March 29, 1987
Announcers: Gorilla Monsoon & Jesse "The Body" Ventura
What can you say about Wrestlemania III that hasn't already been said? It's known far and wide as the most special of shows and is considered by most to be the best Wrestlemania of all time. Vince McMahon needed something to top Wrestlemania 2 in 1986, which boasted a card from three different venues across the United States. How could one possibly outdo that? How about by filling the Pontiac Silverdome to capacity? Idealistic, perhaps, but it's risks like these that contributed to the WWF's success today. To accomplish such a feat, the WWF would obviously have to rely on their biggest attraction, WWF Champion Hulk Hogan. His new challenger would be a fresh one, as longtime fan favorite, the legendary Andre The Giant, was thrust into the role of super villan, and the most epic match of all time was created: Hulk Hogan vs. Andre The Giant for the WWF Championship. Vince wanted to sell out the Silverdome, and with Hogan and Andre in the main event, he did just that. It was an epic feud for the ages, and the main attraction of a show that would go down in history as one of the greatest ever.
We start off with an awesome video package with Gene Okerlund in the ring the day before the event. Seats and wires are still being set up in the background. He explains how everything is being constructed. Then we see fans filing into the building only two hours before the show, and Gorilla Monsoon and Lord Alfred Hayes offer some more hype.
Vince McMahon begins the show in the ring to introduce Aretha Franklin, who sings America The Beautiful. On Wrestlemania All Day Long in 2000, both Vince and Linda McMahon spoke about how Aretha had gotten stuck in traffic and hadn't been able to make it to the Dome in time for a sound check, so she performed without one. Vince said that he got goosebumps in front of the massive crowd and got choked up thinking of how proud his late father would be. The size of the Dome and the amount of people packed in there has to be seen to be understood. It's truly mind-boggling.
The Can-Am Connection vs. Magnificent Muraco & Cowboy Bob Orton
I'm busy staring at the breathtaking size of the crowd, while Rick Martel gets them all going right off the bat by confusing the hell out of Don Muraco and scoring a few near falls. The Can-Ams hit a double monkey flip on Muraco, then a double hip toss on Orton. The heels regroup on the floor with their manager, Mr. Fuji, while the announcers put over the true awesomeness of the full Silverdome. Tom Zenk works Orton's arm, then Muraco's, but Orton catches him with a knee from the apron, allowing the heels to take control. A double team gets two, then a collision leads to a hot tag. All four men come in, and Orton gets sent to the floor. Zenk creeps behind Muraco after a reversed whip, and Martel gets three with a crossbody at 5:38. Hot opener. **1/2
A Billy Jack Haynes/Hercules video package is shown; their feud is over whose Full Nelson is better.
Gene is with Hercules and Bobby Heenan, who makes cracks about Billy "Jerk" Haynes. That's why they call him the Brain, folks. Hercules makes a ridiculous speech about the pillars of Rome or something, a favorite line of former RajahWWF.com columnist, Vegas.
Billy Jack Haynes vs. Hercules
Jesse reminisces about Gorilla's prime, supposedly in 1932. Ha! The big guys brawl to start and Billy Jack pulls out an eye-opening press slam. He goes for the Full Nelson quickly, but Herc gets to the ropes. Haynes charges and Herc hits a huge blind clothesline out of nowhere. Herc softens up the back with a suplex, covers, and picks him up at two, which is always a big mistake. Haynes tries a suplex of his own, but can't get it because of his injured back. Pretty good psychology here. Herc hits a backbreaker, and hooks the Full Nelson, but can't quite hook the fingers to make it an effective hold. Haynes breaks it and comes back with clotheslines and a leg drop. He goes for his own Full Nelson and hooks it, but Herc makes the ropes and they both spill to the floor where Haynes keeps the hold on, and they're both counted out at 7:53. Better match than I remembered. ** The outcome, however, settled nothing in what was supposed to be the blowoff for a big feud. After the match, Herc nails Haynes with his chain, and Billy blades, as the heel Hercules stands tall with a moral victory.
This Coliseum Video is blatantly edited here, as they cut out most of the entrances the entire first half of the show. I never thought I'd say this, but the WWF Home Video's boxset version really is better than this Coliseum one, as far as the lack of clips though. There is some exclusive Coliseum footage later that's worth viewing, but this pointless editing drives me nuts.
Hillbilly Jim, Little Beaver & The Haiti Kid vs. King Kong Bundy, Lord Littlebrook & Little Tokyo
This is the first mixed tag match at a Wrestlemania, and the rules are simple; big guys against big guys, little guys against little guys. Seems easy enough, right? But Jesse keeps teasing a Bundy confrontation with one of the little guys, so you just know it's going to happen. Bob Uecker, celebrity guest, is pretty entertaining on commentary, as we get the standard midget match fare. Of all the guest celebrities throughout the years, Uecker always seemed to "get it" the most, and seemed pretty knowledgable about his role as a commentator and what was going on in general. I say they bring him back once in awhile today just for a few laughs. Back to the match, the face midgets keep badgering Bundy, so he does what any 400+ pound heel would do and bodyslams Little Beaver thus drawing the DQ at 4:07. After an elbow drop to boot, all three other midgets in the match and Hillbilly save the Beave from further punishment, forcing Bundy to the back. A definite DUD, but for some reason it's a pretty famous match.
Gene is with "King" Harley Race, "Queen" Fabulous Moolah, and Bobby "The Brain" Heenan.
Junkyard Dog vs. "King" Harley Race
The stipulation here is that the loser has to bow to the winner. At the sight of Moolah (with Race), Uecker excuses himself to track her down personally. Race and JYD brawl, then Race does a cool spot that would prove to be the only highlight of the match, where he misses a headbutt from the apron to the floor. Ouch. Back in the ring, JYD hits the headbutts and Race sells like crazy, but Heenan distarcts JYD, and Race catches him with a quick belly to belly for three at an abrupt 2:18. 1/2* JYD now must bow to the King as stipulated, but he's a sore loser, so when Race turns his back, he nails him with a chair. And the people pop! And everyone says 1998 is when the shades of gray started.
Gene interviews Lucious Johnny V and his Dream Team, Greg Valentine and Brutus Beefcake, along with Canadian lackey, Dino Bravo.
Rougeau Brothers vs. Dream Team
These two teams had some awesome matches with one another in months prior to this, but this one seems rushed. Bobby Heenan joins the commentary team, so I listen to him gloat about his success instead of paying much attention to the match. Ray Rougeau puts Valentine in the sleeper, so Beefcake tries to break it... but nails his own partner by mistake. D'oh! The Rougeaus hit the Rougeau Bomb on Valentine and cover, but Bravo sneaks in, cheap shots Jacques, and the Dream Team picks up the win at 4:03. *3/4 Valiant, Bravo, and Valentine leave together without Beefcake, thus ousting him from the team and turning him face. Valentine and Bravo would last about six months as a team before going their separate ways, while Beefcake was given new life as a top midcard babyface, so he probably got the better of the split anyway.
The Piper/Adonis viedo package is clipped. Stupid edits....
Rowdy Roddy Piper vs. Adorable Adrian Adonis
Not only is this Piper's retirement match, but the loser has to get their hair cut by their opponent. Yes, this was billed as Piper's final match. Ever. In 1987. Wrestling retirements: gotta love 'em. Piper goes nuts on his arch-rival with his belt, whipping the tar out of him, but Adonis gains control and answers back with a few beltshots of his own. Piper fights back and takes care of Adonis, but Jimmy Hart gets involved as well. The ref lets everything fly as Piper just abuses poor Jimmy, but a smart heel manager always gets revenge, and Jimmy is no different, hooking Piper's leg so Adrian can take the advantage. He later sprays arrogance in Hot Rod's face, and Adonis gets the sleeper. Piper's arm drops twice, and Adonis lets go of the hold. He and Hart celebrate, thinking the match is over, but it's not, and Brutus Beefcake runs in to help revive Piper. Piper puts his version of the sleeper on Adonis, and makes sure to hold it on until Adrian's arm drops all three times. Piper takes the win at 6:53. *1/2, but the heat was amazing. Beefcake cuts Adonis's hair to start his new gimmick as the resident barber of the WWF. Some nut from the crowd hops the barrier and congratulates Piper, so Roddy plays it off until security just pounces on him. Hot Rod leaves, celebrating to the cheers of the crowd. I'm sure it was a pretty emotional moment in 1987, but since the guy would still be around a decade later, I'm pretty desensitized to it.
Intermission is editted out.
British Bulldogs & Tito Santana vs. Hart Foundation & "Dangerous" Danny Davis
The once bright Dome has now grown darker. Jesse Ventura is at ringside to be announced, but they even edit that out. In Jesse's absence, Mary Hart and Uecker join Gorilla in the booth for commentary. Davis is an evil referee turned wussy wrestler. As a ref, he had cost Tito the Intercontinental Title (to Randy Savage) and the Bulldogs the Tag Titles (to the Harts), so the faces are out for some major revenge here. Some good back and forth action to start, and then the heels decide to work over Dynamite. Um, WHY?! Two months earlier the guy nearly got crippled and gutted it out in poor condition to fulfill his commitments and drop the Tag Titles to the Harts. He also wanted to make it to Wrestlemania, so he came back from the injury way too soon (a mistake that would later contribute to him ending up in his current state: in a wheelchair), so why the hell is he taking all the abuse when Tito and Davey Boy are perfectly capable of doing so instead? The Harts take him out with a backbreaker/elbow combination for two. Davis tags in for two quick kicks while Dynamite is down, and then calmly tags out again. Massive heel heat for that. The Harts continue the beatdown, then slingshot Davis in, but Dynamite brings up the knees and makes the hot tag to Tito, who absolutely destroys Dangerous Danny. A Figure Four is stopped by Niedhart, so Tito tags Davey Boy, who KILLS Davis with a tombstone piledriver. Davis' head must have bounced a foot off the mat. Next up is a delayed spulex followed by the running powerslam. Davey decides to cover, but a pier-six brawl breaks out, and Davis nails Smith with Jimmy Hart's megaphone, and covers for the pin at 8:52. Ouch. *** Good match. All logic pointed to Tito and the Bulldogs going over there since the Harts were already tag Champs and Davis deserved to get the snot beat out of him. The crowd booed the hell out of that finish.
Surprise, another blatant clipjob.
Koko B. Ware vs. "The Natural" Butch Reed
Ventura returns to the booth and says it was awesome being on the floor in front of all those people. No kidding. Reed punches and kicks a lot until Koko makes a decent comeback, but Reed rolls through a crossbody for the pin at 3:40. 1/2* After the match, Reed's manager, Slick, nails Koko with his cane, so Tito Santana, a previous victim of the same act, comes out to make the save and rips some of the Slickster's clothes off.
We're treated to a Randy Savage/Ricky Steamboat video package. Savage snapped in the middle of a match and destroyed Steamboat's larnyx with the help of a ringbell and repeated axehandles from the top rope to the arena floor. When Steamboat returned, he was NOT happy to say the least and when nuts on Savage. He recruited old Savage foe, George "The Animal" Steele to be in his corner for this upcoming match.
Intercontinental Title: Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat vs. Randy "Macho Man" Savage (Champion)
If you've never heard of this match before, I don't know where you've been. For years this was considered to be the hands down greatest match of all time. The WWF wouldn't see matches of this caliber again until Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels started to come into their own in the 90's. And wouldn't you know it, for this historic match, they have the nerve to clip out the entrances.
Steamboat and Savage start with a psychout and Steamboat hits his lightning quick armdrags, forcing Macho to bail. Steamboat chases him on the floor, so Savage rolls in and blitzes Steamboat as he tries to get in. Savage works the injured throat for awhile, but Steamboat toughs it out and goes right back to Savage's arm. Macho counters with an elbow, and tosses him to the floor. Savage measures his throat with elbows and gets a two count. Steamboat tries for a quick pin with a crossbody, but gets two. Steamboat goes nuts with a flurry of quick pinfall attempts and reversals until Savage slows him down with a high knee to the back. Macho tries to throw Steamboat to the floor, but the Dragon skins the cat and hops back in... where Savage is waiting for him, and repsonds with a clothesline to send him to the outside for real. He climbs out after him and another high knee sends Steamboat over the guard rail and into the crowd.
Steele helps him back in the ring, so Savage throws him out on the other side and connects with an axehandle from the top rope to the floor. Back in, Savage gets a two count with another top rope axehandle, then two more with his pattened ropeline, two more with an atomic drop, and two more with a suplex. He just can't put the Steamer away. Macho stifles a Dragon comeback and gets two with a gutwrench suplex. Steamboat flips out of a back suplex attempt, Savage charges, and Steamboat backdrops him out over the top and all the way to the floor. Huge bump. Jesse rants about how he should be DQ'ed for intentionally throwing someone over the top rope. Um, this is the WWF, Jess. We don't have that rule here.
Steamboat drags Savage back in, and now it's his turn to go through the offense. A chop off the top gets two, as Savage gets his foot on the ropes. The fans thought that was it; they had a collective heart attack when Hebner signaled two. In a great bit of psychology, Savage bails like he did earlier in the match, but this time when he tries to blitz Steamboat coming in, Ricky is ready with a shoulder, and sunset flips in for two. Steamboat goes nuts with the pinning combinations, doing everything he possibly can to try to put Savage away. A rollup gets two, as do a rollover, and a small package which the crowd again thought was the finish. Steamboat slingshots Savage into the post to get two, then Savage reverses a rollup for a two count of his own. A reversal sequence leads to a ref bump, and a Macho clothesline puts everyone down. Savage recovers, climbs to the top, and hits the Flying Elbow. He covers, but there's no ref, so he decides to inflict some more damage, and goes outside to grab the ring bell.
Steele tries to take it from him, but Savage kicks him away, so when he goes up top with the bell, Steele tosses him off. The ref, Steamboat, and Savage get to their feet at the same time, and Savage goes for a bodyslam but Steamboat holds on, rolls through, and cradles Savage for the pin and the Intercontinental Title at 14:46. What an unbelievable match. ***** Gorilla knew we'd just witnessed something special and knew he had to say something to capture the moment. He came up with: "If you live to be a hundred, you'll never see a match better than this." That's how good this match was, and that's how much the entire world loved it. Savage and Steamboat were actually punished backstage for having a match that was "too good" because officials thought that it overshadowed the main event.
Steamboat celebrates to a monster pop, having gained his revenge on Savage by taking away his Title. He'd go on to lose it two months later to the Honky Tonk Man, while hated heel Savage would turn face while feuding with Honky to regain the Title. Steamboat and Savage ended up on the same team at the first ever Survivor Series later that year. This match helped define Wrestlemania III, and remains a classic over a decade later.
Gene is with Jake "The Snake" Roberts and Alice Cooper, who is to be his special celebrity cornerman tonight.
Jake "The Snake" Roberts vs. Honky Tonk Man
Like I care about this match. On the plus side, the crowd is still hot. On the minus side, there's no way in hell they can come close to matching anything from the previous match. So far the only entrance we've gotten on this clipped tape is Piper's, so why do we get Jake's here? I'd rather have Savage's and Steamboat's. Jake jumps Honky at the bell, forcing Honky to bail, but Jake follows and beats on him out there too. A DDT attempt is countered, and Honky runs through some slow, boring offense. The Shake Rattle and Roll fails, and Jake comes back, but Jimmy Hart distracts him, and Honky scores a quick rollup for the three count. 7:04, 1/2* Major upset. Roberts chases Honky down the aisle, but poor Jimmy is left all alone in the ring, and Jake and Alice introduce him to Jake's snake, Damien. The crowd liked the extra-curricular activities, but the match itself was boring.
Vince McMahon interviews a fired up Hulk Hogan.
Gene is in the ring to announce that they've set a new indoor attendance record of 93,173. The Dome is now almost totally dark.
Prerecorded interview from the day before, as Craig DeGeorge is in the seats with Slick, Nikolai Volkoff, and the Iron Shiek. That wasn't on the WWF Home Video version, but then I don't think DeGeorge got on there at all. I wouldn't be surprised if they edited him out of everything he was ever in.
Killer Bees vs. Nikolai Volkoff & Iron Shiek
"Hacksaw" Jim Duggan interrupts Volkoff's singing of the Russian National Anthem prior to the start of the match. The Bees are really over for some reason, probably just because the crowd is getting antsy for Hogan by this point. The Bees double team like crazy to start, and Brunzell hits his beautiful dropkick, but then gets caught in the wrong corner. The usual heel beatdown follows, as Duggan starts a USA chant from the floor. He starts chasing Volkoff around ringside with his 2x4 for no reason, then follows him in the ring and nails the Shiek with it, giving the heels the DQ victory at 5:46. Well, that was pointless. *1/2.
Gene is with Andre The Giant and Bobby "The Brain" Heenan.
A prerecorded package of Craig DeGeorge interviewing local rubes about the main event is shown. Of those he speaks to, three fans are for Hogan, one for Andre. The day before, DeGeorge talked to Heenan. None of this was on the WWF Home Video version.
A package of the actual feud was shown. For years, Hogan and Andre were friends, but jealousy got the better of Andre. Andre was awarded a trophy for being undefeated for fifteen years, but then Hogan was given an even bigger trophy for being the Champion for three years. Andre took on Bobby Heenan as his manager and challenged Hogan to a Title match at Wrestlemania.
Next we see footage from the Wrestlemania III press conference from March 3. Heenan makes some funny jokes to canned laughter, the best of which is as follows:
Gene: ...for years Hulk Hogan looked up to Andre The Giant.
Heenan: That's because he's 7'5.
What might sound corny, Heenan can make funny. He goes on to state that he's having WWF President, Jack Tunney, make a new Title belt that's big enough to fit Andre.
Hogan comes in next, dressed in all black, something I'd never seen before 1996. He looks like Hollywood, only without the cheesy fake beard.
Gene is with Hulk Hogan, just minutes before the match.
WWF Title: Hulk Hogan (Champion) vs. Andre The Giant
Before the match, Howard Finkle introduces Bob Uecker as the guest ring announcer, and Ueck introdcues Mary Hart as the guest timekeeper. Andre is introduced first, and gets tons of garbage pelted his way. Hogan's music hits second, and the place erupts. Have you ever heard 93,173 people yell at the same time? It's loud. Hogan reaches the ring and we get the most famous staredown of all time as the two legendary figures come face to face (well, face to chest) in front of 93,173 screaming fans. This is the most important and legendary match in the history of the WWF. This is the reason everyone came to the Silverdome, this is the reason it's full, and this is the reason Wrestlemania III is one of the most famous events ever. Hogan and Andre do their final talking, and a slugfest erupts. Hogan goes for a bodyslam right off the bat and Andre falls on him. Referee Joey Marella counts one, two... it's over?! Nope, apparently Hogan was able to sneak out the back door before three. Andre thinks he's won it, and we have ourselves the famous phantom pinfall. Hogan is still alive, but he's seriously injured his back, and Andre takes advantage. He wears him down slowly, stops a comeback, and goes to a bearhug. The crowd rallies behind Hogan, as his arm drops twice, but not a third time. Hogan breaks the two and a half minute long hold, but Andre chops him right back down, and a boot sends him to the floor. Andre treis a headbutt, but ends up getting the steel post instead of Hogan. Hulk rips the mats off the floor and tries to piledrive the 520 pound Andre on the concrete. Yeah, right. Moron. Andre of course backdrops out into the single slowest, sloppiest, weakest, most poorly executed backdrop I've ever seen in my life. They climb in and Hogan explodes with a clothesline to send Andre down to the mat for the first time in his career. Hogan hulks up and bodyslams Andre, then drops the leg, and covers for three as the crowd goes absolutely nuts. Hogan retains his Title at 12:08, and Andre leaves a beaten man. Hogan celebrates for the fans, still WWF Champion. The match wasn't much as far as wrestling goes, I'd say about 1/4*, but the magnitude of the match is what filled the Silverdome and created the auora of this historic event.
Wrestlemania III is without doubt the most historic Wrestlemania of all time, which is why many consider it to be the best. Andre, a veteran whose life was complicated by health problems, was deteriorated to all hell by this point, but agreed to the feud and the match to do something for the fans and Vince McMahon one final time. In doing so, he became part of the most historic match ever, and could take with him for the rest of his life, that he and Hogan filled the Silverdome with those 93,173 fans.
Wrestlemania III not only boasted the most legendary match of all time in Hogan and Andre, but also the best match of all time (at the time) in the Steamboat/Savage Intercontinental Title Match. These two events, combined with the anticipation of it all, and the atmosphere of the unprecedented crowd, combine to make one of the best shows you'll ever see.
Wrestlemania III Key Stats
Total Wrestling: 82:58
Average Match: 6:55
Average Match Rating: *3/4
Top Moments: Hogan and Andre face to face, a ***** Steamboat/Savage classic, Piper's farewell, and admiring the crowd in general