In the build-up to Wrestlemania 32, the Flickering Myth writers look back at previous instalments of the ‘Showcase of the Immortals’.
The Can-Am Connection vs. Bob Orton Jr. & Don Muraco w/Mr. Fuji
Billy Jack Haynes vs. Hercules w/Bobby Heenan (Double Count-Out)
King Kong Bundy, Lord Littlebrook & Little Tokyo vs. Hillbilly Jim, Haiti Kid & Little Beaver
‘King’ Harley Race w/Fabulous Moolah & Bobby Heenan vs. Junkyard Dog (Loser Must Bow Match)
‘The Dream Team’ Greg Valentine & Brutus Beefcake w/Johnny V vs. The Rougeau Brothers
Roddy Piper vs. Adrian Adonis w/Jimmy Hart (Hair vs. Hair Match)
The British Bulldogs & Tit Santana vs. The Hart Foundation & Danny Davis
Koko B. Ware vs. ‘The Natural’ Butch Reed w/Slick
Randy Savage w/Miss Elizabeth vs. Ricky Steamboat w/George ‘The Animal’ Steele
Jake Roberts w/Alice Cooper vs. The Honky Tonk Man w/Jimmy Hart
The Killer Bees w/Jim Duggan vs. The Iron Sheik & Nikolai Volkoff w/Slick
WWF TITLE MATCH: Hulk Hogan (C) vs. Andre The Giant w/Bobby Heenan
To be completely honest from the start, low-points are few and far-between at Wrestlemania 3. Such was the high-standard of the show, that the follow complaints veer a lot closer to nit-picking than legitimate problems.
One such qualm would be the match between ‘King’ Harley Race and Junkyard Dog. The ‘Loser Must Bow’ match stemmed from Race’s recent King of the Ring victory (hence the moniker) and his subsequent feud with JYD.
In a critical sense, there are a couple of issues with this match that could have been rectified. Firstly, the fact that it only lasted 3 minutes. Considering the legendary worker that Harley Race was, and just how iconic the Junkyard Dog character was, you’d think that they’d be given a little more time to perform on a stage as grand as Wrestlemania. I understand that timing is crucial on a live event such as this, but I’m sure many of the fans would have rather had time shaved off other segments in the show, in order to give these two more to play with.
Secondly, the result seems a little peculiar in hindsight. Both men were established stars and respected workers, so neither had masses to gain from another push. With that being said, it seems strange that the choice was made to have the conniving Race going over the lovable JYD. I know wrestling can’t (and shouldn’t) be all about happy endings, but this just seems like it could have been a feel-good moment for fans, particular given the match stipulation.
The vast majority of the Wrestlemania 3 car is packed with quality, however there are to irrefutable stand-out matches that need to be mentioned.
Firstly, there’s the absolute wrestling clinic between ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage and Ricky ‘The Dragon’ Steamboat. To truly understand the significance of this bout, you only have to listen to any number of modern-day superstars talk about their influences. The likes of Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Steve Austin, and many more have all singled-out this match as one of the reasons they got into the industry.
Steamboat and savage had a red-hot feud going into the show, second only to the main event. Savage excelled in the heel role, while ‘The Dragon’ was the eternal underdog babyface throughout his decorated career. The technicality of this match is awe-inspiring, while both men’s in-ring psychology is immaculate. It just goes to show; if you get the story-telling right, a simple Small package pin can outshine the flashiest of finishes.
If Savage vs. Steamboat was saturated with technical proficiency, then Wrestlemania 3’s main even was the pinnacle in larger-than-life spectacle. In what is still considered one of the most iconic professional wrestling matches of all time, Hulk Hogan faced Andre the Giant.
The build-up was expertly done, with a slow-building tension culminating with Andre betraying Hogan on an unforgettable episode of Piper’s Pit, aligning himself with Bobby Heenan in the process. Hogan was at the very height of his ‘Real American’ fandom, whilst Andre was a true physical phenomenon.
The match itself was non-stop drama from bell to bell. Despite Andre’s lack of athletic mobility, he and The Hulkster were able to tell a story that sent the entire Silver Dome on an emotional rollercoaster (not to mention the people watching at home). To this day, the image of Hogan finally Body Slamming his enormous foe is one that packs a wallop.
The reasons that Wrestlemania 3 is still held in such high esteem are both valid and plentiful. In fact, as you can probably tell, it was something of a difficulty to pick out any ‘Lows’. Many consider this to be one of the very best instalments of WWE’s flagship pay-per-view.
The production problems and convoluted schedule that hindered Wrestlemania 2 had been thoroughly ironed out, and the hype surrounding the main event was a masterclass in wrestling promotion. The fact that this event hosted TWO of the undisputed greatest matches of all time is enough to garner acclaim alone, but the fact that they were supported by an excellent undercard cement Wrestlemania 3 as a must-see.
Jackson Ball – Follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn