WrestleMania V from April 2, 1989 at the Trump Plaza in Atlantic City, New Jersey
WrestleMania V was giant money at the time and features one of the most memorable -- if not the most -- main events in the show’s history between WWF Champion Randy “Macho Man” Savage taking on former Mega Powers partner Hulk Hogan. It was a feud that had one of the best slow burns in the history of the modern era of the industry with Hogan originally helping Savage win the belt at WrestleMania IV, and finally the WWF blurred the lines between kayfabe and reality with the use of Savage's jealous-induced protection of Miss Elizabeth to start cooking up the tension.
Hogan and Savage had been teaming for the better part of 1988 and 1989 as the Mega Powers, but after mounting tension exploded between the two on the Feb. 3 episode of Main Event, the historic match was made. Elizabeth took a nasty bump and Hogan left the match to tend to her aid and rush her backstage, which sent the Macho Man into a frenzy after the match.
The tension was built for nearly a year, and the let it hit its boiling point two months out from the show. That's the best slow-build + give the fans the match at the right moment I've ever seen from the company.
This show represented the second year in a row that WrestleMania came from the Trump Plaza (by name) in Atlantic City, with Savage winning the championship tournament at WrestleMania IV the year before. While this show had a couple DQ and count-out finishes, it still truly feels likes a special event from the moment it started to the moment it went off the air, and that’s what WrestleMania is supposed to be all about, to me.
Sure, most of the stuff between the bells stunk from here to high heaven but we all knew that at the end of the night, we were going to watch the Mega Power explode and we might even explode a little in our pants when it happens.
We find ourselves at a point in the business where Hulk has been going strong here for a while and there are some new up and comers such as Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart, Owen Hart, Mr. Perfect, among others, featured on the midcard.
Favorite moments and matches
I might be a “Mark,” but I still enjoy several things about this weird ass, slow as molasses WrestleMania. From the strange pre-recorded segment with Lord Alfred Hayes covering Mr. Fuji running a marathon in his suit, that Mega Power vignette (schwing) and the ending to the Intercontinental Championship between Rick Rude and the Ultimate Warrior.
In that match, Bobby “The Brain” Heenan held the Warrior’s legs to the mat from the outside after Rude countered a suplex into a cross-body pin. A brilliant finish to do for the shit heels in Heenan and Rude, and I don’t care that the same exact finish happened in the NWA/WCW around the same time. Still holds up. Still cool. Still smart as shit booking.
Other than the main event and IC match, there aren’t too many bright spots between the ropes on this card outside of the tag match between the Hart Foundation vs. Valentine and Honky Tonk Man, and the way too quick Blue Blazer and Mr. Perfect tangle.
Rude gets the best out of Warrior and Savage gets the best out of Hogan, which is the highlight of the show and a complete testament to the ability of both of those men.
I belly laughed at some of the terrible segments with awkward Lord Alfred choking on his words more than once, the premiere trailer for the “No Holds Barred” Hogan movie and the awesome pre-recorded backstage interviews. The current product is even taking a chapter out of this book with more pre-recorded wrestler interviews before they come out to the ring. Saves time, bodies and time. Did I mention time?
Random notes worth sharing: OH SNAP, the interviewer calls Donald Trump, “Donald Day Trump” instead of “J.” and the awkwardness and hurt feelings on our PRESIDENT’s face is super weird to see 32 years and some change later.
Least favorite moments and matches
Seeing Andre the Giant look the way he did at this point was tough. I can’t believe he was still working because, and I’m not trying to be disrespectful, it truly looked like it hurt to even stand. He could have been doing other things for the WWF and still getting paid as a towering presence and legendary status in the industry. Between that and just about every match on the card, it was tough between the bells.
There is still a lot of no selling from big strong roided-up weightlifters that stylistically does not hold up very well when compared to today's product. Hercules and Haku opened the show, what a jolt of adrenaline.
Does it hold up?
As I said in my favorite moments and matches portion, the unexpected performances from Hogan and Warrior in the big matches paired with the rolodex of up and coming stars featured on this card really help WrestleMania V keep its value. Hogan and Savage still feels super important and cool, and just meant so much for the promotion and industry.
When the Mega Powers explode is a match that every wrestling fan should see at least once. There is so much history and story wrapped into that match, that you will see why wrestling exploded when it did. It's two of the most legendary characters in history meeting on the biggest stage in the industry in their prime.