Date: 29th March, 1987
Venue: Pontiac Silverdome
City: Pontiac, MI
Commentators: Gorilla Monsoon, Bobby “The Brain” Heenan,
Jesse “The Body” Ventura, Bob Uecker & Mary Hart
Theme Song: “Who’s Zoomin’ Who” by Aretha Franklin
The main feud stemmed from André the Giant’s turn and betrayal of his ally, the WWF Champion Hulk Hogan, which began when Hogan was presented a trophy for being the WWF Champion for three years, and André, his good friend, came out to congratulate him. Shortly afterwards, André was presented a slightly smaller trophy for being “undefeated in the WWF for 15 years” and Hogan came out to congratulate André, but ended up being the focal point of the interview. Annoyed by this, André walked out during Hogan’s congratulation speech and not long after that, on an edition of the interview segment Piper’s Pit, Bobby Heenan, a long-time Hogan adversary, announced himself to be André’s new manager. André then challenged Hogan to a title match at WrestleMania III and attacked Hogan, ripping off Hogan’s T-shirt and crucifix necklace.
Another main feud leading up to the event was between Ricky Steamboat and the Intercontinental Champion Randy Savage. The feud began during a title match between the two when Savage attacked Steamboat as he greeted fans at ringside. Savage then pushed Steamboat over the security rail and delivered an elbow shot that thrust Steamboat’s throat into the rail and dropped the ring bell onto his throat from the top rope, injuring his larynx and sending him to the hospital. This resulted in a long, bitter feud that lasted for six months, included several bloody match-ups and finally culminated at WrestleMania. George “The Animal” Steele was in Steamboat’s corner, having developed a crush on Savage’s valet, Miss Elizabeth.
Billy Jack Haynes and Hercules Hernandez’ feud started when Bobby Heenan continuously taunted Haynes, telling him that Hercules was the real master of the full nelson; which came to a boiling point when Hercules attacked Haynes on an edition of Superstars of Wrestling, which led to their match at WrestleMania. This battle was advertised as the “Full Nelson Challenge.”
Another heated feud leading up to this event was between Harley Race and the Junkyard Dog. When The WWF Wrestling Classic became the King of the Ring tournament, Harley Race went on to win the tournament and began referring to himself as “King” Harley Race, and coming to the ring in a royal crown and cape to the ceremonial accompaniment of the classical music piece “Great Gates of Kiev” by Modest Mussorgsky. After each of his victories, Race forced his defeated opponent to “bow and kneel” before him. Usually, Race’s manager, Bobby Heenan, forced the defeated opponent to “bow and kneel” by grabbing his hair. Junkyard Dog protested Race’s self-proclaimed monarchy in the WWF and stated there would never be a complete ruler in the WWF, which led to a match on Saturday Night’s Main Event, in which the King and his manager both tried to make Junkyard Dog bow for them. This set the stage for the WrestleMania match, which included the stipulation that the loser had to bow to the winner.
On January 26, 1987, the British Bulldogs lost the WWF Tag Team Championship to The Hart Foundation in a match that saw the Dynamite Kid so debilitated that he was carried to the ring by Davey Boy Smith and did not see much physical action. Danny Davis was the referee and allowed The Hart Foundation to use illegal double-team maneuvers. After being given some time off to recuperate, the Bulldogs continued their rivalry with The Hart Foundation when they teamed up with Tito Santana against the Foundation and the referee-turned-wrestler Danny Davis in a six-man tag team match at WrestleMania III.
Rock singer Alice Cooper was in Jake “The Snake” Roberts’ corner during his match with The Honky Tonk Man. The Honky Tonk Man had attacked Roberts with a guitar on Roberts’ interview segment The Snake Pit, which legitimately injured Roberts’ neck. This event began Roberts’ turn into a babyface as well as the feud between the wrestlers, which culminated in their WrestleMania match.
The feud between Adrian Adonis and Roddy Piper began when, following a leave of absence from the WWF, Piper returned to find his Piper’s Pit segment replaced by The Flower Shop, a segment hosted by then-effeminate wrestler Adrian Adonis. Piper, who returned as a face, spent weeks crashing Adonis’ show and trading insults, leading to a “showdown” between the two segments that ended with Piper being assaulted and humiliated by Adonis, Piper’s former bodyguard “Cowboy” Bob Orton, and Don Muraco. The trio left Piper with his face covered in red lipstick, lying in the middle of the remnants of the destroyed Piper’s Pit set. In response, Piper stormed the set of Adonis’ show and destroyed it with a baseball bat. This led to their Hair vs. Hair match at WrestleMania III, which was billed as Piper’s retirement match from wrestling before becoming a full-time actor.
The Can-Am Connection defeated Bob Orton and The Magnificent Muraco (with Mr. Fuji) (05:37)
Billy Jack Haynes fought Hercules (with Bobby Heenan) to a double countout (07:53)
Mixed Tag Team Match
Hillbilly Jim, The Haiti Kid and Little Beaver defeated King Kong Bundy, Little Tokyo and Lord Littlebrook by disqualification (04:23)
Loser Must Bow Match
Harley Race (with Bobby Heenan and The Fabulous Moolah) defeated The Junkyard Dog (03:22)
The Dream Team (with Johnny Valiant and Dino Bravo) defeated The Fabulous Rougeaus (04:04)
Hair vs. Hair Match
Roddy Piper defeated Adrian Adonis (with Jimmy Hart) (06:14)
Six Man Tag Team Match
The Hart Foundation and Danny Davis (with Jimmy Hart) defeated The British Bulldogs and Tito Santana (08:52)
Butch Reed (with Slick) defeated Koko B. Ware (03:39)
Ricky Steamboat (with George Steele) defeated Randy Savage (c) (with Miss Elizabeth) (14:36)
The Honky Tonk Man (with Jimmy Hart) defeated Jake Roberts (with Alice Cooper) (07:05)
The Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff (with Slick) defeated The Killer Bees by disqualification (05:44)
Hulk Hogan (c) defeated André the Giant (with Bobby Heenan) (12:02)
(c) – refers to the champion(s) heading into the match
Roddy Piper went on to film Hell Comes to Frogtown and They Live and made sporadic appearances on television before finally returning to host a Piper’s Pit segment at WrestleMania V. Piper continued to be active in professional wrestling at various points for more than two decades. The first televised match between André and Hulk Hogan after WrestleMania III was on The Main Event on NBC on February 5, 1988, drawing a record 33 million viewers, making it the most watched match in North American professional wrestling history. The angle surrounding this match was that after winning the match, André ended Hogan’s four-year reign as WWF champion with the help of a screwjob finish involving twin referees Earl and Dave Hebner. Their feud culminated in a rematch at WrestleMania IV as part of a tournament to crown a new champion (both ended up being disqualified during the match for using a steel chair in front of referee Joey Marella). The Hogan/Andre match at WrestleMania IV was the first ever WrestleMania rematch.
Randy Savage continued to challenge Ricky Steamboat for the Intercontinental title in rematches at house shows across the country. Steamboat eventually lost the title to The Honky Tonk Man, and not long after, Savage became a babyface and feuded with Honky Tonk over the title.
Twenty years later, WrestleMania 23 celebrated WrestleMania III by returning to the Detroit metropolitan area, showing footage from WrestleMania III, having Aretha Franklin (“Who’s Zoomin’ Who?” by Franklin was the theme song to WrestleMania III) sing “America the Beautiful,” and having Kane scoop slam The Great Khali.