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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 VII

March 24, 1991
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Venue: Los Angeles Sports Arena
Announced Attendance: 16, 158

*The Rockers defeated Haku and The Barbarian in a good power vs. agility style bout. This would end up being the Rockers' Wrestlemania swansong. The Rockers hit a double dropkick on Haku, setting up a Michaels flying bodypress for the pin. A really fun match.

*Texas Tornado Kerry Von Erich pinned Dino Bravo with the discus punch. Von Erich was making his Wrestlemania debut, the only member of the famous wrestling family to ever work the show.

*The British Bulldog Davey Boy Smith makes his singles Wrestlemania debut, pinning The Warlord with a running powerslam.

*The Nasty Boys, Brian Knobbs and Jerry Saggs defeated The Hart Foundation to win the WWF Tag Team championships after Saggs clobbers Jim Neidhart with a motorcycle helmet. The cameras catch then-child actor Macauley Culkin ("Home Alone") at ringside.

*Jake Roberts pinned Rick Martel with a DDT in a Blindfold match. Roberts had been blinded sometime earlier by Martel's perfume being sprayed in his eyes. The match consisted of Roberts pointing around the ring and when the crowd would erupt, he knew which direction Martel was in. If you watch Martel setting up the blindhold, you can see his hand through the mask.

*In his Wrestlemania debut, The Undertaker pinned Jimmy Snuka with a tombstone.

*In a bout where the loser would be "forced to retire", The Ultimate Warrior pinned Randy Savage. Elizabeth popped up for the first time in months in the crowd, being shown concerned as Randy was on the defensive. This was the best match on the show and one of the best in-ring performances of Warrior's career. Savage was working with a badly injured thumb to boot. Savage hit five flying elbows at one point, but Warrior kicked up. Warrior pinned Savage with a shoulderblock. Savage's manager Sherri Martel attacked him after the bout, with Elizabeth making the save. Savage and Elizabeth reconciled in a moment that actually had fans at ringside crying. Savage, for the first time ever, held the ropes open for Elizabeth in the trademark way that she would when he entered and left the ring. A big reaction for Savage that you would never see today since no one believes anyone ever retires. Savage would remain out of the ring until December 1991.

*Genichiro Tenryu and Koji Kitao defeated Demolition. What in the world were Tenryu and Kitao doing here? Well, Tenryu was the point person for the SWS promotion in Japan, which had a working agreement with WWF at the time. Regis Philban did an interview backstage squeezing the cheeks of the former sumo champion and the Japanese legend.

*The Big Bossman defeated WWF Intercontinental champion Mr. Perfect Bobby Heenan via DQ. The feud was based off of Bossman looking for revenge for Heenan and Rick Rude insulting his mother. Seriously. Heenan interferes, which brings out Andre the Giant as a surprise. Giant smacks Hennig with the championship belt. Bossman is attacked by the rest of Heenan's charges after hitting the Bubbaslam. This is a really good match.

*Earthquake pinned Greg Valentine in a short match with the Earthquake splash.

*The Legion of Doom, Hawk and Animal, defeat Power & Glory (Paul Roma and Hercules Hernandez) in about 10 seconds in their Wrestlemania debut.

Virgil defeated Ted DiBiase via countout. Roddy Piper managed Virgil, while on crutches after a hip replacement surgery. They claimed at the time it was a motorcycle accident. Sherri Martel hit the ring afterwards joining DiBiase in laying out Piper and Virgil as she would become DiBiase's new charge.

*The Mountie Jacques Rougeau pinned Tito Santana after zapping him with a cattle prod.

*Hulk Hogan pinned Sgt. Slaughter to win the WWF championship. Slaughter at the time was the Iraqi sympathizer during the height of the first Persian Gulf conflict, which was considered a poor promotional angle at the time. Hogan scored the pin after his legdrop. He bled a ton too. An entertaining bout. Slaughter was managed here by General Adnan.

Celebrities: Willie Nelson, decked in a Wrestlemania T-shirt and toy championship belt (!) sang America The Beautiful....Regis Philbin handled backstage interviews....Marla Maples was the guest timekeeper....Alex Trebek was a special guest ring announcer....Celebrities who were in attendance with their families and interviewed included Henry Winkler (who starred in wrestling comedy "The One and Only" way before he was Fonzie), Lou Ferigno (who would work briefly with the doomed WBF bodybuilding promotion run by Vince McMahon), and Chuck Norris (who would do an appearance for the company in 1993).

Notes: The original venue for the show was the 100,000 capacity Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, but it was not to be. Owing a move to "security issues" but more likely due to soft ticket sales, the venue was moved to the LA Sports Arena just a few weeks before the show. The promotion had to go into overdrive to exchange tickets from fans who had ordered them nationally. By the day of the show, there were still 5,000 tickets that needed to be exchanged. The fact that the new building had half of the ringside seats of the Coliseum only complicated matters worse....With the Hogan vs. Slaughter main event, the show was dubbed "Superstars & Stripes Forever"....They did a lot of advertising based around a caricature of Hogan wielding an American flag, which was seen on the side of buses nationally....Andre The Giant's cameo would be the final time the former WWF champion would appear on the Wrestlemania stage before his passing in January 1993.....Koko B. Ware pinned The Brooklyn Brawler in a dark match before the show went live on PPV.

Dave Scherer: All I remember looking back on this story was how tasteless it was for the WWF to book a story line around the very real conflict in Iraq. In his bizarre mind, Vince McMahon thought there was money in booking a storyline where an American hero turned and joined the country we were fighting, Iraq. He thought the angle would sell out the LA Coliseum. It backfired on McMahon when the backlash from people who found the angle tasteless led to them having to move the show to the much smaller Sports Arena. I remember being proud of wrestling fans for not buying into the lowlife storyline that Vince was trying to sell them and sending him a message that some things should not be trivialized in a wrestling angle. Now, whether he got the message or not is another matter altogether.

Mike Johnson: The angle behind the main event was pretty tasteless. At the time, WWF pretty much denied they were playing off the war but in Basil Devito's Wrestlemania book that came out in 2001, he admitted that the company backed off on it once the war broke out in Kuwait. The Hogan vs. Slaughter and Warrior vs. Savage matches were decent and there were some fun performances underneath with The Rockers, Big Bossman (who was great for his size), and Curt Hennig.

Jess McGrath: This was kind of a bizarre Mania. Everything was, and in looking back still is, overshadowed by the Persian Gulf War angle. I do remember that the build had a little juice to it until the war ended (on 3/9 of that year, I think) and then it instantly became an outdated thing. But basically people farted on it. I haven't watched Hogan-Slaughter since I saw it live on PPV, but I remember at the time thinking it was really long and really boring. I imagine I would like it better in retrospect. Also seem to remember the crowd wasn't with it at all until Hogan made the big comeback. The match of the night no doubt was Savage-Warrior. Awesome stuff, and again, second show in a row where the ULTIMATE WARRIOR, of all people, is in the best match of the night. Bossman-Hennig was also a really good match that nobody seems to remember.

Buck Woodward: To this day, I am amazed how Kerry Von Erich worked his whole WWF run with one foot missing. ... The blindfold match was absolutely horrible. I have never seen a good match with this gimmick, yet someone always tries to bring one back. ... If you ever want to know how to make someone look god-like, check out Savage-Warrior. Savage hits his finisher five times, and Warrior kicks out. I especially liked how Warrior had "Means More Than This" with a picture of the WWF Title belt on his trunks and robe. Since their feud started over Savage costing him the title, it made sense. ... I really would have perferred if Tenryu worked someone like Snuka or DiBiase. ... You can really trace the career of Hercules through Wrestlemanias. From competitive matches at II and III, to squashes, to total destruction on this one. ... The Virgil countout win on DiBiase was a smart move, as it kept the door open for rematches. ... There was never any doubt in my mind that Hogan would win the title. ... This was the first year that Mania went unopposed, after two years of being countered with a Clash Of Champions on TBS. That meant there was no tape to watch afterwards of a great Ric Flair match. ... I remember living on the East Coast, and not hearing a word about the venue change until turning the PPV on and thinking "Damn, the L.A. Coliseum sure is small".


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