Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Mania Memories: Something Different

Hogan helps Savage win
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger on Twitter

Wrestlemania IV featured something no other Wrestlemania had (or has): a tournament for a new world heavyweight champion.  Hulk Hogan lost the title to Andre the Giant a month earlier on "the Main Event" and the giant promptly sold the belt to Ted DiBiase.  WWF President Jack Tunney would have none of that and declared the title vacant, and crowning a new champion at Wrestlemania.

Fourteen WWF superstars, including Hogan and Andre, were pitted against each other in this single elimination tournament.  I watched intently on closed circuit television at the Kiel Auditorium in St. Louis that Sunday afternoon back in March.  I was in high school by this point, but still pulling for the baby faces (the only exception was that I was a HUGE Honky Tonk Man mark).  I figured Hogan would NOT be winning the title back (even though I was completely devastated that he lost it in the first place), so I was pulling for Bam Bam Bigelow.

Bam Bam gets screwed
There was something about the Beast from the East that really made me think he was going to go all the way and reach the top of the WWF Mountain.  Boy was I wrong.  Bam Bam lost via count out to the One Man Gang in round one of the tournament.  Again, I was crushed.  Then for a moment, I had high hopes that Ricky Steamboat would win, but after jobbing to HTM so quickly the summer before and losing the Intercontinental title, I didn't bank on him going far either.  And I was right, as Greg Valentine pinned the Dragon in round 1.  Steamboat would leave the WWF and win the NWA world title about 11 months later...

However, looking at the big picture, it makes a lot of sense that they put the title on Randy Savage.  Macho Man had evolved and come a long way over the three years he had been working with the WWF.  The fans were really starting to dig him and the WWF really needed someone to carry the torch as Hogan was leaving to make another movie.  Fans got that torchbearer in Savage.  And it didn't hurt that he had Elizabeth by his side.  I think she helped bring fans to the table for Macho Man as well.  They were truly the first couple of the WWF.

The winner!
There were rumors that DiBiase was supposed to win the tournament, but the company went with the face again.  In that day and age, Vince McMahon was reluctant to put the belt on a heel (or so I've read).  It was like the opposite of what was happening in the NWA at the time with Ric Flair.  Times were different though, and I think most fans are happy with the outcome.  Wrestlemania IV helped "Macho Madness" explode onto the scene and make Randy Savage one of the biggest players in the game.

1 comment:

  1. Those were the good old days. Glad I was around to enjoy the glory days of wrestling :)