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Posted in: Doctor's Orders
Doctor's Orders: The Road to Wrestlemania Countdown #121-#150
By The Doc
Jan 14, 2012 - 6:49:33 PM

I’m very much enjoying the character work that Daniel Bryan is doing right now. That’s the kind of performance that could get him in one of the main-events at Wrestlemania. I’d love to see Orton vs. Bryan. BTW, to continue these discussions on other social media outlets, please follow me on Twitter @TheDocLOP or hit me up on Facebook (Doc Lop)

QUESTION OF THE DAY (37): Who do you think is the most charismatic wrestler of all-time?



150. Big Show and Kane vs. Carlito and Chris Masters at Wrestlemania 22
149. The Rockers vs. The Twin Towers at Wrestlemania V
148. Ted Dibiase vs. Don Muraco at Wrestlemania IV
147. Demolition vs. The Powers of Pain and Mr. Fuji at Wrestlemania V
146. Kane vs. Raven vs. Big Show at Wrestlemania X-Seven
145. Mr. Perfect vs. The Blue Blazer at Wrestlemania V
144. Colossal Connection vs. Demolition at Wrestlemania VI
143. The Cruiserweight Open at Wrestlemania XX
142. Owen Hart and Yokozuna vs. The Smokin’ Gunns at Wrestlemania XI
141. Kane vs. Undertaker at Wrestlemania XX
140. Mr. Perfect vs. Lex Luger at Wrestlemania IX
139. Bret Hart vs. Bob Backlund Wrestlemania XI
138. Men on a Mission vs. The Quebecers at Wrestlemania X
137. Road Dogg vs. Val Venis vs. Goldust vs. Ken Shamrock at Wrestlemania XV
136. Undertaker vs. Mark Henry at Wrestlemania 22
135. Wendi Richter vs. Leilani Kai at Wrestlemania
134. Owen Hart and British Bulldog vs. Mankind and Vader at Wrestlemania 13
133. The Steiner Brothers vs. The Headshrinkers at Wrestlemania IX
132. Nikolai Volkoff and Iron Sheik vs. The U.S. Express at Wrestlemania
131. The Hardys vs. The Dudleys vs. The APA vs. Billy and Chuck at Wrestlemania X-8
130. Jake Roberts vs. Rick Martel in a Blindfold Match at Wrestlemania VII
129. Ricky Steamboat vs. Hercules at Wrestlemania 2
128. Edge vs. Booker T at Wrestlemania X-8
127. Demolition vs. Strike Force at Wrestlemania IV
126. NFL vs. WWE Battle Royal at Wrestlemania 2
125. Chris Jericho vs. Ricky Steamboat, Roddy Piper, and Jimmy Snuka
124. Randy Orton vs. Cody Rhodes vs. Ted Dibiase at Wrestlemania XXVI
123. Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant at Wrestlemania IV
122. Nation of Domination vs. Legion of Doom and Ahmed Johnson at Wrestlemania 13
121. The Funks vs. Tito Santana and Junkyard Dog at Wrestlemania 2



150. Big Show and Kane vs. Carlito and Chris Masters at Wrestlemania 22



Setting the stage: The tag team division was not in good shape during 2005, so the WWE decided to give the belts to Big Show and Kane in hopes that they could revive the scene. They certainly were involved in a lot of high profile matches, including their prominent positions in the Raw vs. SD feud in late ’05, but much like Show’s partnership with Jericho in 2009, the long-term impact on the division was next to nothing. Chris Masters and Carlito were two heels that had made names for themselves in the mid-card that year, but really didn’t have much going on after the 1st week of January in 2006. They formed a team that gave Show and Kane a nice run for their money on Raw, so Vince McMahon announced roughly one month prior to Mania that they’d get another shot at the titles at the biggest show of all.

The match: This was the opening match at Mania 22 and the action was fast and furious from the start. Kane impressed with his always surprising agility, performing a dropkick. Masters and Carlito came back using heel tactics to gain control. Carlito was particularly popular with the Chicago crowd despite his evil tendencies, which came into play later in the match. He removed the turnbuckle cover, which enabled them to thwart Big Show’s onslaught. However, Kane got the tag back into the match. After connecting with a big boot that took Masters out of the picture, Kane hit the chokeslam on Carlito to get the win and help him and Show retain the tag straps.

The reception: The crowd was into it. That made all the difference in the world. You have to love Chicago crowds for that reason. You also have to appreciate smaller arenas for Manias for that reason, too, as they can make it super loud and exciting for matches that would have otherwise suffered from potential lack of crowd heat. It’s fun listening to a crowd of this type, as they become a bigger part of the match.

CMV1 rating: **

149. The Rockers vs. The Twin Towers at Wrestlemania V



Setting the stage: Marty Jannetty and Shawn Michaels burst onto the tag team scene in the WWF in 1988 as a young, energetic duo that flew all over the ring and brought a unique, high flying style. After mixing it up with the Brainbusters to start the year 1989 and before they entered into their second feud against the Rougeau brothers, the Rockers battled Akeem and Big Bossman. The Twin Towers were a major thorn in the side of the WWF’s Mega Power team and were considered the prohibitive favorites to win this match entering the 5th annual Wrestlemania.

The match: Michaels stated in his book that he was sporting a pretty good hangover for this match, which adds an interesting dynamic when watching subsequent viewings of Mania V. I had always thought that the first two matches that the Rockers had at Mania were not quite up to snuff compared to their later work. Of course, a half-hearted Rockers effort is still better than a lot of tag team matches in Wrestlemania history. Anyhow, The Rockers flew all over the ring, as usual, making the two big men look great in the process. The Towers did well to make the young guys look good, too, and sold a lot of their offense well enough to make this match’s outcome up in the air. Marty played the face in peril until he hot tagged Michaels, who teamed with Jannetty to give one Tower a double dropkick and the other a double missile dropkick. Michaels went for a diving splash off the top rope onto Akeem, but Bossman slammed him and allowed Akeem to give him a splash for the win.

The reception: This was the kind of match that made you not surprised when you heard about people liking to work with the Rockers. They bumped all over the place and made matches with guys that were a little more limited still look good enough to produce very entertaining bouts like this one. The only problem was that it was short. Still amazes me to compare the size of the Bossman circa 1989 to ten years later at Mania XV.

CMV1 rating: **

148. Ted Dibiase vs. Don Muraco at Wrestlemania IV



Setting the stage: This was a second round match in the tournament to declare the new WWE Champion. Muraco had come off a win against Dino Bravo and Dibiase had gotten the better of Jim Duggan in the opening round, so both were physically taxed already, but had plenty of time to rest up for Round 2. Muraco had former WWE Champion Billy Graham in his corner, in hopes of offsetting the potential effect that Virgil might have at ringside. I don’t know about you guys, but it’s about time that the WWE does a title tournament on PPV again. It hasn’t happened since Survivor Series 1998, which was about 10 ½ years after Mania IV. I was hoping the tradition might continue in 2008, but it never came to be. I would say that’d be a synch for a nice buyrate over the random gimmick PPV with little on the line.

The match: The former Intercontinental Champion, Muraco, tried to swing destiny in his favor as he made his play to solidify his long-term legacy by winning the WWE title. However, Dibiase was one of the favorites to win it all thanks to the role he’d played in causing the title to be vacant in the first place (recall that Ted bought the WWE title from Andre after the Giant won the title from Hogan. It was one of the classic moments in WWE TV history). Muraco tried hard to overcome the odds, but Dibiase hung the Rock’s neck across the top rope in a stun gun for the win.

The reception: It was another good, solid, but unspectacular match in the title tournament. Most of the matches in the tournament didn’t get enough time to be special, but you gotta give them credit for having a good match without much time to work with. I don’t know why I feel that deserves so much credit when wrestlers in other promotions have dramatic, short matches all of the time. I guess it’s just because the WWE formula is built for a longer match and rarely has deviation from that formula occurred in a match lasting fewer than 8-minutes.

CMV1 rating: **

147. Demolition vs. The Powers of Pain and Mr. Fuji at Wrestlemania V



Setting the stage: Demolition with Mr. Fuji as their manager became the WWF Tag Champions at Wrestlemania the year before and eventually began to feud with a new team called the Powers of Pain during the summer of 1988. The champs were heels at the time, with Fuji a main culprit in their dastardly ways. Yet, at the Survivor Series, Fuji cost Demolition their match and aligned with the Powers of Pain, creating for the rare double turn where Demolition became babyfaces and the Powers of Pain became heels. Demolition wanted revenge, but Fuji wanted their tag titles. At Wrestlemania V, something had to give. I think a storyline like this would do wonders for the current tag team scene. If you were to have Air Boom, for instance, engage a lengthy feud against Jack Swagger and Drew McIntyre (just throwing out to random, yet underutilized heels) and then, at some point, do a double turn…that would give the tag team scene something to latch onto besides two well-known stars making an appearance with the titles for four-six months.

The match: Keep in mind that this was a handicap match. The story of the match was Ax and Smash trying to get at Fuji. This was considered one of the major matches on the card (one of the last times that a tag title match was given such a distinction), so the crowd was all for seeing the champs give Fuji what they felt he deserved. The Powers of Pain proved to be good protectors for the majority of the match, taking advantage of the natural distraction that Fuji provided. Demolition made their gallant come back and regained control. Fuji tried to throw salt in their eyes to help his new team get the momentum back, but it ended up in the eyes of the Warlord. With the Powers at bay, Ax and Smash gave Fuji their finishing move and pinned him for the win to retain their titles.

The reception: I have personally always enjoyed this match and the general consensus has always been on the brink of positive, though most critics consider it neither here nor there. It was a good bout given the time allotted to it.

CMV1 rating: **

146. Kane vs. Raven vs. Big Show at Wrestlemania X-Seven



Setting the stage: Raven had taken the Hardcore title from the Big Show, who had recently returned at Royal Rumble. Show was in the midst of one of the worst stretches of his career. He gained a lot of weight, lost his confidence, and lost the WWE’s faith in him throughout 2001 and 2002. To see where he’s at now, it really helps you appreciate his contributions when you consider he did struggle for awhile. The year before Mania X-Seven, he was in the main-event, for crying out loud. Few in history can say that they were in the main-event for the WWE title one year, only to fall all the way down to the Hardcore title match the next. Kane, meanwhile, had just come off one of the most impressive performances in Rumble history, eliminating 11 men (a record that still stands to this day). The Big Red Machine really just needed something to do and I was always surprised that this was the best that they could muster up for him. Still, we’re not talking about the Hardcore title that fell guilty to the overbooked 24/7 rule. Well, it was still overbooked, but guys like Raven and Rhyno did wonders for the credibility of the belt.

The match: Raven and Kane got things started before Show even made his entrance, but once the big man made it to ringside, all three men went to the crowd and battled to the backstage area. Things got more interesting back there, where the three of them tossed each other around like rag dolls through walls, windows, doors, and chain-link fences. They fought back to the stage, where Show hoisted Raven into the air over his head. Kane kicked him in the chin, sending both Show and Raven off the stage to a platform. Kane dove after them, elbow dropping Show for the win.

The reception: It was fairly well received for a match of this type, even though most of it took place away from the ring. A lot of credit should be given to these three for having a match that added to the card. To me, the golden era of the Hardcore division was 2001.

CMV1 rating - **

145. Mr. Perfect vs. The Blue Blazer at Wrestlemania V



Setting the stage: Perfect was beginning his winning streak that lasted for quite awhile as the year 1989 began and the Blazer was virtually fed to him. There was not much build-up to the match, as Blazer was more of an enhancement talent than anything. Owen Hart, of course, was the man behind the mask and this was his first real shot in the WWF coming down from Calgary’s Stampede Wrestling. If you look back on it and you know you’re about to witness Owen vs. Curt Hennig, it really makes it more interesting than it ever was back then.

The match: The bout was just given about 5-minutes and change, so they worked a frenetic pace and really showcased their skill sets. Perfect dominated the early going, but then he gave Owen the ball and let him run with it. He bumped around as only he and few others could do and made the Blazer look like a much bigger player than he actually was. Despite his attempts at trying to take control, Perfect found himself on the receiving end of numerous near falls. Owen even attempted a split-legged moonsault! Something like that on WWE programming back in the 80s was quite novel. Unfortunately, Perfect was game to kick out of all of Blazer’s major offense, so it would not be Owen to dash the undefeated record. Instead, Perfect took advantage of a distraction, connected with an elbow, and gave the Blazer the Perfectplex for the victory. The Perfectplex and other such pinning combination finishers need to be brought back as regular finishers today. A guy like Dolph Ziggler could get some mileage out of that.

The reception: It was really one of the first undercard matches in Wrestlemania history that really looked like the wrestlers involved were trying to steal the show. If you only got a few minutes, you usually worked slow and methodical like everyone else and got to your finish. Not these guys. This is one of my favorite matches in Wrestlemania history, as a result. It’s a pure joy to watch two pros. Perfect could have just gone out there and dominated the whole thing, but he didn’t. Instead, he let Owen go out there and try to make a name for himself (even if it was as the Blazer).

CMV1 rating: **

144. Colossal Connection vs. Demolition at Wrestlemania VI



Setting the stage: In late 1989, Demolition were once again the tag team champions after regaining the belts from Heenan Family members, the Brainbusters. They were not, however, done with Bobby “The Brain” and company, as the new “Family” tag team, Andre the Giant and Haku, formed the Colossal Connection to go against Demolition. This became an opportunity for Andre to do something significant despite being more limited, in the ring, than ever before. Andre’s work with Haku was like watching an all-time great QB or striker play a back-up role. In December, the Connection won the tag titles, but Demolition fought their way back into contention by Mania. We need a tag team like Demolition in today’s WWE that the company can build the division around for several years. Seriously, Demolition was the focal point of the tag scene for a long time.

The match: Andre the Giant had gotten to a point where he could barely move because his body was failing him. Haku, thus, did most of the work during the match, but he and Demolition worked well enough together to keep the match interesting. You have to keep the match itself and the post-match happenings tied together to rate this whole scenario, overall. Demolition won the tag titles for a third time, but afterward Heenan berated Andre despite his limited involvement in the match. Andre, after being with Bobby for three plus years, turned on him and became a babyface again for his final run in the company. The tag title switch was arguably overshadowed by the incident, but Demolition was nearing the end of their run of relevance, too.

The reception: This was Andre’s final match at Mania and sort of the last truly high profile match that he was physically able to take part in (and he really wasn’t even in this match). I thought it was a solid match, but you’ll find a lot of mixed reviews for it.

CMV1 rating: **

143. The Cruiserweight Open at Wrestlemania XX



Setting the stage: Heading into 2004, the Cruiserweight division in the WWE had seen its highs and lows, but one of its highest highs came at No Way Out in February. Rey Mysterio was the champion coming off a nice series of matches with Tajiri, but Chavo Guerrero burst onto the scene with his dad in tow to present a formidable new challenger. In the best cruiserweight match in WWE history, Chavo beat Rey to win the gold. Instead of a rematch, though, Smackdown GM Paul Heyman decided to include almost the entire division (the WWE’s attempt to give all of them a nice paycheck) in this gauntlet style match. Rey Mysterio continued the budding superhero costume tradition by coming out at Mania as the Flash.

The match: It was certainly exciting, but calling it “rapid fire” is probably the kindest way to describe it. Two wrestlers started and after one was eliminated, then the next would enter until there was only one. The crowd was basically waiting for Mysterio vs. Chavo, but first they saw Dragon pin Moore only to quickly submit to Jamie Noble, who made fast work of Funaki (in under 10 seconds). All hell broke loose for a short period, the highlight of which was Billy Kidman doing his springboard Shooting Star Press to a mass of wrestlers on the outside. As a result, Nunzio couldn’t enter as scheduled and was counted out. Kidman came in and beat Noble, but was then beaten by Mysterio. Rey proceeded to eliminate Tajiri, who actually eliminated his own helper, Akio (better known as Jimmy Wang Yang), with inadvertent mist. Chavo and his dad went onto dupe Rey again to give Guerrero the win.

The reception: I have personally come to enjoy it, but it was initially looked at as an embarrassment to the division since it was hard to credibly believe that superstars would lose so quickly. During that time, it was certainly a disappointment. Always look on the bright side of life. If you go back and watch the majority of the participants involved during their WCW CW days, then you’ll struggle to find any positive in why the WWE treated the cruiserweights the way that they did (Ultimo Dragon, especially).

CMV1 rating: **

142. Owen Hart and Yokozuna vs. The Smokin’ Gunns at Wrestlemania XI



Setting the stage: Billy and Bart had been tag team champions for awhile heading into Mania that year and Owen Hart, who had been a main-event player during the bulk of 1994, was in need of some new direction. So, he set his sights on winning the tag team titles for the first time in his career, which subsequently was to become his first championship in the WWF. The tricky thing was that he did not have a partner. This was before going on to tag with the Bulldog. Thus, he teased the Gunns for weeks leading up to the event as to whom he would reveal as his “Mystery Partner.” It was such a simple storyline, but it was the type that works so well for undercard Mania matches (giving them a reason to take place besides needing to get XYZ wrestler on the card).

The match: It was quite a surprise to see that it was the former WWF Champion, Yokozuna, that had been chosen as Owen’s partner, but the Gunns did well to take control after some initial struggles and keep it for a lengthy stretch of the early going. However, Yokozuna’s power and size quickly proved to be too much for the tag champions. Despite Owen accidentally dropkicking Yoko from off the top rope, the behemoth turned things around and handily decimated Billy with a belly-to-belly suplex before giving him the Banzai Drop off the second rope. Owen tagged in and teased performing the Sharpshooter before opting for the simple pin for the win. The younger Hart was a great, annoying heel. This was an effective way to use Yoko after he began gaining so much weight that he could no longer be counted on in the main-event. I wonder if the WWE ever considered MAKING Yoko lose weight by fining him or something along those lines. I’d imagine that the Wellness Policy of today would’ve done a lot of good for a Yokozuna-type.

The reception: Like much of Mania XI, this bout was not considered to be anything overly special. However, it was sufficiently entertaining and it was a nice fit on the card to add a change of pace before some of the major matches later in the evening.

CMV1 rating: **

141. Kane vs. Undertaker at Wrestlemania XX



Setting the stage: Undertaker feuded with Vince McMahon in the fall of 2003, culminating in a Buried Alive Match at Survivor Series. Just when it seemed that Taker had Vince beaten, Kane showed up and helped McMahon bury the Deadman. Of course, that effectively ended the days of the Biker Taker. I’m not sure how you guys felt about the version of Taker’s character from 2000-2003, but when I came back from my self-imposed wrestling hiatus during the Invasion and saw Taker as a biker dude, I was disappointed. I looked forward to his return to his roots pretty much during the entire 2.5 year stretch leading up to Survivor Series ’03. Anyhow, all would be well for Kane until the Royal Rumble in 2004, when Taker’s gong distracted Kane long enough to get him eliminated. In the weeks leading to Mania, Taker’s theatrics infuriated Kane and a match was set between the two at Mania XX. However, there was no physical sign of actual Deadman, as they saved his return for the PPV itself.

The match: Kane couldn’t believe it when Taker actually came back as the Deadman, ditching the American Bad Ass and returning with Paul Bearer and the Druids. It was quite a moment, for that time period and particularly for that event, to see the real Undertaker back. Still, the Big Red Machine dominated the early part of the match and eventually scored with the chokeslam. Taker sat up, though, and made his comeback. He hit the Tombstone and won what was largely considered to be a forgettable match.

The reception: While most people were happy to see the Taker back with the gimmick that made him famous in the 90’s, it was not a well received match. Average was often used to describe it. However, I think you have to put it in context. Their first match at Mania six years prior was designed to put over Kane’s being on equal footing with his brother, which required a lengthier back and forth battle. In 2004, the point was to simply bring back the Deadman. To that end, of course it worked…

CMV1 rating: **

140. Mr. Perfect vs. Lex Luger at Wrestlemania IX



Setting the stage: Luger made his first WWE appearance at the previous year’s Wrestlemania as Vince’s big signing for the newly formed World Bodybuilding Federation (WBF). That project fell flat on its face, so Luger became a wrestler for the WWE instead and debuted at the Rumble in 1993 under the management of Bobby Heenan. Mr. Perfect and Heenan had once been allies alongside Ric Flair, but Perfect turned on them in late 1992, eventually sending Flair packing in a Loser Leaves Town match o Raw in January ‘93. It seemed only natural to put a stellar worker like Perfect in the ring with Heenan’s new guy, who was in the process of working off some ring rust.

The match: In some ways, this was a dream match for that era. Luger had been a huge star in WCW and Perfect had always been one of the most respected WWE performers. Their match began with a technical mindset, as they worked over each other’s knees and backs, respectively. Luger looked pretty good in the early going, as he’d slimmed down a bit from his ultra-huge days down south. Perfect bumped for him nicely, like he did for everyone. Perfect nearly had Luger beat, but Lex got his foot on the ropes. Unfortunately, when Perfect got his foot on the ropes during an ensuing Luger pin cover, the ref did not see it and awarded the victory to Lex. After the match, Luger laid out Perfect with what became his WWE finisher – the running forearm (in which there was a steel plate inserted).

The reception: I have always like this match, but you’ll have to search far and wide for any review of anything from Mania IX that was well-received. I look back on it as a match between two stars of different companies clashing on the grand stage…and I dig it. Could it have been better? Absolutely. However, I think it might’ve taken a time machine for it to have been great, as neither man was at his peak performance level in 1993.

CMV1 rating: **

139. Bret Hart vs. Bob Backlund Wrestlemania XI



Setting the stage: After Bret defeated his brother Owen at Summerslam in 1994, he moved into a feud with the former long-time WWE Champion on the tail end of his comeback tour. It all led to an extremely underrated championship match at Survivor Series, but Owen screwed Bret out of the match and cost him the title (in one of the great heel moments of Owen’s career, by the way). Backlund and Bret continued their feud off and on leading up to Mania, in large part because there just wasn’t much else for Bret to do. Diesel and HBK were being pushed above him and the rest of the attention was on Bam Bam and L.T. Basically, this match received third billing, made more interesting by the “I Quit” stipulation. Backlund, to his credit, played a fantastic “psycho” type character. One day, I’d like to see Kurt Angle come back to the WWE and play a similar role before retiring where he belongs and receiving a proper send off.

The match: You always got the impression that Bret tried really hard to make even the worst of situations better. I thought he kicked it into gear for Wrestlemania and tried his best to steal the show, but it just was not to be. The match was solid, but not of the caliber of the match a few months prior in 1994. Bret got the victory to end the feud and put himself back into the mix with younger upper echelon guys.

The reception: Not many people really seemed to care for this match. Not even Bret himself really thought much of it (according to what I read in his book). Put Hart vs. Backlund from Survivor Series ’94 on this card and it would have been elevated to a good PPV, but their story was long over before this match took place. There just wasn’t anything left to squeeze out of that feud.

CMV1 rating: **

138. Men on a Mission vs. The Quebecers at Wrestlemania X



Setting the stage: Mabel and Mo burst onto the scene as a colorfully clad team sending out positive messages to the urban youth. Their manager rapped them to the ring and they managed to get fairly over. The tag scene had really dialed down since the glory days of the 80’s, so they quickly rose to title shot status. The Quebecers had become the top heel team in the division and held the titles for the majority of the period between the summers of 1993 and 1994. Interesting, is it not, that the tag team titles in the WWE are only prominent during times of huge business (i.e. the first and second boom periods)? Only when they can afford to have a much larger (and consolidated) roster do they put effort into putting the prestige back into the tag team championships. Also interesting is the fact that, with the exception of a short period during the Attitude era, we fans have been disgruntled with the lack of emphasis on the tag division for 20+ years. Back in 1994, that argument was just getting started.

The match: The Quebecers attacked M.O.M. before the match started, but the challengers eventually battled back. Mo played the face in peril, absorbing the majority of the best offense that the champs could dish out. Mabel got the hot tag, but the Quebecers regained control by double suplexing the mammoth of a man. They eventually hit their finisher – an assisted Senton bomb off the top rope – but they couldn’t make the pin. Their manager, Johnny Polo (better known as Raven), pulled them out of the ring to preserve their title reign with a count out loss.

The reception: Just another standard tag match at a Wrestlemania that didn’t get much time. Although, you have to give credit where it’s due for these four living up to that standard set by far more talented wrestlers in a time not far removed from tag team relevancy. Raven, by the way, is a current shining example of the physical toll that the wrestling lifestyle can take on the human body. He is 47 y/o, but he looks like he’s pushing 70.

CMV1 rating: **

137. Road Dogg vs. Val Venis vs. Goldust vs. Ken Shamrock at Wrestlemania XV



Setting the stage: At the beginning of January 1999, Ken Shamrock’s sister, Ryan, showed up on Raw in the front row of the stands. Val Venis thought she was attractive (she was OK) and tried to woo her with his charms. The two would later meet at St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. Venis won the IC title with Ryan’s help, but then he unceremoniously dumped her. Ryan began a relationship with Goldust on the rebound. All three men wanted the IC title, which by Mania 15 had been won by the popular Road Dogg Jesse James. Since this is the only time we’ll get to discuss Venis…how funny were his promos back in the day? “You see the Big Valbowski is like a custom Harley…powerful between the legs!” Classic stuff that only worked in that era. I always thought he could have made a main-event splash by playing a character that slept his way up the food chain, leading to an angle with Stephanie and Linda McMahon. Alas, he faded quickly into obscurity once his era-specific gimmick got lost in the shuffle, post-Attitude.

The match: This was an elimination match, with only two guys in the ring at one time. Mid-way through the match, Shamrock and Venis re-ignited their rivalry and fought up the ramp toward the entrance, causing both of them to get counted out. Goldust and Road Dogg were left to duke it out for the IC title. After a few near falls, Dogg countered a Goldust slam and rolled him up for the win. This was one of those cases where they got plenty of time, but they didn’t make the most of it. Up to this point in the Countdown, it’s been all about guys trying to make the most of limited time. Mania XV was full of matches like this that had potential to be much better than they actually turned out to be.

The reception: It was neither here nor there and nobody seemed to care much about it. It was a way of getting a few popular mid-carders into the fold at Mania.

CMV1 rating: **

136. Undertaker vs. Mark Henry at Wrestlemania 22



Setting the stage: Mark Henry became a force to be reckoned with at the start of 2006, injuring World Champion Batista in the process and then setting his sights on Kurt Angle, the new champion. Angle beat him at the Royal Rumble and moved onto Undertaker. Henry took exception to being passed over for a second opportunity at the title in favor of giving the shot to the Taker and set his sights on the Deadman. Even though Taker beat Henry on Smackdown, the World’s Strongest Man was relentless in his pursuit. During Taker’s No Way Out rematch on Smackdown against Kurt Angle for the title, Henry interrupted and put Taker through a table. In response, Taker planned to put Henry in a casket. The original plan had been for Taker vs. Angle to take place at Mania that year. What a joy that would’ve been to watch (at a Mania in Chicago that I attended, no less). Unfortunately, Batista got hurt, scrapping the planned SD main-event of Orton vs. Batista for the title. As plans changed, Taker’s first classic Mania match got postponed a year.

The match: Henry dominated the match for much of the length of this bout, sans for the opening minute or two which were back and forth. Taker had one particularly nice move during his comeback where he knocked Henry out of the ring, got back into the ring, and launched himself over the top, managing to fly over the casket at ringside and crash into Henry. He also performed a few impressive feats of strength. Not only did he hoist Henry up for the Last Ride Powerbomb, but he also managed to Tombstone the 400-pounder. It was the latter move that allowed Taker to roll Henry into the casket and win the match.

The reception: Taker was praised for making the match quite watchable. He put his body on the line and he showed off some impressive displays of athleticism. Henry was up to the task of being carried throughout and played his role well, rising to the occasion of the grand stage.

CMV1 rating: **

135. Wendi Richter vs. Leilani Kai at Wrestlemania



Setting the stage: Every Mania has at least a couple of big matches to be the primary selling points for the prospective audience. For the original Wrestlemania, a women’s match was the second biggest bout on the card. You really have to thank Cyndi Lauper. If it were not for her connection to Captain Lou Albano, we may never have gotten the Rock ‘N Wrestling Connection that helped make it possible for the original wrestling boom. Lauper took center stage as a mainstream personality involved in the storylines that came to define Mania both then and now. Kai and Richter were merely the beneficiaries of the hype that went along with Lauper being involved, but they played their parts well.

The match: There’s only one match in the last 30 years worth of wrestling history involving female wrestlers that was more exciting than this one, in my opinion, and that’s Trish vs. Mickie at Mania 22. Richter vs. Kai is iconic in its own way. Lauper was such a star at that time. What she brought to the table was awesome. Richter can thank her for allowing her to become a Hall of Famer. Without this match, Richter is but a blip on the radar. With this match, Richter has a special place in history. I will always fondly remember this bout. The original Mania was so much flash and so little substance, but stand alone it remains one of those classic events that you can sit back and find enjoyment in to this day.

The reception: Given the spectacle that was Mania 1, it makes it difficult to rate the matches. Work rate at Mania wasn’t really introduced until Mania 2 and not fully until Mania 3, as the presentation and entertainment factor were valued ahead of the in-ring performance. Nevertheless, Richter and Kai did what they had to do in order to ensure the overall success of this bout. Lauper brought the fans to the table, but it was up to the ladies in the ring to make it or break it. I thought they did just fine.

CMV1 rating: **

134. Owen Hart and British Bulldog vs. Mankind and Vader at Wrestlemania 13



Setting the stage: If we were to rewind the clock back to September 1996, I was a teenage kid developing an addiction to HBK matches. Such is why I purchased Mind Games as my first non-Mania PPV that night and saw HBK tear the house down with Mankind. If you were to ask me what other matches took place, I could only tell you one of them – the tag title match between the Smoking Gunns and Owen Hart / British Bulldog. I don’t recall how good the match was, but I do recall that Owen and Davey were a good tag team that often gets overlooked when we discuss the better teams of the 90s. Vader, meanwhile, was a tragically underutilized talent that I just don’t think they ever knew what to do with. At a weak Mania like 13, Vader should’ve been in a higher profile match – maybe the WWE title match.

The match: Mankind and Vader formed a halfway decent tag team in an era where randomly thrown together partners was NOT the norm. By this point, Owen and Davey were about as fluid as you could hope for and controlled the flow of the match – even if they weren’t always dominating it. There’s an interesting type of entertainment value looking back at a match like this. It was not overly impressive either athletically or psychologically and, like most of the matches at Mania 13, it didn’t really meet expectations. However, it is more than worth a watch when taken into the proper historical context and we are talking about a match that featured arguably four future Hall of Fame caliber talents (even if all four don’t make it in).

The reception: I’ve never seen this get rated as high as three-stars and you certainly won’t see such a kind rating from me. As mentioned, Mania 13’s matches were fairly bland. I don’t think it helps that Mania has been so consistently good in the last 10 years that it hurts to watch guys that are so talented work such a mediocre match on a card in front of a crowd that today’s performers always give their absolute all for.

CMV1 rating: **

133. The Steiner Brothers vs. The Headshrinkers at Wrestlemania IX



Setting the stage: One of the biggest differences between the WWE and WCW during the 80s and early 90s was that tag team wrestling was far more important down south. Tag teams would be semi-main-events on most of the biggest cards in the NWA/WCW. The Midnight Express, the Rock ‘N Roll Express, the Road Warriors, the Andersons, the Fantastics, and the Steiner Brothers were all heavily involved in the television storylines and treated as near equals to their singles, main-event caliber counterparts. The WWE had great tag teams, but they weren’t pushed the same way as the WCW tag teams. So, I find the dynamic of tag teams like the Steiners and Road Warriors coming over to the WWE very intriguing. The Steiners followed the Legions of Doom’s lead in 1993 and headed up north. They met the Headshrinkers in their first and only Mania match. Of course, Rikishi was one of the Headshrinkers long before he became the Phat Man.

The match: Samu and Fatu were a good tag team, like a lot of the Samoan teams that we’ve seen over the years. They matched up well physically with the Steiners for a hard hitting match that challenged each of the teams athletically. The Headshrinkers were just big enough that it made the Steiners execution of their offense look all the more impressive, but just small enough to where the Steiners could actually do what they needed to do. In what seemed like one of the few clean finishes of the entire event, the Steiners did go on to win. They won the tag team titles a few months later, but their run in the WWE was considered a disappointment.

The reception: This was the third best match of the night behind Bret vs. Yoko and HBK-Tatanka, so they had a good match that actually added to the card. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much to get invested in, with regards to a feud, so it came across like a random tag team match lacking the WWE star power to overcome the lack of a story. By the way, recent history has not been kind to Scott Steiner. WWE fans remember him for his botchfests in 2003. TNA fans know him, I guess (I don’t watch TNA). Scott Steiner was an awesome wrestler from the late 80s all the way up until WCW folded. Do yourself a favor and watch some of his old matches.

CMV1 rating: **

132. Nikolai Volkoff and Iron Sheik vs. The U.S. Express at Wrestlemania



Setting the stage: Mike Rotunda and Barry Windham formed the U.S. Express at the end of 1984. Similar to Hulk Hogan, they adopted a catchy 80’s song as their theme music and rallied the American pride en route to winning the tag titles in early 1985. In fact, that catchy 80s tune happened to be “Real American” – the same theme that Hogan would use and make famous. As of ’85, Hogan was coming out to “Eye of the Tiger” to coincide with the Rocky III roots that prompted McMahon to strap a rocket ship to his back and shoot he and the WWF into mainstream consciousness. Anyhow, the WWE took advantage of the heat that the Iron Sheik had and pitted him with the Russian Nikolai Volkoff, who was famous for singing the Soviet national anthem before his matches. It was American vs. Foreign for the tag team championships of the world. You may recognize Barry Windham as one of the newest inductees into the WWE Hall of Fame alongside the rest of the Four Horsemen. He had brief stints in the WWE (also as the Stalker and New Blackjack), but made his name in NWA/WCW. Rotunda, father of Husky Harris, is the former Irwin R. Schyster (IRS), who also made a reasonable name in the NWA as part of the Varsity Club (which also included such popular wrestling names as “Dr. Death” Steve Williams, “The Taskmaster” Kevin Sullivan, and Rick Steiner).

The match: There was not much to many of the matches at the very first Wrestlemania, but the atmosphere was so fantastic at Madison Square Garden with all the celebrity involvement and such. U.S. vs. anywhere else was a really easy way to get a feud going back then, so these guys battled it out in classic America vs. enemy fashion. Classy Freddie Blassie was the manager for the heel team and he slipped Sheik his cane. Sheik dropped Windham allowing Volkoff to get the pin and the win. Thus, Iron Sheik and Volkoff won the tag straps.

The reception: It was an average match elevated by the fact that it was the first tag title match on a Wrestlemania card. It was solid enough, but nothing outside the main-event at Mania 1 was really worth watching more than once.

CMV1: **

131. The Hardys vs. The Dudleys vs. The APA vs. Billy and Chuck at Wrestlemania X-8



Setting the stage: Billy and Chuck were an ambiguously (pushing the limits of) gay duo that created a lot of controversy in 2002. A great wrestling mind once stated that “controversy creates cash.” Thus, B&C were given the tag titles. When Mania rolled around, they need established challengers to put them over. Enter three teams from the Attitude era-style glory days of tag wrestling in the APA, Hardys, and Dudleys. The Hardys had actually just re-united after feuding in the latter part of 2001. So, there was a sense of “randomly thrown together” with this match. Always interesting to note the difference that a year can make, as Mania 17 effectively ended the Attitude era. By ’02, seven guys who were prominent figures throughout that period were relegated to a random tag team match.

The match: Like many of the mid-card matches at Mania X-8, the tag title match was solid yet unspectacular given the time it was offered. It was an elimination tag match, with the APA being eliminated first. The Dudleys – with the luscious Stacy Keibler by their side – were the next to go, but not before Stacy exposed her back side and had it slapped (hard) by Jeff Hardy. It came down to a flurry of near falls between the Hardys and B&C, but it was the dastardly heels that got the better of the newly reformed face team to retain their tag belts.

The reception: One of the reasons why Mania X-8 is underrated is because virtually the entire card hit the two-star mark or better, which is a pretty impressive feat for any PPV much less a Wrestlemania with eleven matches. Matches like this helped elevate Mania X-8 to the top 10 of a lot of best-of lists (or much better in some cases).

CMV1 rating: **

130. Jake Roberts vs. Rick Martel in a Blindfold Match at Wrestlemania VII



Setting the stage: On an episode of the Brother Love Show in 1990, Jake Roberts was the guest and was assaulted by Rick Martel’s fragrance, Arrogance. Oh, “The Model”…what a classic, yet underrated gimmick from that era. It blinded the Snake and put him out of action for about two months. Roberts healed up just fine, but as pay back to the career threatening injury, he challenged Martel to a Blindfold match where neither man could see so that he could thoroughly embarrass him. This was one of those types of angles that the IWC would probably take a grande numero dos on circa modern times, but that Jake Roberts made awesome twenty years ago. His understanding of the psychological aspect of the sport was unparalleled and I believe this match is arguably the greatest example of how you can make an entertaining match almost solely using psychology.

The match: Roberts immediately began pointing at various areas of the ring and allowing the crowd to react the strongest when he was pointed in the direction of the Model. They nearly got hold of each other on numerous occasions, but just not quite. At one point, they each accidently grabbed the ref. Martel would take control and have the most sustained period of offense in the entire match. He got in a backbreaker and a Boston Crab before the hold was broken. Soon after, Roberts got lucky and caught him with a DDT for the pin and the win. Roberts wonderfully worked the crowd, turning the match into a fun spectacle.

The reception: In general, people seemed generally intrigued to see how this match would play out, even if early smarkish opinion was that they’d be better off without the gimmick. To me, the gimmick made the match and gave Roberts an awesome challenge for a worker of his caliber while taking a career tag teamer and giving him a nice chance in a headlining spot at Wrestlemania. Martel played his part very well. Because of this match and feud, I fondly remember Martel. The Snake, of course, is an all-time great.

CMV1 rating: **

129. Ricky Steamboat vs. Hercules at Wrestlemania 2



Setting the stage: 1986 was a big year for the mighty Hercules. It started out inauspiciously, as he lost this match to Ricky Steamboat in what was one of the first major matches of his WWE career. However, he did well enough in defeat that he got a huge push at the end of the year. It’s actually kind of amusing, knowing the history of steroid use in the 80s by wrestlers. Hercules, for this match against the Dragon, looked a lot like Eugene – the loveably annoying “special” superstar from the mid-00s. By year’s end in ’86, Hercules looked like a Greek God. I wonder how he managed to do that? :) (Doctor’s Note – if Hercules came by his physique naturally, then good for him. Just seemed too obvious)

The match: Steamboat gained control early with a quick flurry of arm drags and an extended series of armbars. Hercules battled back and used his power to build momentum, but Steamboat was ever resilient. Lord Alfred Hayes mentioned on commentary that Steamboat and Hercules were both in line for shots at the Intercontinental Championship – that would be fateful for the Dragon, but completely inaccurate for Hercules. Hercules ended up having a big WWE Championship match against Hogan later in ’86 (the aforementioned big push from the above paragraph). Steamboat got the win when he used his knees to thwart a high risk attempt from Hercules off the top rope, and then followed with his own high risk off the top in the form of a high cross body block. Steamboat sure made wrestling look easy, didn’t he?

The reception: This was the opening match for the Los Angeles portion of Mania 2, so it was high octane and fast-paced in the way that you’d expect an opening match to be. It was only about 8-minutes long, so it wasn’t given enough time to be more than average, but it certainly earned its keep and added something to Mania 2’s card.

CMV1 rating: **

128. Edge vs. Booker T at Wrestlemania X-8



Setting the stage: Edge was coming off a nice run in the Intercontinental title division, but after losing the title to William Regal at the Royal Rumble and failing to win it back the next month, he found himself lost in the shuffle between the mid-card and knocking on the main-event’s door. Booker spent the better part of his first six-seven months in the WWE as a major player involved in major matches as a leading member of the Alliance. After that, he got lost in the shuffle, too. So, he went after a big endorsement deal in Japan for a new kind of shampoo (yes, I’m serious). When Edge ended up taking it instead, Book took exception and a match was made for Mania. This was also during a time in which Book was expanding his horizons as a character (a good thing that led to future big pushes). He was trying to convince everyone that he was smarter than they thought he was, so he began wearing glasses and attempting to act more sophisticated (which worked well for him four years later as “King” Booker). Before this match, he told us about a paper he once wrote on Einstein’s “Theory on Relatives.” Classic!

The match: One of the greatest signs in Wrestlemania history emanating from the first few rows read “They’re Feuding Over Shampoo.” Indeed they were. It was a back and forth match with the Toronto crowd firmly behind their hometown boy, Edge. Booker took control, but then Edge came back. The 5-time WCW Champion regained momentum, but Edge wrestled it away from him. It looked like Book would get it done after taking over one more time, but he showed off a Spin-a-roonie and allowed Edge to recover. Edge seized final command and scored with the Impaler; then, he did his own version of the Spin-a-roonie before connecting with the Spear for the win.

The reception: Their match was cut short due to the Flair-Taker match running long and it was surrounded by several bigger, more star-studded battles. However, they managed an entertaining bout with some nice back and forth action and it was generally regarded as such.

CMV1 rating: **

127. Demolition vs. Strike Force at Wrestlemania IV



Setting the stage: Tito Santana and Rick Martel were a damn good tag team that eventually won the tag team titles in a division that featured a lot of really good teams. Back then, the tag titles actually meant something and the title holders were considered on the upper echelon of the WWF. Demolition, heading into 1988, was on a tear. They were the WWF’s answer to the NWA’s Road Warriors, according to many, but they carved their own path and became a very good team and force to be reckoned with for a few years, as mentioned in previous entries of the Countdown. The last time I watched this match was last year at about this time. It came to mind that Strike Force were put together and won the titles pretty quickly, reminding me of the 1995 Houston Rockets with Clyde Drexler coming aboard. They won the title, but quickly made way for a dynasty the following year in the form of the Chicago Bulls. Strike Force:Rockets / Demolition/Bulls.

The match: This match had the unenviable task of coming on before the final match in the WWE title tournament that had been the big focus of the show. These four did well to get people focused on their match and avoid getting lost in the shuffle. Mr. Fuji was Demolition’s manager and he got involved in the climax of the match. Tito tried to deal with him, but Fuji dropped his cane conveniently into the ring so that Ax could retrieve it and smash (pun intended) Martel in the head with it. Smash made the cover and Demolition captured the tag titles.

The reception: It was regarded as a good match and it stands the test of time. Demolition went on to dominate the tag title division for a long time, having several matches of this and better quality. Look for Demolition to go into the Hall before too long. They were stars of a tag team golden era.

CMV1 rating: **

126. NFL vs. WWE Battle Royal at Wrestlemania 2



Setting the stage: Chicago was home to the second portion of the Wrestlemania 2 card and also home to the Super Bowl Champion Bears, who had just won the NFL Championship a couple of months prior. It gifted the WWE an opportunity to do some cross promotion, mainly by bringing in William “The Refrigerator” Perry for this battle royal deemed “NFL vs. WWF.” To see the Fridge in there with some of the mammoth competitors of that time was a cool sight, especially for a young fan. Some of the key participants from the WWE were Andre the Giant, Iron Sheik, Big John Studd, and a young Bret Hart. Of course, Perry parlayed this one appearance at Mania into a celebrity spot in the WWE Hall of Fame twenty years later.

The match: I love battle royals! One guy involved that I didn’t mention above was Bruno Sammartino, marking his first and only Wrestlemania match. For that reason, I wish that they would’ve put the Battle Royal in the New York portion of the show, considering all that Bruno did for the WWWF territory back in the 60s and 70s. Alas, with Fridge involved and the main selling point of the battle royal, that would not have worked. However, the historical significance of Sammartino being in this match remains. The Fridge got eliminated by Big John Studd. However, he grabbed onto to Studd and pulled him over the top in retaliation, eliminating him despite having already been eliminated, himself. The final participants in the match were Andre and the Hart Foundation. Andre last eliminated Bret to win the match.

The reception: I thought that this was a fun exhibition handled in just the right way. Fridge was the star of the match since it took place in Chicago, but Andre and the wrestlers took over after he got eliminated and showcased what they could bring to the table. The battle royals at Manias 2 and 4, respectively, will always be personal favorites of mine.

CMV1 rating: **

125. Chris Jericho vs. Ricky Steamboat, Roddy Piper, and Jimmy Snuka



Setting the stage: Jericho was originally slated to wrestle Mickey Rourke in what might have been a big coup for the WWE. Rourke was the star of the critically acclaimed movie, “The Wrestler,” and won the Golden Globe for Best Actor (and was nominated for the Oscar). He pulled out of the match for P.R. reasons, leaving Jericho with a great storyline arc, but no opponent. Enter old school veterans of the WWE – Hall of Famers – who universally praised the movie, enraging Jericho. CJ thought that the movie glorified those in the business that didn’t know when to quit. He assaulted each of the three wrestlers he was set to have a handicap match against at Mania, in addition to the guy in their corner: Ric Flair.

The match: Rourke was sitting ringside for the match and Flair led the Hall of Famers to the ring. Jericho took some early offense from Piper and Snuka, but they were quickly disposed of with the Walls of Jericho and a running enziguiri, respectively. Then the real fun began...Steamboat entered the ring and wowed the crowd with his ability to still “go.” He and Jericho tore it up for a few minutes, with the Dragon proving resilient. Jericho eventually got the better of him, though, with the Code Breaker.

The reception: It was a tale of two matches; one with Jericho vs. Piper and Snuka and the other with Jericho vs. Steamboat. The first was barely watchable, while the second was fantastic. The Dragon had not wrestled in over 15 years and it looked like riding a bike for him. He and Jericho were praised for their work. Let us ponder, though, what might’ve been. To take nothing away from Steamboat, a match with Rourke would have been huge for Jericho (and the WWE). Jericho vs. Rourke pushes Mania to over a million buys and, if it went well, would have been quite the feather in Jericho’s already considerable cap. Oh well…

CMV1 rating: **

124. Randy Orton vs. Cody Rhodes vs. Ted Dibiase at Wrestlemania XXVI



Setting the stage: In 2008, Rhodes and Dibiase joined forces with Orton to create a group called “The Legacy” patterned after their multi-generational wrestling backgrounds. It was thought that Rhodes and Dibiase would use Orton to springboard to better things much the same way that Orton used Triple H to do the same years earlier in Evolution and, as 2009 came to a close, it really seemed that Dibiase would be the one to step up and challenge Orton. They had numerous segments from the late summer of ’09 onward that made it seem as if Orton vs. Dibiase would be penciled in at Mania, but the WWE seemingly gave up on it. Instead, Dibiase and Rhodes both turned on Orton and it was Randy that began to be cheered, leading to this triple threat match.

The match: Orton dominated the early part of the match before Legacy took over and started to double team him. The camaraderie did not last long, though, as it became apparent that both men wanted the honor of pinning the Viper. They began to brawl with each other, which allowed Orton to recover and regain control. The numbers game again proved to be a problem, as Dibiase and Rhodes re-focused and kept Orton’s offense at bay…but not for long. Orton proved cunning in his ability to outsmart his protégés and connected with all of his signature offense. Despite eventually taking their best moves, Orton still found a way to kick Cody with the Punt and then score with the RKO on Ted for the win.

The reception: The Legacy split was a disappointment (in terms of how it was treated on television and on this night – like it was just another match) and the expectations for this match were low, so it delivered on the amount of time that was spent on it. It wasn’t a major match, but they went out and did well to give a nice performance. Truth be told, I may have underrated this match a bit…

CMV1 rating: **

123. Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant at Wrestlemania IV



Setting the stage: 1987 was a banner year for the WWF, as it rode the success of the biggest match of all-time from Wrestlemania III, Andre the Giant vs. Hulk Hogan, for as long as it could. The two huge stars squared off in rematches for the rest of that year, during which time the Million Dollar Man burst onto the scene and tried to buy the WWF title. Hogan wouldn’t sell it, so MDM got Andre to win it for him and then give it up. Controversy reigned as Hogan and Andre’s match at Saturday Night’s Main-Event ended with Andre winning despite Hogan’s shoulder not being on the mat for three. The title was held up in a 14-man tournament at Mania IV to name a new, undisputed champion. Hogan and Andre got buys to the second round, where they met in a rematch from the previous year. This was the first big one-on-one rematch in WWE PPV history. Andre-Hogan II (on PPV) created for an awesome environment for the tournament, but also put the onus on the rest of the tournament to deliver at the level of a mere quarterfinal match.

The match: With an even more personal rivalry this go round, Andre and Hulk pummeled each other like they hated one another. Hulk took early control from there, but Andre quickly came back and gained the upper hand. They sold it like an epic war until Andre finally fell to the mat and opened a chance for Hogan to drop the big leg. When he did, the referee was distracted and couldn’t count the pinfall. Dibiase, who was at ringside, brought a chair into the ring and tried to strike on the Hulk. Hogan got hold of the chair, beforehand, and used it on Andre. The Giant got hold of it and then used it on Hulk, prompting a double DQ. WHAT!? As a kid watching this event, that finish prompted half a dozen questions to rush to the forefront of my young mind. The way that the tournament had been set up, the winner of Hogan vs. Andre surely would win the tournament.

The reception: The wrestling world was shocked that Hogan didn’t advance. Most considered him the odds on favorite to win, most likely facing Savage in the final a year early and going through Million Dollar Man to get there. Alas, the finish to this match flipped the script on the general consensus.

CMV1 rating: **

122. Nation of Domination vs. Legion of Doom and Ahmed Johnson at Wrestlemania 13



Setting the stage: Ahmed Johnson was a star in the making in 1996 when he won the Intercontinental Championship, combining raw power with nearly unmatched intensity that helped him get over and seem on the brink of superstardom. He seemed destined for big things when Farooq (Ron Simmons) made his debut by attacking Johnson in June. Simmons was a former WCW Champion forced to wear a ridiculous looking “gladiator”-like outfit when he first arrived on the scene. Anyhow, Farooq was going to be challenging Ahmed for the IC title at Summerslam, but Johnson had to take time off due to kidney problems, which were explained in storyline by a Farooq assault. This was one of the most heated feuds of the year. Farooq soon dropped the goofy attire and founded the Nation of Domination. Ahmed made his return in early 1997 and joined forces with the Legion of Doom to go up against Farooq and his N.O.D. This was the biggest match in Farooq and Johnson’s careers. “We are the nation a live and in color, don't dis the man 'cause we'll bum rush your mother. Listen what I'm sayin' it's for real not playin' - Faarooq is the man hit your knees and start prayin'” – We are the Nation…of Domination.

The match: In somewhat of a preview of the hardcore matches that would take place during the Attitude era, these six men went all out with every weapon that they could get their hands on. Farooq and Johnson were rightfully the centers of attention in the story being told, but the Chicago-born Road Warriors got the crowd’s attention more than anyone. Animal ended up getting the win over Crush after hitting him with a 2X4.

The reception: Rating really depends on the reviewer, as there have been some prominent dirt sheet writers to rate this in the 3-4 star range. I don’t think it’s nearly that good and it’s just another garbage brawl, but it was entertaining.

CMV1 rating: **

121. The Funks vs. Tito Santana and Junkyard Dog at Wrestlemania 2



Setting the stage: Terry and Dory Funk were former NWA Champions and true legends in the wrestling business. By 1986, Dory was getting up there in age, but Terry was still going strong. The younger Funk seemed to only get better with age. Some of the best work of his career occurred in the late 80s. You may recall his run in WCW/NWA in 1989? That was one of the most brilliant character years I’ve ever seen from anyone. Anyhow, Terry came into the WWE the year before and made a splash as a hardcore bad ass with a branding iron. He engaged in a heated rivalry with one of the top babyfaces of that era, the Junkyard Dog. Tito Santana needed something to do at Mania that year, so he got tossed into the fray alongside JYD to do some Funk Thumpin’!

The match: The focus of the match was on JYD and Terry, but Dory and Tito did get their licks in. Tito played the face-in-peril before all hell broke loose. The ref got distracted allowing several key shenanigans to take place. Terry took a chain to JYD, but the Dog escaped and backdropped him over the top rope and to a non-padded floor. JYD followed him out and slammed him through a table! This was virtually unheard of in that era. The ref saw none of this. Back in the ring, all four guys were fighting when the Funk manager, Jimmy Hart, tossed Terry his megaphone, which he used to blast JYD over the head and pin him for the win.

The reception: This ranges from extremely popular amongst old school fans to really bad and everywhere in between. You’ll read a wide variety of reviews. Keep in mind that fans in that day were not conditioned for a match of this nature. I did not personally enjoy it much and found it to be the typical formulaic WWE tag match sans for the table spot. Others have called it absolutely brilliant for its time. This is probably a match that I could stand to re-watch with a glass of wine and nothing else to do but zero in and try to pretend like it’s 1986 and I haven’t seen a million hardcore matches.

CMV1 rating: **

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