I was admittedly not very excited to watch this one, at all. Those feelings served me well as I now vividly remember why WrestleMania VII is my least favorite WrestleMania ever (I tackle my second-least favorite Mania in WrestleMania IX next! WOO). WrestleMania VII took place March 24, 1991, from the Los Ansgeles Memorial Sports Arena in front of an announced 16,158 FIRED UP fans.
This show represents paid patriotism at its finest as it's headlined with Sgt. Slaughter as the Iraq sympathizer and America AF Hulk Hogan. It's fresh off of Sarge's GI Joe Run and just is flat-out a weak attempt at garnering a cheap reaction in the aftermath of AN ACTUAL WAR. Red, White and Blue is everywhere, seeing Slaughter as an Iraqi sympathizer is just wrong and Hogan being pushed as this American hero is the cheapest attempt I've ever seen to keep an aging superstar super over with the fans. It freaking worked I guess because the crowd was LIT, but that doesn't change my opinion. It was in poor taste, and this feels lazy even 27 years later.
This is the seventh piece in a Court of Nerds and Geekiverse collaboration that will present “34 Days of WrestleMania” as we look back on each Showcase of the Immortals as we lead you into WrestleMania 34. Keep an eye out for a couple of podcasts in the near future from Austin Brunner and Benjamin Raven as we break down each decade in podcast form.
WrestleMania VII was originally meant for the Coliseum and 100,000+ fans, and, apparently, a Tugboat main event program (Something to Wrestle) and so on and so forth, so it could have been a lot worse.
Willie Nelson and Jim Duggan stomping around in a f****** Uncle Sam costume for commentary with Gorilla Monsoon while Vince McMahon screams about WrestleMania at us to open the show up.
To not sound like a complete negative turd, Macho Man Randy Savage gets a fantastic performance out of The Ultimate Warrior in the classic career-ending match between the two. WrestleMania VII is a two-match card at best, but still represents an important turning point in the company as the Undertaker makes his WrestleMania debut, and Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels start to finally move away from tag team wrestling for individual singles pushes.
Favorite moments and matches
Like I said, Savage, Warrior, Sensational Sherri and Miss Elizabeth are absolutely the top highlight of this show, bar none.
Savage gets the best out of Warrior, and Sherri is not just one of the most underrated women in wrestling of all time, but characters and talents in general. She is so damn good at being a hated, turd of a heel.
This match had a great build, intense action and could probably be credited with the false-finish thirsty WWE of now. Warrior kicks out of at least five Macho elbow drops -- which I hate -- but the match holds up nonetheless thanks to the intense story being told between the man who won the belt at last year's WrestleMania and one of the company's biggest stars of all time.
Jake “The Snake” Roberts and Rick “The Model” Martel’s blindfold is peppered with unjust hate as I found myself cracking up and just getting a lesson in Wrestling Psychology 101. Jake using his standing as a Face to “track” Martel’s location in the ring based on the audience's reaction is just gold, classic stuff that should be enjoyed for what it is and not compared to anything else on the card. When Jake hits the DDT for the finish, and struggles to find Martel (who is criminally overlooked as a worker) is just damn genius. I love that they worked so hard and put so much focus on getting the gimmick behind this match over.
The Hart Foundation and The Nasty Boyz had a really fun match, with the latter taking the championships and eventually setting up a Bret Hart singles push for the ages. The match got a solid 12-minutes, and the other match worth noting on the card is Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannety opening the show against the Barbarian and Haku. Two fun, old-school tag team matches that included two of the biggest names in industry history on the cusp of breaking out of the tag team division.
Outside of this, I had to look for the zany and weird moments to fill this section out. The crowd was fired up and fantastic throughout the night, which in hindsight is an awesome sight to see as the nation was in the aftermath of Desert Storm and some tense times.
Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby “The Brain” Heenan were on their A-Game without a doubt as they bickered back and forth, and Bobby switched from manager to commentator about every other match. He is the true Swiss Army Knife in this company's history, and his presence is missed to this day.
Uhhhhhh, I guess I enjoyed all the weird stuff with Undertaker measuring Regis Philbin for a suit, Alex Trebek with Demolition, Trebek with the Japanese wrestlers on the card, and Trebek with Jake the Snake’s Snake. Outside of the third year in a row with a Trump interview and him sitting dead as a turkey in the front row, it was mostly fun stuff outside of the bells.
Least favorite moments and matches
THERE WERE 14 matches on this card. Using Dave Melter's star-rating system, WrestleMania VII's 14 matches averaged out for 1.53 stars which still puts it ahead of eight WrestleManias! (I personally disagree with that placement, because nothing on this card, not even Savage-Warrior, was enough to save it from the garbage disposal).
Warrior talking to his hands for two minutes during the match, and putting on his entrance gear to celebrate in the ring after winning was a head-scratcher. Why are you putting a sleeveless duster on after working your ass off for 15 minutes? This is further proof, at the time and in hindsight, that this dude was as good as the person he was paired with. One more thing, I hated that Warrior beat Savage and retired one of the greatest by pinning him with one foot. Savage hit a million elbow drops and didn't get the win, but Warrior hits some shoulder blocks and pins him with a leisurely placed foot?
Everything outside of the main event, Snake and Martel, and Savage-Warrior-Liz-Sherri is a covered in molasses slow-ass moving borefest. Woof, this one is tough between the bells. On top of that, the paid patriotism and use of a current, real-life conflict in which Americans were terrified and losing their lives overseas still tastes like a rotten shit sandwich.
Sarge is coming right off his G.I. Joe stint which makes him somewhat of a mainstream star upon his return, and a more implanted symbol of patriotism in wrestling So, what does WWE do? They turn him into an Iraqi sympathizer to make Hogan the “true” American hero during a real-world time of tension and crisis.
Instead of having two heroes, one is fed to Hogan as he nears the end of his original run and after he had already been on top for years. It was in poor taste, over the top and a useless feeding of a beloved character to Hulk Hogan a year after he passed the torch to the Ultimate Warrior. The overall psychology of this show is ruined by this poor taste angle for nearly four hours because it features a main event in which Kayfabe Kool-Aid drinking fourth graders can 100 percent accurately predict. I hated this show, even though it had some fun moments and historical turning points. It just wasn't enough to save it from being one of those shows that makes me ashamed to be a wrestling fan because of the blatantly forced patriotism to sell tickets and PPV buys.
Does it hold up?
Well, I’m sure 50 percent of us will say yes with the other 50 percent saying no. Just kidding, WrestleMania VII is even too much GO-GO AMERICA for that dude with the tattoo that depicts the Tasmanian Devil running onto Fenway Park dual-wielding American flags. The Go-Go America is shoved down our throats from start to finish from Uncle Sam Jim Duggan, the American flag-themed backdrop and ring is just ridiculous. It’s not ridiculous due to the force-fed patriotism, but with the logic that comes with it.
Why make it even less believable that Sgt. Slaughter -- the enemy of America at the time -- would win?
On the positive side of things, Macho Man Randy Savage and the Ultimate Warrior remains special for a couple of reasons. These two legends are no longer with us, and they put on one hell of a show that night in Los Angeles. Add in the Miss Elizabeth moment, and damn, I felt my childhood crushing in on me. Lastly, this was arguably Warrior’s greatest in-ring performance/match of his career. So that’s something that should be watched, because Macho Man was great even as he was being pushed out of the ring at this point in his career, for some reason. What could have been if Randy Savage stayed in the ring in the WWF, and not been pushed into part-time competitor/commentator and eventually onto some good and some bad things in WCW. For real, he was like 40. AJ Styles is 40 right now. MOVING ON.
Overall, no, this show does not hold up very well. The in-ring action is brutal on this show, and I’m sure that people who neither grew up with this nor have a soft-spot for it will find it enjoyable. Savage and Warrior remains very, very good as I previously said.
Hogan and Slaughter is exciting by how much the crowd is into it, but other than that, even a super engaged crowd can’t save a flat card. Once again, so impressed with this crowd, which reminds me how much I miss the sound of those tighter arenas. Hate how a dome looks and sounds on TV. I know it’s $$$$ and makes it an event, but the big arena and not stadium is better for TV.
In conclusion, WrestleMania VII is a show that should be watched like the Hulu chopped version of Monday Night Raw. Take in the Hart Foundation and Rockers match as it’s both team’s last at the big show, enjoy the blindfold match, give the career ending match between Savage and Warrior proper credit and skim to the end of Hogan-Slaughter so you don’t puke out red, white and blue rocket pops.
See below for a roundup of those already up: