WWE Wrestlemania III
March 29, 1987
Can-Am Connection vs Don Muraco and 'Cowboy' Bob Orton w/ Mr Fuji
The Can-Am Connection is Tom "The Future Z-Man" Zenk and Rick "The Future Model" Martel. Zenk and Martel starts off with some nice double team moves. Zenk and Orton trades Full Nelsons which is a terrible idea seeing what match is next. Muraco accidentally back body drops Orton. The faces hit a Rock 'N' Roll Express-like double dropkick on Muraco. Martel hits a running crossbody on Muraco and Muraco trips on Zenk (School boy) which allows Martel to pick up the pin for his pin. Commentator, Jesse Ventura calls foul since Can-Am were in the ring for longer than 5 seconds. A nice little match to start things out. The crowd was pretty hot for the match. I don't recall there being any build for this match, however; this had two major purposes. The WWE had major plans for the Can-Am Connection (Before Zenk left and Tito came in to form Strike Force) and there would be more problems between Muraco and Orton which would lead to Muraco turning face. 6 Minutes. 2 1/2 Stars.
Billy Jack Haynes vs Hercules w/ Bobby Heenan - Full Nelson Challenge
Long before Chris Masters came onto the scene, the full nelson at one time was a major deal. These two wrestled a little in '86, but once Hercules started using Haynes' Full Nelson, a full on feud began. Billy Jack Haynes looks a lot like a thin Dr Death Steve Williams. These days he looks like Tugboat. Both guys goes nose to nose before the fight. Billy Jack tries to go for the Full Nelson early on, but Hercules gets to the ropes. Herc is in control for a few minutes until a double closeline. Billy Jack takes over and the match drags on a bit. Herc with a Full Nelson, but isn't able to lock the fingers. Billy Jack tries the Full Nelson now and is able to lock the fingers. Herc is able to pull Haynes to the ropes and both men fall out of the ring. Before Herc can get back in the ring, Haynes locks in the Full Nelson again. Neither man is able to get back in the ring before the 10 count and we get a double CO. Post match has Hercules busting Haynes open with his chain. For two power wrestlers, the match wasn't all that bad. The finish was disappointing, but I enjoyed Hercules post match beating. Haynes looked like a surefire main eventer, but for whatever reason, he would leave soon after this match. Hercules of course deserved a bigger push than the one he got. 8 Minutes. 2 Stars.
Hillbilly Jim, Little Beaver and The Haiti Kid vs King Kong Bundy, Lord Littlebrook and Little Tokyo
Everyone except Bundy and Jim are midgets. The Haiti Kid is best remembered for his head shaving from Roddy Piper and Orton on The Piper's Pit. We get some midget double teaming. Bundy is tagged in to wrestle Jim, but Little Beaver likes taking cheap shots on Bundy, that jerk. Pick on someone your own size.
Bundy gets alone with Little Beaver and he gets his revenge with a big Elbow on the little bully. All 3 midgets gets in the ring to try and help their little pal. Hillbilly Jim carries Little Beaver out of the ring and leaves with the other 3 midgets. God, that sounds like the start of some joke. A hillbilly and 3 midgets go to a bar...Anyways, lesson learned in this match: Don't trust midgets. They will either take cheap shots on you or will turn on you. Bundy squashing Beaver makes this memorable and entertaining. Seeing how I was smiling the whole time, I'll bump the rating up some. 5 Minutes. 1 1/2 Stars.
The Junkyard Dog vs King Harley Race w/ Queen Moolah and Jimmy Hart - Lower must bow match
These two have been wrestling ever since Race came into the WWF in '86. JYD believes that there shouldn't be a king. Race wants JYD to bow like he should. Race bumps all around for JYD to make this match somewhat entertaining. Jimmy Hart distracts JYD some to give Race time to heal up. Dog turns around right into a nice Belly-to-belly suplex to win the match. Post match has JYD bowing, but then attacking Race. JYD leaves with Race's robe. Even with Race long past his prime, he's still better than most wrestlers in the company. JYD was pretty terrible at times and this is no different. Personally, I would of replaced JYD with Tito Santana in this match. You would still have the minority going against the slightly racist King Race, but with Santana being in his prime, this would be so much better. I really wish Race would of gotten more moves in though. He literally had the belly-to-belly and that was it. They at least kept it short though. 3 Minutes. 1 1/2 Stars.
Rougeau Brothers vs The Dream Team w/ Johnny Valiant and Dino Bravo
The Dream Team were Brutus "Soon to be The Barber" Beefcake and Greg Valentine. Last year they put on the match of the night against the Bulldogs. The Rougeau's were still faces. These two teams were putting on some quality matches in 1986 including at The Big Event (Bad name, but pretty good show). Sadly, the commentators aren't even talking about the match and this is nothing more a piss break right before the first major match. Jacques and Raymond hits some nice moves though. Finish comes when Rougeau's hit their finisher (a top rope Lou Thesz Press), but Dino Bravo runs in and stops it when the ref was distracted. The Dream Team picks up the win. Post match has Brutus acting confused as to why Dino did this (I thought Brutus was a heel?
). His partners have enough and just leaves without him. While this match seems unmemorable, which it was, the post match would be very memorable. With that, the Dream Team was disbanded, the New Dream Team (Valentine and Bravo) were created and Brutus was now a tweener. Sadly, I wish they would of made more of an effort into putting this match over though. 4 Minutes. 2 Stars.
Adrian Adonis w/ Jimmy Hart vs Roddy Piper - Hair vs Hair Match
This match had been in the building stages ever since Piper turned face. This match also has the benefit of being Piper's final match ever. Monsoon reminds us that win, lose or draw, it will be his final match. A full decade before Hogan started doing it, Piper uses his belt to hit Adonis. Adonis returns the favour though. Big Flair bump by Adonis to the outside. Jimmy Hart tries to get involved, but Piper throws him around the ring. Jimmy would continue to get involved during the course of the match. Goodnight Irene (The Sleeper) by Adonis. Jimmy is jumping outside of the ring with the hedgeclippers. That can't be safe.
Piper is fading out. Adonis thinks he won it so he let go of the submission. Out from the back comes Brutus Beefcake to wake Piper up. Gasp...Beefcake is a face now~! Beefcake runs his future manager (1993) out of the ring to make it one-on-one again. Adonis grabs the clippers to hit Piper, but Piper moves out of the way. The classic Rock/Angle spot of hitting the top rope with a chair and having it hit them in the face is done here with the clippers. That could of been a nasty botch had Adonis not been careful. That allows Piper to lock in his Sleeper and put Adonis to sleep to win the match. Post-match has Piper holding back Hart while Brutus shaves Adonis' head. This was sports entertainment at it's best. Very little "wrestling", but such a fun show these 3 (Hart was just as much involved as the wrestlers) put on. The match was also ahead of it's time doing spots that would be done hundreds of times in the future. At this point in his career, Adonis was at his worst for being in shape. But what separates Adonis from all the other out of shape wrestlers (Chris Harris anyone?) is that he could still work. The guy was such a good worker that even out of shape, he could put on a good match. As far as what happens after this event, Adonis would stick around in the WWF for a few more months before heading back to the AWA. He would join up with Paul Dangerous and his Dangerous Alliance. Sadly, Adonis would die a year and a half after this event. Brutus Beefcake went into this show as a heel tag team wrestler. He would leave as a face and would now have the gimmick that would make him one of the more over faces in the company. In addition to that, he now had a brand new finisher, The Sleeper. As for Piper, this would end up being his final match ever. 7 Minutes. 3 1/2 Stars.
Jesse Ventura heads down to the ring to be introduced to the fans. Gorilla plugs Ventura's new movie, Predator. To think 15 years later, the WWE would be plugging such movies as Blade III, See No Evil, The Marine and other terrible flicks. Ventura and Roddy Piper would both have really good films coming out within the next year (Predator and They Live).
The Hart Foundations and Danny Davis w/ Jimmy Hart vs The British Bulldogs and Tito Santana
Danny Davis was a former referee for the WWF. Back in early 1986, he was the assigned ref to the Tito Santana/Randy Savage IC title match in the Boston Garden. That was the match where Savage cheated to win the match. Jump ahead to early 1987 and The Bulldogs defended the tag titles against The Harts. Since Dynamite Kid was injured, they did a storyline where the Harts jumped Dyno before the match. Danny Davis would come under fire for starting the match even though Dynamite Kid would be out cold for practically the entire match. Harts won the match. Because of those actions and others, WWF President Jack Tunney suspended Danny Davis for life as a referee. Jimmy and the Harts then offered Davis a spot in the Hart Foundation. So now, the banned referee was the wrestling referee. And since Dynamite was still hurt, they made the 6 man tag so that he wouldn't have to do too much. Tito Santana works the match for the early part. Once Dyno comes in, he goes on the defense selling for everyone. The story of this match was that Davis would only get in the ring if the legal man was down. Dyno knees Davis to tag in Santana. Santana beats the hell out of Davis. Tag to Davey Boy Smith. Tombstone Piledriver~! Davey with a Running Powerslam has the pin broken up by Neidhart. All 6 man are in the ring fighting. In all of the commotion, Jimmy Hart throws in the megaphone to Davis. Smith goes down from the megaphone hit. Davis covers and gets the win for his team. A surprising finish since the tag titles weren't on the line. Good booking throughout the match though. They worked around Dyno's injury well. Had Dyno been healthy and we would of gotten another Bulldogs vs Harts match, it could of easily made this a huge 3 match card that people would remember. But, for what it was, it was good. Always great to see the Tombstone used before Taker. 9 Minutes. 3 Stars.
Koko B. Ware vs Butch Reed w/ Slick
Let's be honest, this is nothing more than a piss break. But it's not totally useless, this was a way to help push Butch Reed who the WWF had big plans for in '87. Reed wins while grabbing the tights. Post-match has Tito Santana running down and attacking Reed and ripping Slick's suit apart. How about that, they made this match have some purpose after all. These two had been feuding before the PPV with Slick using his pimp cane to hurt Santana. Had Dyno been healthy enough to wrestle in a tag match, I'm guessing we would of saw Santana vs Reed. 4 Minutes. 1 Star.
Randy Savage (c) w/ Miss Elizabeth vs Ricky Steamboat w/ George Steel - WWF IC Title Match
This feud started during an IC Title match where Savage injured Steamboat's throat with a ring bell and the guard rail. Steel and Savage had been feuding over Elizabeth since last WM. I can only assume he's out there to make sure Savage doesn't cheat and not to make sure the tiny Elizabeth doesn't cost Steamboat the match. Now, do I really need to go into detail about this match? If you want to know what happens in the match, find a copy of the match. But just a quick sum up of the match: the match starts off slow with both men being thrown out of the ring a lot. Savage tries reinjuring the throat of Steamboat. Near the end, a near record amount of 2 counts. Ref bump with Savage using it as a chance to use the ring bell exactly as he did to hurt Steamboat. Steel grabs the bell, but Savage kicks him to get it back. Steel pushes him off of the top rope. The ref recovers to see Savage getting up to bodyslam Steamboat, but Steamboat rolls through with a small package. With that, Ricky is the new IC champion. This match really needs to be watched by all fans who wants to be a wrestler. It really shows that you don't need an hour to put on a wrestling classic. This match was just a perfect blend of backstory, psychology, exciting near falls and a creative (At the time) finish. A goal of a match shouldn't be to make it long. You should go out there, do everything you need to do and get out. That's why when I watch matches like Hunter vs Michaels HIAC, I'm wondering what was going on in their heads to think that 50 minutes was smart. This match wasn't supposed to be the huge hit it became. As far as importance leading up to the show, he was behind the Hair vs Hair match and almost on the level of JYD vs Race. But through the course of the match, Savage and Steamboat sucked the fans into the match. As a result, this is easily the second biggest match from this show. The only bad thing about all this is that with such a huge match, it overshadows everything else Steamboat did during this run in the WWF. The guy had a great IC title feud with Greg Valentine and a ruthless feud with Don Muraco prior to the Savage classic. Hopefully the upcoming Steamboat DVD will show case those some. Anyways, this is one of the matches that any fan needs to see. 17 Minutes. 5 Stars.
Jake Roberts w/ Alice Cooper vs Honky Tonk Man w/ Jimmy Hart
"And the award to the two most unlucky guys goes to..." Honestly, how would you like to try to follow up that match? This was actually an important feud for both men. Both came into the WWF in 1986, but in opposite roles. Jake was a heel while HTM was a face. Both started to turn around the same time. IIRC, this would be both man's first feud in their new alignment. The feud started on Jake's talk show, The Snake Pit. HTM smashed a guitar over the head of Roberts. To even the odds, Jake brings in Detroit's own, Alice Cooper. A lot of punching in the match. Like the fans, it's really hard to get into this match. End comes when Jake goes for the DDT, but Hart interferes causing the distraction. HTM wins with a school boy pin. Post-match has Jake and Cooper harassing Hart with Damien. Terrible card placement. Granted, the WWF didn't think Savage/Steamboat would be as good as it was, but putting an important match like this after it killed whatever greatness it could of been. I'd recommend watching this match on Jake's DVD. With it just being a random match, it flows so much more nicely. That being said, it's still not that good of a match. 8 Minutes. 1 1/2 Stars.
Nikolai Volkoff and The Iron Sheik w/ Slick vs The Killer Bees
Before the match, Volkoff sings the Russian National Anthem. Jim Duggan makes his PPV debut running down and interrupting it sending the heels running. Duggan doesn't like hearing the Russian Anthem. Duggan says this is the land of the free and the home of the brave. Hmm...if this was the land of the free, than why can't Volkoff sing his fucking anthem?
The Killer Bees were a fairly talented team. At the end of the match, The Sheik locks in the Camel Clutch on Brunzell. In his infamous shoot interviews, Sheik says that Blair was lucky he didn't fuck him in the ass during the move to make him humble. Problem is that he never did the Camel Clutch to Blair. Duggan for no real reason chases Slick and Volkoff around the ring with his 2x4. Volkoff rolls in the ring and Duggan follows. Duggan notices the Camel Clutch so he hits Sheik with the 2x4 drawing the DQ. Ugh. None of Duggan's actions made any sense and it just made him look like a complete dumbass. Sadly, Duggan really drags this match down. Had Duggan not been involved at all, this would of been a nice little unknown gem of WM 3. But with him involved, it's a disappointing match with a terrible finish. 6 Minutes. 2 Stars.
Hulk Hogan (c) vs Andre the Giant w/ Bobby Hennan - WWF World Title Match
Yeah, I never heard of this match match either. This began years ago as Hogan and Andre were BFF. Once Heenan realized that his men couldn't beat Hogan for the title, he went to his old rival, Andre. Weeks to months, Heenan kept talking in Andre's ear saying how he wasn't getting the respect he deserves. Finally, when Andre won an award and Hogan was out doing all of the talking, Andre left Piper's Pit (where the award was presented). The next week he returned with Bobby Heenan to challenge Hogan. Match starts with Hogan hitting a few punches and goes for a bodyslam. He's unable to life him and Andre falls on him getting a long 2 count. Jesse thinks Andre won. Once Andre returned in Nov, they would air that moment many times trying to say he did win and thus deserved a rematch. Hogan sells the back for the rest of the match. Andre does the unthinkable and is in total control for most of the match. Even more impressive is that Andre doesn't even look like he's trying. Hulkamania may finally die?! On the outside, Andre misses a headbutt and nails the ring post. Hogan uses that time to pull back the mats on the outside revealing the concrete...err wood platform. Hogan goes to piledrive Andre on the wood. Fuck.
Hogan to no surprise is unable to because of his back and because Andre is 500 FUCKING POUNDS. Back inside, Andre locks in a mighty bearhug. Hogan looks out of it. The ref brings his arm up, it drops. 1~! The ref brings the arm up again and it drops. 2~! The ref repeats and the arm drops once again 3~! Wait...3?! The ref raises Hogan's arm up one last time hoping that Hogan suddenly remembers how to count and Hogan doesn't let it fall this time. In all the times I've watched this match, I never noticed Hogan's botch. Hulk begins to Hulk Up and closeline Andre. Andre for the first time in the match is down on the mat. Hogan feeds off of the crowd and bodyslams Andre successfully. Hitting the ropes and the legdrop and Hogan has done the impossible by beating Andre. For 3 years, Hogan has never taken such a punishment. This is the ultimate superman come back really launched Hogan into God-like superstardom. While Steamboat vs Savage is the 5 star for the smark crowd, this was 5 star for the marks. THIS is what pro wrestling is about. It's not about how many moves you do or whatever, it's about creating a moment which hooks the fans for the entire time. This match does that. This match would also be the first true "Wrestlemania" level main event. More importantly, it's a perfect ending to an incredible WM. 12 Minutes. 4 Stars.
Let's see...this show has one of the greatest matches in US history along with the biggest match in US history. Everything else is just a bonus. This was the first WM where they really put effort into making it be about feuds instead of half random matches. Even the time fillers/piss breaks have something of value in them. Whether it's a face turn or interference to create a new feud. There isn't a match on the card that doesn't have some meaning. Granted there were some disappointments such as that terrible finish of the last tag match. But you get two insanely great matches and a few other good ones. This makes it more than passable.
Best Match: Randy Savage vs Ricky Steamboat
Worst Match: Butch Reed vs Koko B. Ware
Overall Grade: A