Wednesday, March 13, 2024

The History of WWE WrestleMania: VII

It's a Star-Spangled a tiny venue....

L.A. Sports Arena - 3/24/91

The seventh installment ended up being one of the most forgettable.  What was intended to be a record-smashing supershow in front of 100,000 fans at the L.A. Coliseum was relegated to the 15,000-seat Sports Arena when ticket sales fell horribly short of expectations.  That will happen though when your main event is little more than the exploitation of a minor real-life skirmish in the Middle East.  Why the WWF thought the US vs. Iraq angle would draw big business I'm not sure, especially since the real conflict ended over a month before WrestleMania.

Sgt. Slaughter was inexplicably brought in as a turncoat and almost immediately handed the WWF Title at the Royal Rumble, all so he could face the American Hero Hulk Hogan.  Surely a Hogan vs. Warrior rematch would've drawn the numbers they wanted, so I'm still unclear why they didn't go that route.

The match was what it was.  It certainly could've been worse, but it definitely wasn't good.  It's widely considered one of, if not THE worst all-time WrestleMania main event.  Slaughter was about as unworthy a WWF Champion as there's ever been and it was a sad day indeed when Hulk Hogan is by far the better worker in a given match.  This meandering brawl lasted over 21 minutes before Hogan mercifully put an end to the proceeding with the ol' big boot-legdrop combo.  Sadly this didn't even end the feud, as it stretched on and off until SummerSlam.  Christ almighty.....

Yep.  Can't imagine why this didn't sell 100,000 tickets.

'Mania 7 was saved however by the semi-main event of Randy Savage vs. The Ultimate Warrior, with the stipulation that the loser would have to retire.  This feud had been brewing for several months while Warrior was WWF Champion, but Savage was battling nagging injuries and was thus unable to compete for a while.  Though I don't consider this match nearly as great as most do, it was easily one of the WWF's best of 1991.  This match paved the way for the overuse of finishers in big matchups (see Austin vs. Rock).  Savage hit five flying elbow smashes in a row and failed to get the pin, and the Warrior finally won after three flying tackles.  Post-match Savage's manager Sherri Martel attacked him, having lost her meal ticket due to the retirement stip.  Who should come to Savage's rescue but Miss Elizabeth, much to the delight and tears of the crowd.  Savage would spend the next several months as a commentator before returning to action that November.
The rest of the card once again featured too many wrestlers in too many matches, but had a few minor standouts - The Hart Foundation got a solid match out of The Nasty Boys (one of my least favorite teams ever), The Rockers had a strong opener with Haku & The Barbarian, and The Undertaker went 1-0 against Jimmy Snuka (The Streak begins!).  One of the more baffling matchups was Demolition's final match against Tenryu & Kitao, two stars from Japan who beat Smash & Crush and then disappeared from WWF TV.  I'm not sure why this match was even on the card.  Also Mr. Perfect defended the I-C Title against The Big Bossman, with whom he seemed to have zero chemistry, and Jake Roberts had an excruciating Blindfold Match against Rick Martel.

This should've been the main event

'Mania 7 is definitely an entry that didn't at all feel like the biggest show of the year.  The ordinary arena setting didn't help, nor did the inclusion of a main event match few people wanted to see.  This show is remembered for only one match, and it's Savage vs. Warrior.

Best Match: Randy Savage vs. Ultimate Warrior
Worst Match: Jake Roberts vs. Rick Martel (Ya know for a good wrestler Jake's had some real stinkers at 'Mania)
What I'd Change: I'll sound like a broken record here, but cut some of the matches!  When you have two matches under two minutes, that's probably a good indication that there's too much going on.
Most Disappointing Match: Legion of Doom vs. Power & Glory - I was really looking forward to this one going in, and instead I got a one-minute squash.
Most Pleasant Surprise: The Rockers vs. Barbarian & Haku
Overall Rating: 5/10

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