A Mark’s Eye View is a weekly look at some of the things that made me a huge fan of professional wrestling.
Few things are more exciting than a hot finish to a wrestling match. Unfortunately, today’s wrestling seems to have replaced tension-inducing endings for a series of finishers and kickouts. Who can blame the agents or wrestlers? Over the years, fans have been conditioned to chant “This is awesome” once a match has someone kick out at two for the seventh time in 45 seconds.
As much as I love the Randy Savage/Ricky Steamboat match from WrestleMania III, it shoulders much of the blame. The match had 22 two counts (17 of them by the “Dragon”) and is seen as one of the greatest matches of all time. It was something completely different for the era and set a template for future stars to follow.
What makes it okay for the Mania III Intercontinental Championship bout to have a ridiculous amount of false finishes but annoying for it to happen in yet another Adam Cole Takeover main event? For starters, Savage and Steamboat did it first. It also was not a formula the WWF would continue with every IC title match going forward, which is just part of the reason it’s a match people remember decades later instead of forgetting it within two years: it was different.
Savage may have never again reached the heights of his match with Steamboat, but he did have many more memorable Mania moments. Two years later, the Mega Powers exploded at Mania V. The main event saw Macho take on his former friend and tag team partner Hulk Hogan in the main event. In a great match, the Hulkster became only the second man the win the WWF belt on two occasions.
The angle and the match were fun to watch. The final seconds of the match are another story – especially if you are a Savage fan. By 1989, the dislike of Hogan was a little more vocal. The casuals still loved him, but his backstage antics were becoming a little more obvious. For example, Savage’s year with the WWF’s top title was overshadowed by the constant presence of Hogan. (including an embarrassing display of egotism when Savage won the belt at Mania IV.) Come Mania V, there was a very loud subset of Macho Man fans.
In the end, it didn’t matter. The match followed the usual Hogan formula. What made the confrontation better was the Savage’s ability. Still, in the end it came down to Macho hitting his beautiful flying elbow and the Hulkster kicking out then Hulking up for the win. Fans had seen it before, but the kickout is one of the worst in the history of Hogan’s career.
Savage hits one of the best looking elbows of his career and goes for the cover. Hogan kills the drama immediately as he even does not lay flat. Instead, he has his tight to his sides facing up. It is clear he is going to push Savage off. Even worse, Ho-hum begins his kickout right after the ref counts one. Hulk absolutely killed Macho’s finisher and derailed his career in a matter of seconds.
The Hulkster was at it again one year later. The main event of Mania VI saw the two most popular men in the WWF meet in the main event as Hogan took on the Ultimate Warrior. In what can only be described as a shockingly good match, Warrior upset Hogan. The match is filled with iconic moments and is a must watch match. The match also saw Hogan try to upstage another new champion.
Hogan’s kickout at Mania VI is very defendable; I would even say it was the correct thing to do. Warrior was able to pin Hogan after landing his trademark splash. Immediately after the ref’s hand pounds the mat for three, Hogan kicks out. He gets up stunned by the loss while Warrior celebrates his victory.
The story of the bout was how evenly matched the two were. This went back all the way to that year’s Royal Rumble when the two participated in the greatest criss cross in the history of pro wrestling. The Mania encounter saw the two constantly show how neither had a significant advantage. Hogan’s immediate kickout only added to the story.
I could have done without all the “Please, look at me!” theatrics, though.
Next week: The other time WrestleMania was almost cancelled
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