wrestling / Video Reviews

Kevin’s RetrospectiveMania Series: WrestleMania V

June 13, 2019 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
WrestleMania V
WWF WrestleMania V
April 2nd, 1989 | Trump Plaza in Atlantic City, New Jersey | Attendance: 18,946

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Donald Trump somehow convinced Vince McMahon to run WrestleMania at Trump Plaza for the second straight year. It remains the only time that has ever happened. A lot has changed since WrestleMania IV. Randy Savage still has the WWF Title, but his relationship with Hulk Hogan has soured due to jealousy issues over Elizabeth, setting up this year’s main event. Demolition was still reigning as Tag Team Champions. The Ultimate Warrior was on the rise as a huge star. The 90s were right around the corner. Let’s take a look at how this WrestleMania holds up.

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

Hercules vs. King Haku ~ Seeing Haku come out to the generic King music and being carried out is always jarring. Though this wasn’t what you’d call a hot or fast paced opener, there’s no denying the hype level of the crowd. They popped hard for any bit of Hercules offense in the early stages. Haku took control until Hercules busted out an ugly cross body. Like, it was really awkward looking. The finish was just as awkward. Hercules bridged a back suplex for the win and it looked like both of their shoulders were down. However, the replay showed he nicely rolled his shoulder up just in time. This went 6:51 and was okay. Nothing special but I didn’t hate it. [*¾]


The Rockers vs. The Twin Towers ~ I could’ve sworn this opened the show. Akeem and Slick combined to have more swag than anyone else in WWE history. The WrestleMania debut of Mr. WrestleMania. Also for Marty Jannetty and Big Bossman. I remember Michaels on a podcast once talking about wrestling against Demolition. Since the Rockers were so small, they were only allowed to knock Ax or Smash off their feet with tandem offense. I felt that style came into play here. It would take both of them to best their larger opponents. On the flip side, the big men could do something simple and down them with ease. They worked the hot tag to Michaels but he ultimately fell to a splash from Akeem after 8:02. That was a fun little tag. It followed tag formula and that usually works. The Rockers threw themselves into everything, while Akeem and Bossman were game enough to make it work. [**¾]

Brutus Beefcake vs. Ted Dibiase ~ Interesting that Dibiase was the Million Dollar Champion but didn’t defend here. He stopped before the match to shake hands with Donald Trump. It’s a nice touch for his character. These guys were given more time than I expected. Surprisingly, they made it work. One thing I’ve gathered from this series is that Beefcake wasn’t as bad as I thought. I still wouldn’t classify him as good, but before his big injury he was somewhat serviceable. He brought fire in the early goings before Dibiase took over. Beefcake found a way to block the Million Dollar Dream and eventually got his Sleeper Hold in until Virgil distracted him. It all led to a brawl outside that got both men counted out after 10:01. A match that was technically fine but lacked heart. Nothing they did felt like it meant much and the crowd was surprisingly silent. [**]

The Bushwhackers vs. The Fabulous Rougeaus ~ Bushwhackers matches don’t go well with me. I usually detest them. Thankfully, this was at least kept short. I can do Bushwhacker comedy if it’s not overdone. The Rougeaus did their best to make this watchable but there’s only so much you can do in their situation. Anyway, the Bushwhackers won with the Battering Ram and a tandem gut buster in 5:11. Their act was never any good to me. At least this didn’t go for ten minutes. [¼*]

The Blue Blazer vs. Mr. Perfect ~ Owen Hart vs. Mr. Perfect? Sign me up, baby. This was different from the rest of the show to this point. Lots of fast paced action and some crisp exchanges by two masters o their craft. Even if Owen wasn’t at his peak yet, he still more than knew what he was doing in there. Blazer got in more offense than I expected. Perfect bumped so well for him. He got his knees up on a splash and started in on signature Mr. Perfect offense. And yet Blazer was still given changes for near falls and such. Mr. Perfect still put him down with the Perfect Plex at 5:38 and it was fun. They had no business having that good of a match when it didn’t mean anything and could’ve just been a squash. [***¼]

WWF Tag Team Championship: Demolition [c] vs. The Powers of Pain and Mr. Fuji ~ A handicap match for the titles. Mr. Fuji with the Powers of Pain face paint is a great sight. This was a battle of two big, powerful tag teams. And it felt like it. They didn’t do much of note besides club away on each other. The MVP of the match was Mr. Fuji. He tried a damn top rope move and landed right on his ass. It was the most entertaining moment by a fairly wide margin. He tried using the Fuji dust but it backfired. That set up the Demolition Decapitation finisher at 8:56. A dull match that featured nothing of note happening outside of Mr. Fuji being cool. [¾*]

Dino Bravo vs. Ronnie Garvin ~ Another boring match. The crowd was pretty dead for everything they did, which wasn’t much. It did feel like Garvin was trying his best on some bumps and spots. Bravo was kind of just there. Garvin picked up a decent number of near falls. Despite that, it was Bravo who won with a side slam in 3:58. Like I said, this wasn’t any good. It was kept relatively short, though, so it had that going for it. [½*]

The Brain Busters vs. Strike Force ~ Hello WrestleMania debut of the Brain Busters. These two teams did a much better job working an interesting tag match than the Tag Title contest earlier. Strike Force busting out stereo Figure Fours was a cool moment that I don’t remember happening often in this era. Their run of being in control got halted when Tito Santana accidentally hit Rick Martel with a flying forearm. Santana ended up as the face in peril with the interesting dynamic that his “fresh” partner on the apron was hurting from the shot he accidentally gave him. When Martel was about to get tagged, he walked out, pissed about getting hit. Santana fought hard, but fell to the Spike Piledriver in 9:17. A good match with solid action and a story that led to the split of a tag team. [***]

Andre The Giant vs. Jake Roberts ~ Big John Studd was the guest referee. Okay, so this wasn’t any good. It’s difficult to be so harsh on it because you understand why. Andre was breaking down quickly. It was clear at WrestleMania IV and even more this time around. Booking him to work a near 10 minute singles match was only going to make that more painfully obvious. It all just led to Andre and Studd getting into it, reigniting their WrestleMania I feud. Ted Dibiase ran out and tried stealing Damien. Jake got him back and Andre, scared of the snake, ran away in slow motion as Studd called a DQ on him for attacking him at 9:44. A bad match with a lame finish. This should’ve been like three minutes. [DUD]

Greg Valentine and Honky Tonk Man vs. The Hart Foundation ~ Rhythm and Blues, except they didn’t have that name just yet. The Hart Foundation worked as babyfaces because that pairing was ideal for tag formula. Bret took the heat and did so by selling the hell out of his opponents’ offense. He made sure Valentine and Honky looked as good as they could. Meanwhile, Neidhart was the powerhouse who could run through people when his hot tag came. Once that usual stuff was over, Jimmy Hart tried using the megaphone to cheat. Neidhart got control of it and Bret clocked Honky with it, picking up the victory in 7:38. Basic tag team wrestling and that’s perfectly fine. [**½]

WWF Intercontinental Championship: The Ultimate Warrior [c] vs. Rick Rude ~ You could tell Ultimate Warrior was on the cusp to being a megastar. He was way over. Rick Rude played his role here perfectly. He got his heat and controlled a lot of the match while also ensuring he set Warrior up for some great fire spots. I loved Warrior powering out of a submission by grabbing the ropes and shaking it like he does during his entrance. It was a cool visual that was perfect for his character. Just as Warrior truly got going, Bobby Heenan tripped him up on a suplex attempt. Rude landed on Warrior and Heenan held the legs to give us a new champion in 9:42. A pretty good match. Rude did well to play to Warrior’s strengths and had the crowd engaged in a lot of what they did. Kind of boring and simple at points though. [**¾]

Bad News Brown vs. Jim Duggan ~ Ah, the good old death slot. Clearly just here as a cool down between two big matches. Nobody cared to see this. I will note that it is crazy to see two guys who pretty much refused to do jobs. Not much to write about because they just did nonsense brawling until both brought in weapons and we got a double DQ in 3:48. At least they kept it short and it had some energy. [½*]

Bobby Heenan vs. The Red Rooster ~ Just get to the main event already. Rooster won in 0:31 after Heenan missed a corner charge. [NR]

WWF Championship: Randy Savage [c] vs. Hulk Hogan ~ I stand by, as many others do, that Randy Savage wasn’t the heel in this. Sure he was overly jealous, but Hulk Hogan knew what he was doing. He was a total jerk. Savage outwrestled Hogan in the early stages. It seemed like Hogan tried to match him there and didn’t really stand a chance. He got going using his power, only for Savage to kick him in the face. That meant something because Hogan got busted open on it. He was vulnerable and it made Savage seem more dangerous. Savage took control until it was time for the Hogan comeback after he kicked out of the Elbow Drop. The fans were awake again. That gave us the Leg Drop and Hogan was again champion after 17:53. The best Mania main event up to this point. It was just shy of being great because the ending felt rushed and the crowd was pretty dead throughout. Nothing against Hogan, who did well, but Savage was firing on all cylinders here. [***¾]

This was the second best WrestleMania so far from a pure in-ring standpoint. Savage/Hogan is a very good main event, Warrior/Rude is solid, Blazer/Perfect surprised me, and there are some pretty good tag matches in there. You also unfortunately get some really bad stuff in there too.

SCORE: 6.0




Though this was a better show than WrestleMania IV, it is less memorable. Hulk Hogan vs. Randy Savage is certainly remembered, but less so than Savage’s crowning moment a year earlier or Hogan vs. Andre. The other piece of this show that I see played constantly was the Piper’s Pit segment with the cigarette. Other than that, there’s not much that stands out.

SCORE: 5.0



Historical Significance

This show had some pretty key moments from a historical standpoint. You had the WrestleMania debut of Shawn Michaels, which is a huge deal considering who he goes on to become. Mr. WrestleMania appearing for the first time is cool. Rick Rude also won his only ever Intercontinental Title. The things that happened here helped set up the eventual massive Warrior/Hogan clash the following year, which was a massive deal.

SCORE: 7.0



Booking Decisions

For the most part, I liked the booking decisions on this show. While I always preferred Savage to Hogan, I get that putting the title back on Hogan was the right move. I also liked the surprise of Rude going over Warrior. That was the kind of thing you wouldn’t expect given how powerful Warrior’s run had been up to this point. There were still a few too many matches that ended either with something cheap happening or via countout or something like that.

SCORE: 6.0




I almost spat out the Propel I was drinking at how laughable the opening was. It focused on the Mega Powers exploding and was just super cheesy. As always, I know I’m grading this for the time period because obviously this can’t live up to something from the modern era. That being said, this was cheesy for any time period. Once again, the commentary combo of Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse Ventura were very good. I also have to commend Mean Gene. He was just so damn good at all the little things during his segments. He’s been good on every Mania and I just had to show him love. Basically, the presentation was on par with the other Trump Plaza Mania.

SCORE: 6.0



Most of the WrestleManias so far have followed a similar formula. Match, then interview, then match. Wash, rinse, repeat. This one was a bit different. Things were paced out awkwardly. Some matches just went on right after the other with no real break. Other times, we had too big a break. For example, after Blue Blazer/Mr. Perfect, the show went into a series of non-wrestling segments that dragged on. If they were spaced out better, the show would have flowed much more smoothly.

SCORE: 5.0




There was more in this section than expected. For starters, having Women’s Champion Rockin’ Robin sing at the start of the show was a bad move. It was a cool concept, but she sounded uncomfortable and she wasn’t very good. Other strange choices included another random Jesse Ventura pose down for no reason and footage of Mr. Fuji cheating to win a 5K. However, I did like the Run-DMC performance. The biggest non-wrestling segment was Piper’s Pit. Roddy was highly entertaining and the stuff with Morton Downey Jr. was memorable, but Brother Love was super annoying and gave me a headache. That’s a fair amount of bad outweighing the good here.

SCORE: 4.0




Place this WrestleMania smack dab in the middle so far. It is the third best of the bunch. It didn’t wow me in terms of presentation, entertainment, or memorability, but it was better in the ring than most. It was also helped by scoring at least above average in most categories.


TOTAL: 39/70
WrestleMania Rankings
1. WrestleMania III – 55/70
2. WrestleMania – 50/70
3. WrestleMania V – 39/50
4. WrestleMania IV – 32/70
5. WrestleMania II – 29/70

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WrestleMania 5, Kevin Pantoja