The Film: Wrestlemania VI (1990)

The Principals: Rick Martel defeated Koko B. Ware, Demolition (Ax and Smash),  Colossal Connection (André the Giant and Haku), Earthquake (with Jimmy Hart), Hercules, Brutus Beefcake, Mr. Perfect (with The Genius), Roddy Piper, Bad News Brown, The Hart Foundation (Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart), The Bolsheviks (Nikolai Volkoff and Boris Zhukov), The Barbarian (with Bobby Heenan), Tito Santana, Dusty Rhodes and Sapphire (with Miss Elizabeth), Randy Savage and Sensational Queen Sherri, The Orient Express (Sato and Tanaka) (with Mr. Fuji), The Rockers (Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty), Jim Duggan, Dino Bravo (with Jimmy Hart and Earthquake), Ted DiBiase (c) (with Virgil), Jake Roberts, The Big Boss Man, Akeem (with Slick), Rick Rude (with Bobby Heenan), Jimmy Snuka, The Ultimate Warrior (Intercontinental Champion), Hulk Hogan (WWF Champion).

The Premise: The  WWF holds its first Wrestlemania outside the U.S., as it takes place in Skydome in Toronto.  History is made in the main event as the two biggest names in the WWF, IC Champ, Ultimate Warrior, and WWF Champ, Hulk Hogan clash in a title for title match.

Is It Good: It’s bottom five of all time Wrestlemanias.  A highly-anticipated main event couldn’t save a dreadful undercard that featured only one match to go over 10 minutes, populated by three countouts and matchups that were about as riveting as a John Laurinaitis speech.  The breakdown (summary via Wikipedia)

Dark Match: Paul Roma defeated The Brooklyn Brawler     Singles match     Unknown

Never saw it.  Roma was in limbo in between his stints in the Young Stallions and Power & Glory with Hercules.  Brooklyn Brawler was a perennial jobber.

Rick Martel defeated Koko B. Ware – Singles match – 03:51

Yawn of a match.  Martel was still in the first year of his “Model” shtick and Koko, while a talented wrestler and Hall of Famer, was never more than a jobber in these early Wrestlemanias.  As soon as you saw his name on the card, you knew the other guy was going to win.

Demolition (Ax and Smash) defeated The Colossal Connection (André the Giant and Haku) (c) (with Bobby Heenan) – Tag team match for the WWF Tag Team Championship – 09:30

An embarrassment in booking, but an unusual match.  Get this: Andre could barely move at this point in his life.  He and Haku were two drifting talents that McMahon put together as a tag team that scored a shocking win over Demolition for the WWF Tag Team titles.  So in the rematch, Andre never even got into the match because of his lack of mobility.  This was nine minutes of Demolition beating the hell out of Haku, with Haku getting a shot or two in, before falling to Demolition and working the entire match alone.  This was back when the WWF still had a healthy amount of tag teams and this was the best they could put together for a title match?  Terrible.

Earthquake (with Jimmy Hart) defeated Hercules – Singles match – 04:52

This was Earthquake’s first Wrestlemania and he had been introduced the previous September as a monster heel who often sent his opponents to the hospital with his Earthquake Splash finisher.  Hercules was a face and one of the more powerful guys who looked like he could stand toe to toe with Earthquake, who was clocking in north of 450 lbs.  But eventually, this turned into a glorified squash match…literally.  Earthquake with the Earthquake Splash and an aftershock to crush Hercules under his titanic crotch.

Brutus Beefcake defeated Mr. Perfect (with The Genius) – Singles match – 07:48

Pretty good match between the popular face, Beefcake, and Perfect, who had the Genius (Lanny Poffo’s awful shtick) in his corner.  If Wikipedia has it right, Beefcake was the first to pin Perfect in a televised match after over a year in the WWF.  The funny thing, he does it the same way that Jerry Lawler did when he won the AWA title from Hennig in 1988: with a monkey  flip into the turnbuckle.

Roddy Piper and Bad News Brown fought to a double countout – Singles match – 06:48

Bizarre, and something I’d completely forgotten about: Roddy Piper wrestles in half blackface paint (why I don’t recall), against a black wrestler.  The match itself is otherwise forgettable as it’s the first of the three countouts.  But what’s not forgettable is a story about what apparently happened after the match, which I just read in a comment on YouTube.  Basically, there was a solution prepared to take off the black paint for Piper after the match.  But Andre the Giant had dumped it out and replaced it with water.  So Piper had to fly next to Portland, Oregon with half his body still in black paint.  And he said that security never even flinched.  Someone in the comments section said that Piper told this story in a DVD commentary or interview.  I can’t confirm that, but if it’s true…awesome.

The Hart Foundation (Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart) defeated The Bolsheviks (Nikolai Volkoff and Boris Zhukov) – Tag team match – 00:19

Bolsheviks sing Russian National Anthem, Foundation beats them down from behind, Hart Attack on Zhukov, 1-2-3.  Fairly humorous.  Next.

The Barbarian (with Bobby Heenan) defeated Tito Santana – Singles match – 04:33

Santana gets some shots in early, including his flying forearm finisher, but eventually does the job to Barbarian via a vicious top rope flying clothesline.  Santana had been in every Wrestlmania up till about the first ten or so I think.  But he didn’t get much love from McMahon in them, as he jobbed in a lot of them.  Barbarian was fairly forgettable as a singles performer in the WWF, and Santana one of the most loyal.  Sucked to see him having to job here.

Dusty Rhodes and Sapphire (with Miss Elizabeth) defeated Randy Savage and Sensational Queen Sherri – Mixed tag team match – 07:52

I believe this was the first mixed tag in Wrestlemania history.  But it was an abomination.  I hated Savage’s Macho King gimmick, which he was saddled with for two years, I hated Rhodes’ Common Man / polka dot gimmick, hated Sapphire in his corner, hated that Savage got the short end in this feud, and despised the match.  Last two Wrestlemanias, Savage is in the main event, and now he’s in a shit sandwich of a match.  Elizabeth interferes and Sapphire does a schoolgirl rollup on Sherri, a former Women’s Champ?  Come on.  Most shocking thing about this match?  Of the five participants, only Dusty Rhodes remains alive.

The Orient Express (Sato and Tanaka) (with Mr. Fuji) defeated The Rockers (Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty) by countout – Tag team match – 07:38

Not a bad match up until the shitty finish, but had the potential to be so much better, from two former AWA teams.  I liked the Orient Express, back when they were Badd Company in the AWA (and it was Paul Diamond, not Sato).  And the Rockers were always capable of great matches.  But Jannetty gets a eyeful of salt and a countout loss.  Awful, awful booking.

Jim Duggan defeated Dino Bravo (with Jimmy Hart and Earthquake) – Singles match – 04:15

This was basically a power move or two by Bravo, a bunch of clotheslines by Duggan, some interference by Earthquake and Hart, and a 2×4 to Bravo by Duggan for the win.  Earthquake gets in some more flying crotch landings, this time on Duggan.  Not a great match at all.  But oooh, Earthquake was dastardly, wasn’t he?

Ted DiBiase (c) (with Virgil) defeated Jake Roberts by countout – Singles match for the Million Dollar Championship – 11:50

One of the better matches, even though yet another countout.  But Jake got in his DDT and got to pull out Damian, and DiBiase got his fake championship belt back.  So all was right in the WWF universe.

The Big Boss Man defeated Akeem (with Slick) – Singles match – 01:49

Boss Man had recently undergone a face turn after refusing to take a payoff from DiBiase to retrieve his Million Dollar Belt from Jake The Snake Roberts.  Boss Man had also lost what looked to be at least 60 or 70 lbs.  So before the match, Dibiase beat down Boss Man before sending him into the ring against Akeem.  But Boss Man still pulled out the win in under two minutes with the Boss Man Slam.  Not a great match at all, but I was kind of a Boss Man mark back then, so I didn’t mind.  Plus I still loved One Man Gang’s Akeem shtick.  Hilarious.

Rick Rude (with Bobby Heenan) defeated Jimmy Snuka – Singles match – 03:59

Decent match between the two.  Rude was still one of the more bankable heels in the WWF and Snuka was on his way out.  He did a second rope Superfly attempt that looked like a severe asthmatic could have pulled off better after running a marathon.  Rude hits the Rude Awakening for the win.  Rude would go on to feud again with the Ultimate Warrior through the summer for the WWF title culminating in a steel cage match at Summerslam.

The Ultimate Warrior (Intercontinental Champion) defeated Hulk Hogan (WWF Champion) – Singles match for the WWF Intercontinental Championship and WWF Championship – 22:51

This was, generally, a good match.  Had incredible build up at the time.  Warrior and Hogan were clearly the two most popular names and this promised to be an historic matchup; and for all intents and purposes, it was.  The match featured the requisite back and forth between the two, a lot of power struggles (collar and elbow shoves, knuckle locks).  Hogan had to carry the match in technical terms, as he took a slight heel curve in the match.  Crowd seemed evenly divided rooting for the two.  And as face vs. face matches go, especially in this big of a setting, they pulled it off.  I was amazed, after they’d been wrestling for around 20 minutes, that Warrior could get Hogan up in the gorilla slam even as much as he did.  Shocked by Hogan missing the leg drop too.  Hogan’s first legit defeat by pinfall in over six years in the WWF.  Wow.  At the time, just, wow.

Random Anecdotes: Future WWE multi-time world champion Edge has stated several timesc that he was in the audience for this event and it directly led to his wanting to become a wrestler.

Cinematic Soulmates: Wrestlemanias V, VII