A Mark’s Eye View is a weekly look at some of the things that made me a huge fan of professional wrestling.
In 2004, WWE began hanging WrestleMania signs at the Royal Rumble. It was not long before the winners of the event began pointing to the sign. (As with most cases in professional wrestling, the exact origins are debatable. Some say John Cena was the first while others swear it was the Undertaker.) Unsurprisingly, a cool idea was beat into the ground. Soon people were pointing at the sign on random shows. This led to a fat swamp wizard who wears a spooky Halloween mask challenging Cena to a Mania match by simply pointing.
This begs the question: what would Vince’s roster point at if there was no Mania sign? And how the hell did all the big matches for the event get signed before 2004? Here are the times when a well placed Mania sign could have made a basic bout legendary.
Randy Savage vs Rick Steamboat (WrestleMania III)
Some consider this the greatest Mania match of all time. It’s definitely one of the best of the WWF during the Rock ‘n’ Wrestling Connection. The build up was pretty awesome — the two met on an episode of Superstars. After the match, Savage continued his assault on the “Dragon” and crushed his larynx with a ring bell. The angle included Steamboat wildly flailing on a stretcher and a vignette of him unable to talk due to the Macho Man’s vicious attack.
Steamer made his shocking return six weeks later, though he was still unable to speak. A lot of time and emotional investment from the fans could have been saved if Steamboat came out after a Savage squash and just pointed to a sign.
Hulk Hogan vs Andre the Giant (WrestleMania III)
Savage/Steamboat may have been the best match on the show, but everyone was at Mania III to see Hogan/Andre. The build was great, with the WWF showing footage as far back as 1984 to demonstrate just how long the tension had been simmering between the supposed friends. In 1987, the two met on a series of memorable Piper’s Pit segments. Everyone who saw the events play out remember the bigger trophy, Andre ripping the crucifix from around Hogan’s neck, and the blood and tears.
Why have the Hulkster dramatically scream “YESSSSSSSSS!” when accepting the challenge? They could have still done the famous Saturday Night’s Main Event battle royal, but have Andre point to a Mania sign after tossing Hogan. Probably could have squeezed in another 93,000 fans if they did.
The British Bulldogs & Koko B. Ware vs. The Islanders & Bobby Heenan (WrestleMania IV)
One of the most infamous moments of 1980s WWF was when The Islanders and their manager Bobby “The Brain” Heenan dognapped the Bulldogs’ mascot/manager, Matilda the Wonder Mutt. While longtime fans hated the talented tag team being given the bulldog to begin with, it did lead to great moments like Davey Boy and Dynamite asking the canine for advice during their matches. Even better was when the WWF had fans send in get well cards to the kidnapped pup. That may fly in the Instagram era, but it was pretty ridiculous in 1988.
The dognapping could have gone the same, but the rescue was done all wrong. Matilda should have been brought out and when Mean Gene asked her how she felt after being returned to her team, she could have just held at a paw towards the Mania sign.
Jake Roberts vs Rick Martel (WrestleMania VII)
Sometimes the stories write themselves. Roberts was a guest on the Brother Love show. The Model came out with a can of his cologne, Arrogance, to cover the stench of Jake’s snake Damien. In the ensuing brawl, Martel accidentally-on-purpose blinded Jake with the cologne.
Imagine if a blind Roberts was led to the ring (possibly by a seeing eye bulldog). Instead of challenging Martel to a match, he would just point in various directions. Eventually, he would point at the Mania sign, the crowd goes nuts, and the match…well, it still would have sucked.
Next week: CoronationMania V!
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