyface lose a "humiliation" match.

5. Rougeau Brothers vs. Greg Valentine & Brutus Beefcake (with Dino Bravo & Jimmy Hart)
Bravo interfered to help the Dream Team win, but the heels left the ring without Beefcake after he disapproved of the outside help.

6. Hair vs. Hair: Roddy Piper vs. Adrian Adonis (with Jimmy Hart)
This was billed as Piper’s retirement match (yeah, right). Adonis put the sleeper on Piper but celebrated too early, thinking he had won. Beefcake came out to wake up Piper, who put Adonis to sleep.

Beefcake cut Adonis’ hair to kick off the “Barber” gimmick he would use for several years. Piper showed restraint by not beating up the fan who jumped into the ring after his win over Adonis. That would have ruined his feel-good "career-ending" victory.

7. British Bulldogs & Tito Santana vs. Hart Foundation & Danny Davis (with Jimmy Hart)
Jesse Ventura went down to the ring to be introduced to the live crowd, but he paid for his hubris by being forced to share a cart ride with Mathilda (the Bulldogs' mascot) back to the dressing room.

The babyfaces destroyed former referee Davis, who they blamed for the loss of their titles. Bob Uecker and Mary Hart both made good observations during the Hart Foundation match. Uecker actually listened to Gorilla's backstory, and when Santana started pummeling Davis, Uecker said, "He's waited a year for this!"

Mary Hart actually called Davey Boy's piledriver. Davis somehow survived and pinned Davey Boy after a shot with Hart’s megaphone.

8. Koko B. Ware vs. Butch Reed (with Slick)
Reed pulled the tights for leverage to get the pin on Koko. Santana saved Koko from a post-match attack and ripped off some of Slick’s clothes.

9. Intercontinental title: Ricky Steamboat (with George Steele) vs. Randy Savage (champion, with Elizabeth)
Savage wins the MVP award because he should have won the match twice. First, Savage would have won by countout when he knocked Steamboat into the crowd if Steele hadn't brought him back. Second, the ref was down after Savage hit the top-rope elbow and had Steamboat pinned.  

Later, Steele shoved Savage off the top rope, and Steamboat won the title with an inside cradle. Whenever you see a match with rapid-fire pinfall attempts, you can trace it to this match.

 10. Jake Roberts (with Alice Cooper) vs. Honky Tonk Man (with Jimmy Hart)
Honky scored the upset pin by using the ropes. Who knew his star would rise so much higher? After the match, Roberts used his snake to terrorize Jimmy Hart.

11. Killer Bees vs. Iron Sheik & Nikolai Volkoff (with Slick)
Hacksaw Jim Duggan was actually the star of this match. He interrupted Volkoff’s singing of the Russian national anthem, and he walloped Sheik with the 2x4. This caused the poor, innocent Bees to get disqualified.

12. WWF title: Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant (with Bobby Heenan)
Andre almost got the pin in the opening minute when he fell on Hogan after a failed bodyslam. This gave Heenan an excuse to lobby for another title shot down the road.

Hogan finally summoned the strength to slam Andre and drop the leg for the pin. Hogan slamming the 525-pound Andre is one of the greatest moments in wrestling history.

Next:  Survivor Series 87

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