wrestling / Video Reviews

Kevin’s RetrospectiveMania Series: WrestleMania III

May 4, 2019 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
WrestleManias WWF WWE WrestleMania III Andre the Giant Hulk Hogan WrestleMania's
WWF WrestleMania III
March 29th, 1987 | Pontiac Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan | Attendance: 93,173

Two shows in and I wouldn’t say we’ve had a good WrestleMania. The first got a solid score more based on what it means historically, but the second didn’t have much to save it. Now, we move onto the first WrestleMania that I’ve really seen praise for throughout history. After all, it features one of the biggest matches to ever happen and a classic Intercontinental Title bout. Throw in the record crowd (yes, I know that wasn’t the real number but it’s what’s listed so I’m going with it) and you’ve got something potentially special.

Where will it rank among the rest of the WrestleManias so far? We’ll find out here. As a reminder, I’m reliving these WrestleManias and rating them on a 1-10 scale in these seven categories. They’ll be ranked by their total score.

• Match quality – Self-explanatory. Will always be the longest section.
• Memorability – How memorable is the show?
• Historical significance – The impact the show had on wrestling
• Booking decisions – Did the event have logical booking decisions for the stories they told
• Presentation – Things like stage setup, video packages, commentary, etc.
• Pacing/Flow – How well is the show laid out? Does it drag or move along smoothly?
• Entertainment – The non-wrestling elements like promos, celebrity interaction, concerts, etc.


 

Match Quality

Bob Orton and Don Muraco vs. The Can-Am Connection ~ For those who don’t recall, the Can-Am Connection was Rick Martel and Tom Zenk. Being outgunned in terms of size, they had to use speed and athleticism to catch their opposition off guard. Zenk was eventually isolated, setting up the hot tag to Martel. The crowd way into it. The finish played right into the story of the match. The Can-Am Connection had to be smarter than their larger opponents. Martel hit Muraco with a cross body over Zenk on all fours, giving them a slight leverage advantage on a pin in 5:35. Solid tag wrestling with a well told story. [**¾]

Billy Jack Haynes vs. Hercules ~ Hey, there was an actual recap for this feud. Haynes was sporting a glorious gold and green sparkly jacket. This was built as a battle of two muscle men. Vince McMahon’s favorite. If that kind of match sounds bad to you, you won’t like this. Simple as that. I try to appreciate all kinds of wrestling. These guys worked the match like two men vying to prove they were more powerful than the other. When the Full Nelson got applied, the crowd reacted big, meaning they did their job. Haynes fought out of one tried by Hercules. When Haynes applied his, they fell to the outside and he still had it on. Both men were counted out in 7:44 Probably a minute or two too long. Still, they had the kind of match the build called for. A finish would’ve been nice. [**]

The Haiti Kid, Hillbilly Jim and Little Beaver vs. King Kong Bundy, Little Tokyo and Lord Littlebrook ~ King Kong Bundy had to have one of the biggest falls in terms of match importance from one WrestleMania to another. From the main event to a midget tag. Not that I’m complaining. The little guys were just there for comedy as the immediately went into that kind of stuff. The crowd popped for Bundy getting evaded by one of them. The finish was surprising, as it saw Bundy get disqualified for dropping an elbow on Little Beaver at 4:12. To be fair, Beaver was being a pest so he got what he deserved. The match was bad comedy, so I wasn’t a fan. [¼*]


Loser Must Bow: Harley Race vs. Junkyard Dog ~ The pop for JYD was massive. The story coming in was that JYD didn’t agree with King Harley Race’s idea that everyone needed to bow to him. Simple enough. The best part of this match was easily Race missing his slow motion headbutt off the apron. I laughed so hard. Race also bumped in an entertaining manner on pretty much all of JYD’s offense. It was almost Shawn Michaels at SummerSlam 2005 levels of over the top. Unfortunately, all it led to was a Bobby Heenan distraction that led to Race winning via belly to belly suplex in 3:21. That finish was hella flat. Points to Race for bumping the way he did but this never really get going. JYD didn’t bow and was a sore loser. [*¼]

The Dream Team vs. The Rougeau Brothers ~ Can the Dream Team deliver back to back good matches at WrestleMania? They held serve for most of this one as Bobby Heenan joined commentary to put over the success of his guys so far. That was even though they haven’t had a great night. In the Dream Team’s corner was Dino Bravo and Johnny V. Brutus Beefcake made a mistake that nearly cost his guys the match. The Rougeau Brothers her it won but a cheap shot from Bravo allowed Valentine to score the victory in 4:03. A rushed match. Beefcake wasn’t happy with how they won and was left behind from the winning team. [*¾]


Hair vs. Hair Match: Adrian Adonis vs. Roddy Piper ~ One of the more memorable matches from this show. The first Mania where Roddy Piper is a babyface and he’s way over. It helped that this was billed as his retirement. Immediately, this became the most entertaining thing on the show so far. We got whipping with a belt, Adrian Adonis bumping over the top, Jimmy Hart taking a slam from the top, and a molten hot crowd. The reaction when Piper got trapped in the Sleeper Hold was insane. The fans believed it was over. Adonis celebrated too early, so Brutus Beefcake came out and helped wake Piper up. Piper then won with a weak looking Sleeper in 6:54. Great sports entertainment. It wasn’t technically strong, but it was wildly entertaining and the crowd added a lot to it. [***]


The British Bulldogs and Tito Santana vs. Danny Davis and the Hart Foundation ~ Maybe the British Bulldogs will give us the back to back good matches at Mania thing that the Dream Team couldn’t. Danny Davis was fresh off being suspended for his time as a crooked referee. He looked ridiculous with the pinstripe pants. Tito came out firing, jumping the Hart Foundation before the bell because he was hot. I dug the way Neidhart kind of manhandled him, only to get thrown around by Davey Boy. It really showed off his power. Dynamite Kid played the face in peril and it was great to see the Hart Foundation pick him apart, as well as the cocky cheap shots from Davis. Of course, it all came back to bite Davis in the ass. He proceeded to take a beating from our babyface team. Once this became a pier six brawl, Davis used the commotion to knock out Smith with Jimmy Hart’s megaphone and steal the match in 8:52. Back to back fun matches. This was worked at a quick pace and Davis was used perfectly, playing the smarmy heel you want to see get beat up. Really good. [***¼]

Butch Reed vs. Koko B. Ware ~ Jesse Ventura said the “B” in Koko’s name stood for Buckwheat. Wow. Though Koko was over, this felt like a cool down. We had two good matches in a row and there’s a big one coming up next, so this got sandwiched to kill some time in between. Being the heel, Reed controlled most of this short contest. Koko’s comeback got a decent response but nothing more. Reed rolled through a cross body and grabbed the tights to win in 3:39. Not much to this one. No flow and it was just two guys doing random stuff for a few minutes. [*]


WWE Intercontinental Championship: Randy Savage [c] vs. Ricky Steamboat ~ Widely considered one of the greatest WrestleMania matches of all time. These two did what I want in a match. They made each movement matter. Whether it was a small toss into a ring post or a big moment like Steamboat lifting him into a choke, it all played a part and had purpose. I hate when matches waste time with filler moves for the sake of it. The crowd was way into everything. You get cool moments like Steamboat skinning the cat, which I don’t think happened often in the 80s. I thought all the near falls were a positive. It really made it feel like both guys were desperate to win. It also made Steamboat feel like a fighter who wouldn’t quit. Everyone was on the edge of their seats for the late close calls. At first, I wasn’t into the idea of a ref bump, but since it led to the ring bell tease, I really liked it. George Steele got revenge by shoving Savage off the top and Steamboat countered a body slam into a small package to win the title in 14:35. An all-time classic. Nearly everything about this match worked. It was revolutionary for the time. I loved the little nuances throughout and how it played off the storyline. [****¾]

Honky Tonk Man vs. Jake Roberts ~ Jake Roberts was with Alice Cooper. I like the rock music against Honky Tonk Man and his brand of tunes. Roberts attacked before the bell. I usually don’t like when babyfaces do that, but Jake was always the kind of character to do it. It was consistent. Honky Tonk Man turned the tide when he sent Roberts into the corner. His heat segment was pretty dull. Of course, Roberts’ comeback was thwarted by a Jimmy Hart distraction. Honky Tonk Man beat him by using the ropes for leverage in 7:44. A slow match that was pretty boring throughout. [*½]

The Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff vs. The Killer Bees ~ I’ll always hate the angle where someone can’t sing their National Anthem. If the goal is to stop them, it should be because they’re bad singers and nobody wants to hear. Jim Duggan showed up to stop Nikolai Volkoff from singing and I’m just like, “Well nobody was rude enough to interrupt Aretha Franklin at the start of the show. Why is this okay?” Anyway, the match was about as basic as it can get. Nothing of interest happened and then Duggan ran in to cause a DQ in 5:44. A nothing match but at least it wasn’t offensive. [*]


WWF Championship: Hulk Hogan [c] vs. Andre The Giant ~ I’ve always loved the build to this match. The crowd was insanely hot for this. Hogan immediately went for the body slam and failed, setting the stage for the contest. That failure put Hogan in severe trouble. Andre used his massive size to just wear him down. Hogan having to sell for the entire match was rough. Like, there was a spot where he took a back body drop outside and it looked ATROCIOUS. Still, Hogan made the big comeback and did the slam heard ‘round the world. A Leg Drop later and he retained the title in 12:01. Technically, this isn’t any good. However, I don’t think it’s nearly as bad as some people do. Meltzer gave this -****. It did one of the most important things a match can do, and that’s give the fans what they wanted while telling the correct story. It may not be exciting, but it was the right match at the right time so I give it props for that. [**]

Definitely the best card of the bunch so far. Savage/Steamboat is easily the greatest WrestleMania match to this point, there are two other matches at ***, another came in close, and I thought the main event was fine. The rest of the card did nothing for me, but it was mostly enjoyable.

SCORE: 6.5

 


 

Memorability

 


I gave the first WrestleMania a good score here for obvious reasons, but this one ranks a lot higher. First of all, that crowd is memorable. Everyone knows that 93,000 number, even if it has been debunked and debated over the years. “The irresistible force meeting the immovable object” is an iconic line. We all remember the spectacle of Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant and the athletic display put on by Randy Savage and Ricky Steamboat. There’s a reason those still come up to this day when anyone discusses the history of WrestleMania.

SCORE: 9.0

 


 

Historical Significance

 


Similar to the memorability factor, the historical impact of this show was huge. Think about what Andre vs. Hogan really did. It drew a ridiculous amount of people to a wrestling show. It was the biggest match in the history of this industry at the time and still might be to this day. While that always gets the shine, I do think other stuff was significant. Steamboat/Savage really put the Intercontinental Title on the map. It was the first IC Title match at a WrestleMania to feel like an important contest. It set the tone for the two key factors about the championship. One, it set it up as the “workhorse” title where midcard guys can put on great matches. Two, it cemented the title as a stepping stone for future WWF Champions because of where Savage eventually finds himself on the card.

SCORE: 9.5

 


 

Booking Decisions

 


Honestly, I’d say most of this show was booked well. It felt like the right people went over in the most important matches. Ricky Steamboat overcame the 414 day reign of Randy Savage to get revenge. Hulk Hogan overcame the greatest odds ever. Roddy Piper bested Adrian Adonis and went out for his “retirement” on a high note. I question certain things, though. The Billy Jack Haynes match ending via countout felt cheap and I’m not sure about Danny Davis winning the six man tag. I think he really needed his comeuppance here. I do feel they went to the dirty finish too often.

SCORE: 7.5

 


 

Presentation

 


From a pure presentation standpoint, this has to be top of the list so far. The sheer size of the crowd adds a ton. Everything looks important when so many people are watching. The whole setup was really good. The lighting, especially during the daytime matches, was beautiful. It is the first WrestleMania that really feels like a massive deal. I also want to give a shoutout to the commentary team of Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse Ventura. They played so well off each other. One negative was the lack of a special intro video. Even if they weren’t produced to look great, at least the first two Manias had that.

SCORE: 8.0

 


 

Pacing/Flow

 


Here’s a place where I feel this edition of WrestleMania struggled a bit. While there was a fair amount to like, it does happen to be a three hour show that drags at points. I appreciated the effort to throw in breaks of lesser matches in between the good stuff. It partially helped the flow in the later stages of the show. The first portion is kind of a slog to get through.

SCORE: 6.0

 


 

Entertainment

 


For the second straight year, the WWF stepped their game up in terms of “America the Beautiful.” Aretha Franklin sung the hell out of that song. I thought a lot of the celebrities brought in were used better than last year. Alice Cooper getting the spot with Damian was a cool moment that is remembered by many. Bob Uecker was hilarious on commentary. I found the post-match haircut antics for Adrian Adonis to be delightful. All in all, they made good use of the non-wrestling portion of the show.

SCORE: 8.5

 


 

Overall


The first time that a WrestleMania truly felt like a spectacle. This scored way high in presentation, entertainment, memorability, and historical significance for good reason. The score for booking was solid and it didn’t come up short in any category. That gives us a new top WrestleMania in these early rankings. A recommended show for sure.

TOTAL: 55/70

WrestleMania Rankings
1. WrestleMania III – 55/70
2. WrestleMania – 50/70
3. WrestleMania 2 – 29/70

 

article topics :

Wrestlemania III, Kevin Pantoja