In the build-up to WrestleMania 32, the Flickering Myth writers look back at previous installments of the ‘Showcase of the Immortals’…
20-Battle Royal (Won by Bad News Brown)
*Hacksaw Jim Duggan vs. Ted Dibiase w/Virgil & Andre the Giant
*Don Muraco w/’Superstar’ Billy Graham vs. Dino Bravo w/Frenchie Martin
*Greg Valentine vs. Ricky Steamboat
*Randy Savage w/Miss Elizabeth vs. ‘The Natural’ Butch Reed w/Slick
*One Man Gang w/Slick vs. Bam Bam Bigelow
*Rick Rude w/Bobby Heenan vs. Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts (Draw)
The Ultimate Warrior vs. Hercules w/Bobby Heenan
*Hulk Hogan vs Andre the Giant w/*Ted Dibiase & Virgil (Double DQ)
*Don Muraco w/’Superstar’ Billy Graham vs. Ted Dibiase
*Randy Savage w/Miss Elizabeth vs. Greg Valentine
IC Title Match: The Honky Tonk Man vs. Brutus Beefcake (Win by DQ)
The British Bulldogs & Koko B. Ware vs. The Islanders & Bobby Heenan
*Randy Savage w/Miss Elizabeth vs. One Man Gang w/Slick
WWF Tag Title Match: Demolition vs. Strike Force
WWF TITLE MATCH: Randy Savage w/Miss Elizabeth vs. Ted Dibiase w/Andre the Giant
*indicates tournament match.
There are, unfortunately, quite few low-points and problems across the entire card of WrestleMania IV.
The biggest issue, and perhaps the source of the majority of ‘lows’, is the poorly-executed tournament angle that the whole event centred around. The storyline leading into the event was that the WWF Title was made vacant, after Andre the Giant controversially dethroned Hogan, before handing the belt to Ted Dibiase. This meant that a 16-Man tournament was announced for the ‘Grandest Stage of Them All’.
In theory, a tournament sounds like quite an interesting idea, made even more intriguing by the high-standard of stars that were selected to compete. Unfortunately, as is the case with randomly seeded tournaments, this all but eliminated the scope for personal grudge matches or any bouts with a back-story that the crowd could get emotionally invested in. Even Andre vs. Hogan (a rematch of last year’s electric main event) couldn’t generate the same sort of magic.
Vince and company clearly wanted to have their cake and eat it with this card, as they filled it with tournament matches as well as the usual undercard you’d expect from a live event. An Intercontinental Title match, a Tag Title match, a 6-man tag match, a filler match and a 20-man battle royal meant that pretty much the entire roster were jostling for the spotlight, but given very little match time to do it.
Disappointingly, genuine highlights were hard to come by at WrestleMania IV. That being said, the main event did manage to deliver a handful of thrills.
In their previous tournament matches, Randy Savage had a much tougher time of things than Dibiase, which helped generate a great deal of sympathy and heat respectively. The match itself was never going to live up to Savage’s classic against Ricky Steamboat at the previous year’s ‘Mania, but it was still a solid effort. The Million Dollar Man’s in-ring work is often underappreciated, but it was of a consistent standard here.
As was often the case during this period, Hulk Hogan was callously shoehorned into the main event picture, and had a significant impact on the match’s finish.
To put it bluntly, WrestleMania IV was a mess. Overly-dull and overly-complicated, the tournament for the vacant WWF title was something of a shambles.
On paper, the card sounds like an exciting one: Hogan vs. Andre, Steamboat vs. Valentine and Rude vs. Robert are all examples of matches that ought to be phenomenal… but they just weren’t on the night. The tournament featured too many convoluted ‘twists’, while the rest of the card was crammed with unnecessary filler. Even the most devoted pro wrestling fan would struggle to muster excitement after SIXTEEN matches.
There were sprinkles of brilliance, and the lasting memory of Savage as champion is a happy one, but a lack of excitement and poor booking decisions meant that WrestleMania IV was a forgettable edition of WWE’s flagship.
Jackson Ball – Follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn