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By Staff on 2011-04-03 09:13:00


March 27, 1988
Location: Atlantic City, New Jersey
Arena: Atlantic City Convention Center
Announced Attendance: 19,199


*Bad News Brown threw Bret Hart out of the ring to win an "Open Invitational" Battle Royal. Hart and Brown acted like they were going to split the win, but Brown hit Hart with his "ghetto blaster" (enziguiri) and tossed out Hart.  Hart came back to attack Brown and destroy the trophy for the match, turning Bret babyface for the first time in his WWF tenure.  This was the continuation of Brown's long undefeated record to set him up for house show runs late in the year against Randy Savage.

*In the first round of the WWF championship tournament, Ted DiBiase pinned Hacksaw Duggan with a fistdrop after Andre the Giant tripped him.  Andre's interference would turn into a major factor in the tournament during the final.

*In the first round of the WWF championship tournament, Don Muraco (managed by Superstar Graham in Graham's only Wrestlemania appearance), defeated Dino Bravo by disqualification when Bravo pulled the referee in front of him when Muraco hit a flying forearm. This was Muraco's last Wrestlemania appearance, during his final run with the company, where he worked babyface. Bravo was pushed heavily over the next few years before leaving the promotion.

*In the first round of the WWF championship tournament, Greg Valentine defeated Ricky Steamboat when Steamboat hit a flying bodypress and Valentine rolled through for the pin.  Steamboat was soon gone from WWF shortly afterwards.  One of the better bouts on the show.

*In the first round of the WWF championship tournament, Randy Savage pinned Butch Reed with the flying elbow.  Savage and Elizabeth each changed outfits for the following rounds.

*In the first round of the WWF championship tournament, The One Man Gang defeated Bam Bam Bigelow by countout when Slick pulled down the ropes and Bigelow crashed to the floor.  This was Bigelow's Wrestlemania debut.  He would go on to main event at Wrestlemania 11.

*In the first round of the WWF championship tournament, Rick Rude and Jake Roberts fought to a 15 minute draw.  This was a really dull bout that saw both men, and many of the live crowd, eliminated from the tournament.

*The Ultimate Warrior, in his Wrestlemania debut, pinned Hercules Hernandez.  The finish of the bout was Hernandez lock in his finisher, the full nelson (Billy Jack Haynes was long gone so Hernandez won last year's Wrestlemania feud by longevity and default), the Warrior pushed off the ropes and Hernandez was down for the count, locked in his own hold.  The Warrior was massively over and popular, even for this early point in his WWF tenure.

*In a Quarter-Final match of the WWF championship Tournament, Hulk Hogan fought Andre The Giant to a double DQ and were both eliminated from the tournament.  Ted DiBiase, who was managing Andre, brought a chair into the ring.  Hogan and Andre both used it and were disqualified.  Hogan would slam Andre after the match, and destroy DiBiase's valet Virgil as well.  

*In a Quarter-Final match of the WWF championship Tournament, Ted DiBiase uses a Hot Shot to pin Don Muraco.  DiBiase bumps like crazy during the match.  DiBiase earned a bye to the finals because of the Andre vs. Hogan bout.

*In a Quarter-Final match of the WWF championship Tournament, Randy Savage pinned Greg Valentine after reversing a small package. 

*Brutus Beefcake defeated WWF Intercontinental champion The Honkytonk Man via DQ.  HTM is accompanied by manager Jimmy Hart and "girlfriend" Peggy Sue (Sherri Martel in poodle skirt and blonde wig.)

*Bobby Heenan & The Islanders defeated The British Bulldogs & Koko B. Ware.  This was all set up when the Islanders kidnapped the Bulldogs' mascot Matilda. Heenan actually scored the pin here, setting him up for a house show run where he was "undefeated" before being booked against the Ultimate Warrior in bouts where the loser had to wear a weasel suit, which was an old gimmick Heenan did in the AWA.  It was the final Wrestlemania appearance for The Dynamite Kid.

*Jesse Ventura did a quick posedown for the live crowd. 

*In a semi-final bout for the WWF championship tournament, Randy Savage defeated The One Man Gang by DQ after Gang hit Savage with Slick's cane.

*Demolition defeated Strike Force to win the WWF Tag Team championships.  Strike Force was Tito Santana slipped into the Tom Zenk role when Zenk walked out on the Can-Am Connection deal with Rick Martel after being unhappy with his WWF situation.  Ax breaks Mr. Fuji's cane over Martel, setting up the pin.  The building loved Demolition, who as heels were being cheered similar to the early breakout part of Steve Austin's push as a heel.

*In the tournament final for the WWF championship, Randy Savage pinned Ted DiBiase with a flying elbow to become the "Undisputed" WWF champion.  DiBiase had Andre with him (Hogan had removed Virgil from the equation earlier in the show), so Savage sent Elizabeth to fetch Hulk Hogan.  Andre interfered several times, but the final time, he argued with the ref,  allowing Hogan to hit DiBiase in the back with a chair to give Savage the chance to hit his finisher.  For the first time since the birth of the modern day WWF, Hogan was not the champion.  They did a great tease for what would be next year's Wrestlemania main event, where Savage put Elizabeth on his shoulder to celebrate and Hogan, helping her up, was captured with his hand on her butt.  The footage would be used a year later for Savage to present as evidence of Hogan's jealousy.  That's advanced booking that would never be seen in today's WWE.

Notes: With the WWF championship vacant for the first time in the promotion's history, the show was built around the tournament to crown the new champion. The belt had been declared vacant following a live NBC match between former champion Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant in February. With the aid of a villainous evil referee (Earl Hebner, who would do his own villainy to Bret Hart years later), Andre captured the belt and then "sold it" to manager Ted DiBiase. Then-WWF President Jack Tunney declared it vacant, holding a tournament with Hogan and Andre meeting in the Second round....With 16 matches, this was among the longest Wrestlemanias ever....The show was a big letdown from the setting of the year before, especially without a standout match like Savage vs. Steamboat to blaze a trail into the spotlight....The show featured the Wrestlemania debut of future main eventer The Ultimate Warrior...Trump Plaza was a partner in the show and presented a number of family friendly events over the course of the weekend, including a 5K run down the Atlantic City Boardwalk (complete with Mr. Fuji cheating to take the lead), and a brunch event that continues to this day as part of the Wrestlemania festivities..Jesse Ventura and Gorilla Monsoon handled commentary.

Celebrities: Donald Trump, obviously was in the house, sitting ringside.  There is a famous story about his then-wife Ivana being spooked by Jake Roberts' snake as he came to the ring and spilling wine on herself.  She later reprimanded Trump's security guard for not shooting the snake, according to one story.....Robin Leach of "The Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous" TV show brought the WWF championship belt to the ring for a special announcement to kick off the championship tournament....Vanna White of Wheel of Fortune was brought in for segments to update PPV viewers on the standings of the workers in the tournament....Gladys Knight (no Pips) sang "America the Beautiful"....Bob Uecker was brought back for the second year in a row for backstage sketches and to ring announcer, the first celebrity to do so.  Pete Rose would eventually shatter his record.

Dave Scherer:  It was around this time that the WWF started to become totally unwatchable to me.  Even though this show was 20 miles from my house and I could have gotten in for free, I didn't go. I also didn't buy the PPV.  I watched it later, via videotape rental, and felt really good that I did not go out of my way to see it.  It was during this time period that "wrestling" meant nothing to the WWF at all.

Jess McGrath: This would probably be considered one of the low points in the Mania series, to be honest. The show was loooooong, and not really all that interesting. I will say, when Hogan and Andre were taken out of the tournament, it did give it a level of freshness because there was going to be a true new champion. But none of the tournament matches were better than average. Hogan-Andre 3 was far behind their first two meetings. And the Convention Center is such a huge building with terrible acoustics, that the crowd seemed dead for most of the night. We didn't even have PPV where I lived, so there was no choice between this and the NWA show. The NWA show was so much fun. My uncle, who did have PPV, taped Mania for me and dropped it off the next day. I remember it being clearly several notches below the NWA show.

Buck Woodward: Wrestlemania IV was the site of the first annual "Buck saves money by having a lot of friends over to chip in for the PPV and food party". Actually, that's not entirely true, as I wasn't called Buck then. ... This show is an example of how things change for a fan. Today, a "Internet fan" would know that Bam Bam Bigelow was going for knee surgery soon, and that Ricky Steamboat was ending his run in the company that night. Back then, they were two of the favorites to go forward in the first round, especially with the possibility of a Steamboat-Savage rematch and the fact that Bigelow had been given a monster push since the first Survivor Series the previous November. ... I thought it was bizarre that while Miss Elizabeth had four dress changes, Vanna White wore the same ugly dress all night. ... Why the hell would One Man Gang blatantly use Slick's cane in front of the referee and get disqualified? That made no sense whatsoever. OMG was dominating the match, and blew it. ... I always liked the idea of a battle royal on Wrestlemania, as it gave more guys a few minutes of face time on the show. ... I watched the Clash Of The Champions afterwards, and the Midnight Express-Fantastics and Flair-Sting matches were so much better than anything else on this Wrestlemania. ... My friends and I were overjoyed when Hogan didn't advance in the tournament. We were sick of him at that point, and were really hoping for Bigelow, Savage or Steamboat to win the title. Hogan was smart in taking a sabbatical soon after this.

Mike Johnson: At the time, the idea of the tournament was something that was just shocking and fresh because of the value of Hogan being removed from the equation. There was a sense of real amazement and excitment because there was going to be a new champion and it wasn't Hogan, but nothing underneath that feeling to support the show as extraordinary....The usage of Steamboat was a surprise to me, as I thought we would see a babyface rematch of last year's Wrestlemania....It should be noted that the NWA vs. WWF war of the time was already ongoing as TBS presented a live Clash of the Champions special. That show was just plain awesome, did great business in the ratings and obviously hurt the buyrate of the Wrestlemania show. I know that I watched the Clash live and then ordered the 11 PM replay of the WWF PPV. There wasn't much on this Wrestlemania show that stands the test of time other than the historical first title win for Savage, who was a hot draw for the WWF house shows over the next year. I also remember the attention to detail as the week after the PPV, when DiBiase was cutting promos talking about Wrestlemania, Virgil just glared at him from the background, obviously angry about being left behind to be destroyed by Hogan...For those wondering where the mighty Hulkster went after the show, he and Vince McMahon were deep in pre-production for the cinematic orgasm known as "No Holds Barred."

Chris Kanyon on Sneaking into the Atlantic City Convention Center as a Fan After Wrestlemania IV: "Well, after WrestleMania IV, at 4 am, after all my friends had gone to sleep (or passed out lol, Dan O', Pass, Fish, Mike and Joe), I snuck into the Trump Plaza where WrestleMania had just taken place hours before, and to my surprise, the arena was well-lit, empty and the ring was still set up. I couldn't believe it: I was Rocky. Well, not exactly, but I kinda felt like him. So, I went all the way up to where the wrestlers came out, and just like Hulk Hogan had done 6 hours earlier, "I walked down that aisle" pointing out at the non-existent fans, flexing my 15 inch pythons, and feeling that I belonged there. That this was my destiny. That someday, I would be going to WrestleMania, not as a fan, but as a Pro Wrestler. Fifteen years later, that is exactly what I am doing. Man, am I a lucky, lucky guy. So there I am, in an empty arena, in the middle of the ring at 4 am, feeling no pain and feeling no fear. But something is missing. What could it be? I need something. A SOUVENIR!!!! I feel, at the time, that I need something, ya know, to remember this moment. What an ass!!! I would remember this moment for the rest of my life with or without a keepsake. But there, in Atlantic City, at 4 am, in the middle of the WrestleMania IV ring, I felt I needed a memento. First I look up at the HUGE WrestleMania banner hanging from the rafters (it had to be at least 75-100 feet long and 30 feet wide). Even in my condition, at 4 am, I knew I could never get that down and out of the building without being noticed. I needed something smaller, something easier to grab and hide. I need a TURNBUCKLE!!!!! Well, actually, it is called a turnbuckle pad, but from the moment that I untied it, stuffed it in my shirt and carried it out of that building, that top turnbuckle pad that Randy Savage had jumped off of in the main event of Wrestlemania IV and missed Ted DiBiase, became forever known as Vincent T. Buckle (Savage ultimately climbed to the opposite turnbuckle pad and hit the elbow drop to win the title). And to this day, I still have it." ( commentary, March 2001

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