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WRESTLEMANIA RETRO LOOKS BACK AT TWENTY-SIX YEARS OF WRESTLEMANIA HISTORY

By PWInsider.com Staff on 2011-04-03 09:13:00

WRESTLEMANIA III

March 29, 1987

Location: Pontiac, Michigan
Arena: The Pontiac Silverdome
Announced Attendance: 93,173 (See Attendance Note Below)

RESULTS

*The Can-Am Connection, Rick Martel and Tom Zenk, defeated Don Muraco and Bob Orton when Martel hit a highcross body on Muraco for the pin.  Muraco and Orton were managed by Mr. Fuji.  The Can-Ams were scheduled to have a huge push over the next year, which was derailed when Zenk walked out on the promotion.

*Hercules Hernandez fought Billy Jack Haynes to a double countout while Haynes had a full nelson locked on Hercules, they fell out of the ring and Haynes kept it locked on as the referee counted.  The Hernandez-Haynes feud was built around the idea of who had the stronger full nelson, and was the highlight of Haynes' WWF career.

*In a mix tag match, Hillbilly Jim & midgets the Haiti Kid & Little Beaver defeated King Kong Bundy & Lord Little Brook & Little Toyko via DQ when Bundy attacked, bodyslammed, and squashed Beaver.  The storyline was that the midgets could only work against each other.  This was pure comedy and a major comedown from the year before for Bundy when he was headlining the event.

*In a match where the loser had to bow to the winner, Harley Race (then-promoted as the King of Wrestling) pinned The Junkyard Dog with a belly-to-belly suplex.  The feud had been built around JYD's refusal to get on his knees before Race.  JYD did bow (like a actor would at the end of a play) before Race, then attacked him.  Race would later be coronated the King again by The Fabulous Moolah.  There were plans for British pop star Samantha Fox to do the coronation at one point, but she pulled out.

*Greg Valentine and Brutus Beefcake defeated Jacques and Raymond Rougeau in their farewell as a team in WWF.  Dino Bravo and Johnny Valiant were at ringside for the Dream Team, setting up Bravo interfering and hitting Raymond to set up a Valentine pin.  Beefcake is abandoned in the ring by his former allies.  This had been set up in the weeks prior during a six man tag when Adrian Adonis had accidentally cut Beefcake's hair (see Piper vs. Adonis) to set up a Beefcake babyface turn, which was really successful. 

*In his "retirement match", Roddy Piper used a sleeperhold to defeat Adrian Adonis.  This was also a hair vs. hair match.  Piper and Adonis had been feuding for months.  Piper had returned to the WWF to find Adonis had taken the TV slot for his Piper's Pit with "The Flower Shop" and had usurped Piper's old bodyguard Bob Orton as well.  The feud was an excellent one, with Piper declaring that "win, lose, or draw" he would retire.  One of the three major highlights of Wrestlemania 3, Piper ran the long aisle to ring, as opposed to the small ringcarts (shaped like wrestling rings) that were used to bring everyone else to the ring. This was a hair vs. hair match with Roddy telling Adrian that he was "growing it out" in the weeks prior while Adrian began cutting the hair of enhancement talent he squashed along the way.  Adrian accidentally cut the hair of Brutus Beefcake along the way, setting up Beefcake to hit the ring and revive Piper after a sleeper was locked on him.  Brutus helped cut Adonis' hair after the match, setting him off on his new career path as babyface Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake.  A great Wrestlemania segment!

*The Hart Foundation and Danny Davis defeated The British Bulldogs & Tito Santana when Davis pinned Smith after clocking him with Jimmy Hart's megaphone.  Davis, a former heel referee, was making his "in-ring debut" after screwing both Santana and The Bulldogs out of championships in the past.  Dynamite Kid was hurting here but everyone else was working hard and DK worked harder hurt than most who were healthy. 

*Butch Reed pinned Koko B. Ware by hooking the tights on a rollup and following through.  This would mark the Wrestlemania debut of both men as well as manager Slick.

*Ricky Steamboat defeated Randy Savage to win the WWF Intercontinental championship in the first "great Wrestlemania match."  Steamboat had George Steele in his corner while Elizabeth was in Savage's.  This grudge match had been built for months on end with Savage driving a ring bell into Steamboat's throat after Rocky obviously had him beat for the belt.  For the next few months, they built up Steamboat's return to the ring.  A tremendous match that still stands out today despite the evolution of the business.  During a time when the promotion was built around characters, the work ethic of this match was the greatest seen to date on the Wrestlemania stage.  The second of the "three great moments" of the night.  A must see bout for fans of great wrestling.  Steamboat had a short IC reign (he always had more steam as challenger than champion), while Savage headed for a babyface turn and Wrestlemania main events.

*The Honkytonk Man pinned Jake Roberts, using the ropes for leverage.  Rock star Alice Cooper was in Jake Roberts' corner here and they teased he would fight manager Jimmy Hart afterward but Hart ended up with Damien the snake atop of him.  This upset set up HTM for his huge run as Intercontinental champion which would start in just several months from this show.

*The Killer Bees, Brian Blair and Jim Brunzell lost to The Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff by DQ when Hacksaw Duggan hit the ring with his trusty 2 x 4 and hit the Sheik as he captured Brunzell in a camel clutch.

*In the "third great moment" of the show, WWF champion Hulk Hogan pinned Andre the Giant following a bodyslam and a legdrop.  Andre had been billed and promoted as the indestructible  foe, with WWF going as far as to commission a new championship belt that could fit the Giant's huge frame.  The visuals of Andre riding in the cart to the ring with manager Bobby Heenan as they are pelted with endless amounts of garbage and Hogan doing his distinct walk to the ring are tremendous Mania moments.  They built early that Hogan couldn't life Andre including a near pin when Andre collapsed on Hogan during a bodyslam attempt.  In reality, Andre wasn't in the best health at that point and the match isn't pretty to watch, but at the time, every WWF fan believed it to be an amazing story.  Nothing will ever match this in terms of hype, interest, and payoff.

Celebrities: Bob Uecker was the guest ring announcer while Mary Hart was the guest timekeeper.  They were also involved in backstage sketches....Aretha Franklin opened the show with "America The Beautiful."

Attendance Note: While WWE has long held steadfast to the live attendance figure of 93,173, the late Zane Bresloff, who handled local promotions for the event, has been quoted as saying the attendance was actually 78,000.

Notes: Vince McMahon opened the show, welcoming fans to the ring, which would turn into a Wrestlemania tradition for years to come until the development of the Mr. McMahon heel character...Jesse Ventura and Gorilla Monsoon handled commentary for the show....The show was a huge success for the early days of Pay-Per-View, setting up the WWF with power that no other wrestling company could touch for years within the cable industry.  Well, not until Ted Turner bought WCW, anyway....To this day, this is the Mania that all others will be judged from, as it was the greatest success in the history of the company.  More shows may and have been more profitable, others have been better from an in-ring standpoint, but none will match the pure hype and synergy of this event.  It was the promised land for professional wrestling....The promotion actually tried to get Arnold Schwarzenegger for the show, with Vince McMahon, Dick Ebersol (NBC Executive and close confidante of the McMahons), and Jesse Ventura going to the set of the feature film Predator to sway him in South America, but a deal wasn't able to be struck.

Tom Zenk on Opening Wrestlemania III: "They wanted us to start off Wrestlemania III with a hot match. I think we had 5 minutes and 30 seconds with a little cutesy finish. Who pinned them? - Martel of course! Everything was on cue and we did all the spots. A few weeks before Wrestlemania, the WWF hooked up teams that were going to wrestle at the big event to make them comfortable working with each other when the big day came, and also to allow them to work out some high spots for the match. Anyway Orton and I became friends inside and outside the ring because I kept my mouth shut and listened. We also partied on occasion and I think, among most of the boys, I had no heat because I was humble and liked to party with the heels. Orton was a great guy, a great technician, a guy that I respected and liked as a person, a guy who accepted me and helped me in the ring, a second generation man who took the time to help me perfect my craft, as well as taking care of me in the ring. And someone I liked to shoot pool with! Don Muraco - another great guy, funny too, again always took care of my body in the ring.... I got $10,000. Other guys in bad matches got $20,000. They even paid Mary Hart more. I asked Rick "How much do you get paid". "Uh, the same as you." Then I heard from the other guys what he really got paid. Between us we should have received $100,000. I never had any problem with Vince - he was a good pay-off man - but he still owes me." (TomZenk.com Interview)

King Kong Bundy on Wrestling Midgets at Wrestlemania III: That was a ridiculous match. It's funny, though. That match got me on more TV sports shows, probably more than anyone else at any WrestleMania. (March 2003, Slam! Wrestling)

B. Brian Blair on Wrestlemania III: "Biggest moment of my career. I remember going to the top of the Silverdome and looking down and asking myself, "why would someone want to sit way up here when the people look so small." But then again you have to remember being there is a great feeling itself and feel the excitement in the crowd. It was a great feeling I'll never forget. I still have the press kit. Looking at the press kit gives me goosebumps." (Internet Chat, Slam! Wrestling, May 2001)

Roddy Piper on Wrestlemania III: "In Pontiac Silverdome, what made it special is they had these rings to travel to the ring. When it was my turn up to bat, the ring-thing broke, and Junior was there, and said, 'Wait, Hot Rod, wait.' I said, 'No, I'm going.' When I ran down the aisle, as opposed to being pampered down, the audience rose to its feet in a deafening ovation. It was the closest I felt, during a match, to the fans" (Slam! Wrestling chat, November 2000)

Dave Scherer: After the stinker of WrestleMania 2, Mania 3 was the exact opposite. It was a supershow that was actually super. Who can forget the Steamboat-Savage match? While it went against the grain of what the WWF was at that time, it was also something that made the WWF stand up and take notice that their fans would react to, gasp, wrestling!

Jess McGrath: Whatever misses there were for the WWF on the first two Manias, they more than made up for it with this one. For atmosphere alone, this was out of this world. At that point in time, there had only been one show to even come close to the crowd size of this one, and that was the WWF's house show in Toronto the previous year with Hogan vs. Orndorff. The one thing I remember really getting over the idea that Hogan might actually lose was the giant WWF belt. The promotion had a giant-sized title belt made up, which they showed on TV a few weeks before Mania, that they said Andre would get if he won the title, since obviously the belt Hogan wore would be too small for him. This was a true stroke of genius. The in-ring highlight was obviously Steamboat vs. Savage. And while it doesn't really stand the test of time next to the Flair-Steamboat matches that followed two years later, or the Wrestlemania X matches, it was a classic at the time, and compared to what WWE was doing then, it wasn't even in the same league. While there were some matches that I wouldn't consider "great" or even "good" on the show, the good far outweighed the bad.

Mike Johnson: The Pontiac Silverdone shook as Hulk Hogan bodyslammed Andre the Giant, but the roar was truly the force of the WWF hype machine as the promotion created the original Dome show event in the United States, the event that all future Wrestlemanias would be forced to compete with in the memories of fans worldwide. Visually, this is a great show to watch.  The atmosphere of the show is just amazing.  Steamboat vs. Savage had a match that wouldn't be touched all the way until Wrestlemania 10 and even then this is considered as good as those bouts.  Hogan vs. Andre was classic David vs. Goliath booking as fans truly believed Hogan was going to lose.  The storyline was built up perfectly.  In an age where retirements were overdone nationally, Piper got to have an amazing sendoff.  The fans were going to miss him and it showed, with one fan hopping in the ring to hug him after.  The late Adonis did an amazing job as well, the highlight of his career, which would end just a year or so later tragically in a car crash.  The bad was short, the good was fine, and the great was great.  This is worth picking up and if WWE ever puts this out on DVD, they have a gold mine waiting as there was tons of fun stuff underneath from a storyline standpoint as well.

Buck Woodward: Wrestlemania III is the event that will probably never be touched. In this day and age of monthly PPV events, there can never be the kind of build up that this event had. EVERYTHING was focused on this. The show did a really good job of climaxing some feuds (Piper-Adonis, Savage-Steamboat, Roberts-Honky Tonk), starting new ones (Santana-Reed, Beefcake-Dream Team, Hacksaw-Sheik & Volkoff), and continuing others (Haynes-Hercules, Hogan-Andre, Bulldogs-Harts). ... After going way overboard with Wrestlemania II, they stayed away from celebrities this time, with only Uecker (who is actually a fan) and Hart being involved in the show itself, and it was minimal in both cases. ... From what I understand, Piper wasn't supposed to walk to the ring, as WWF only wanted Hogan to walk out, while everyone else used the carts. ... I was (and still am) a huge Andre fan, and I remember screaming at the screen when Andre apparently pinned Hogan a minute into the match after the failed bodyslam attempt. I still think Andre should have won right then. ... Steamboat and Savage were so determined to steal the show, that they actually planned out their entire match, and numbered each move and sequence. For weeks before the show, they would quiz each other by shouting out a number, and the other person would have to recite every spot from that point on in the match. ... As with 90% of all hair matches held outside of Memphis, the electric razor didn't work right, so Brutus hacked off the hair with scissors. Later, Adrian did have his head shaved completely bald, but left the company soon after. ... At the time, not knowing about Paul Orndorff's nerve problem, I thought it was strange that he wasn't on the show, especially since less than a year before, he and Hogan were doing sellout business everywhere. Back then, there wasn't an Internet to let us know the things that WWF neglected to tell us. ... This was also a good example of "spreading out the good stuff", something that hadn't been done on previous supercards. Instead of building from meaningless undercard to important feuds to main events, this show saw them place what would be considered undercard matches in between the feature bouts, allowing the fans to have a break and recharge between the matches they really cared about.


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