Meaning to find a theme for this blog for awhile. I’ve done show reviews, DVD reviews, my own personal thoughts. But I like history in wrestling. I like looking back and telling a story of what could have been, breaking kayfabe of course.
What a perfect place to start than WrestleMania IV.
WrestleMania IV in 1988 could arguably go down as one of the worst WrestleManias of all time. It was over four hours long and a staggering 16 matches total. But their was an interesting story surrounding this event. Many stories intertwined.
Let’s backtrack a bit. Hulk Hogan entered 1988 as the WWF Champion.
However, he was slated to take time off after being on top for four years and was going to star in “No Holds Barred.” By this time, they had turned “Macho Man” Randy Savage babyface and were grooming him for the WWF Intercontinental Title, which was being held by The Honky Tonk Man, and to be the top babyface in Hogan’s absence.
Hogan would drop the title, controversially, to Andre The Giant on a live edition of The Main Event that aired on NBC in prime time. It drew one of the largest TV audiences in WWF history, 33 million to be exact, even though promotional media already put out that WrestleMania IV would crown a new champion. And you can’t forget the great Hebner Twins angle that cost Hogan the title in the first place. Andre sold the title to “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase, who even made a few “defenses” on house shows before WWF President Jack Tunney stripped him of the title because you just can’t buy titles. Unfortunately for DiBiase, those shows drew poorly with him “on top” so that didn’t help his case.
Vince McMahon had been building DiBiase to be the heir to Hogan’s throne, though, in his absence and win the title at WrestleMania IV in the tournament final. Instead, The Honky Tonk Man pulled a power play. He refused to drop the title to Savage and threatened to jump to Jim Crockett Promotions with the title if he was forced into doing the honors. Vince then went with an alternate plan, and that was to have Savage go over DiBiase in the WrestleMania IV final.
The top graphic was the original bracketing. Savage and DiBiase could have met in the semi finals. Once Honky Tonk Man pulled his bullshit, they went with the second/bottom graphic that can be seen on the WWE Network for $9.99.
Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat later said that none of the wrestlers were told of their finishes or who was going over ahead of time and he was assuming he’d go over Greg “The Hammer” Valentine in the first round, since he was regulated to tag team wrestling by this point, and have a WrestleMania III rematch with Savage in the second round. That wasn’t the case, since Steamboat had given notice and was on his way out and jobbed to Valentine in just about five minutes.
So, we ended up with the great build up to the following year’s WrestleMania, which saw Hulk Hogan upend Randy Savage for his second WWF Title reign. DiBiase ended up getting the Million Dollar Belt as a consolation prize. And The Honky Tonk Man became the longest reigning Intercontinental Champion of all time, before being squashed by The Ultimate Warrior at the first SummerSlam that August in Madison Square Garden. Of course, it’s not without some controversy here as WWF Magazine subscribers got the WrestleMania IV result a week before the PPV aired, spoiling who won it all.
Another story going into this event was Jim Crockett Promotions running their first Clash Of The Champions head to head with WrestleMania IV. For free on WTBS. The main event featured NWA World Champion “Nature Boy” Ric Flair defending against relative newcomer, Sting. A match that would make Sting a star.
The Crockett’s weren’t happy with Vince’s powerplays. Vince forced cable companies to choose Survivor Series in November 1987 over Crockett’s Starrcade event, and they chose Vince since he was running the hot machine then. Vince then ran the first Royal Rumble in 1988 for free on the USA Network against the Bunkhouse Stampede PPV. So the Crockett’s retaliated with a free Clash Of Champions.
Clash was the better show that night, but media coverage was all for WrestleMania. Hell, even CNN ran a somewhat lengthy piece the next day on WrestleMania IV, with no mention of The Clash.
My favorite little tidbit from this night is that when Demolition won their first WWF World Tag Team Titles that night, Arn Anderson & Tully Blanchard were losing their NWA World Tag Team Titles, who would then go on to end that very Demolition reign over one year later.
Randy Savage became an even bigger star after this night was over. He won four matches, walked out WWF Champion and had fantastic wardrobe changes, coordinating with Miss Elizabeth. Savage and DiBiase would go on to have better matches, as it really didn’t make sense to have a classic here because of all the outside the ring bullshit going on.
This was all done off the top of my head, so if I missed things, don’t shoot me. Just wanted to have some fun with this. Hopefully you learned something you never knew. Or just had fun going down memory lane again.
You can follow me on twitter and instagram @JohnGjoni . My instagram is pretty sweet as I put up a lot of wrestling clips. Gotta make it fun, right? 🙂
Thanks for reading. Comments welcomed, topics encouraged. Would love to do more of these so if you have ideas, I’m here!