WWE: WrestleMania 7 Recap – March 24, 1991 | MatMagMania

WrestleMania 7: It’s the Gulf War one! After the Ultimate Warrior’s run as World Champion hadn’t done the kind of business the WWF had hoped they pivoted to a controversial new angle. Sgt Slaughter, an American hero so patriotic he is a canonical part of the G.I. Joe universe, turned his back on the USA. Not only did this cause plenty of controversy, it also gave the company an excuse for moving to a smaller venue. After selling nowhere near enough tickets to fill the LA Memorial Coliseum, which would have held around 90k if full, the WWF used security concerns as a cover for moving to the Memorial Sports Arena. At 16,158, it was a big step down but meant they at least filled the space.

Willie Nelson kicks the show off with ‘America the Beautiful’. He’s wearing a WWF belt of some description. Commentary is generally going to be Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenan, with Jesse Ventura missing for the first time in the event’s history. Heenan does still manage at ringside in a couple of matches, so stand-ins appear. Jim Duggan is out for the opener.

WrestleMania 7: The Rockers vs The Barbarian & Haku

Speed versus size. The Barbarian & Haku don’t get a proper entrance, but the Rockers get a big reaction, their energy and appearance still marking them out. Haku & Shawn Michaels start things out, Haku might be a bit thicker but there’s not too much of a size difference between them. It’s the Barbarian who brings the sheer size.

The Rockers are full of double teaming, double kip ups, double superkicks, very visually interesting stuff. Heenan instructs his clients to slow things down, something they largely manage to do. Double teaming from the Heenan duo levels the playing field a little, isolating Jannetty. It’s a pretty fun match to watch, even when it gets slow it keeps moving along without any truly glacial moments. Jannetty takes an absolute battering for a long stretch, finally getting out after the Barbarian gets cocky and misses a top rope dive. A great run for Michaels ends with the Rockers picking up the win.

It’s back backstage to this year’s celebrity guests, Regis Philbin, Marla Maples and Alex Trebek. Philbin and Trebek are comfortable, Maples a bit stiff.

WrestleMania 7: The Texas Tornado vs Dino Bravo

Dino Bravo has been a staple of WrestleMania to this point, usually facing someone who the company care about more. This time it’s the Texas Tornado, who does get announced as Kerry Von Erich despite the graphic not saying that.

Von Erich gets attacked whilst he still has his long jacket on and Bravo gets going as if he knows they don’t have long to impress. Bravo hits the side suplex which usually beat his opponents but the Tornado kicks out. Von Erich locks in the patented Von Erich claw hold and then hits a spinning punch for the win. A fairly simple match but at least it never got boring.

A cut backstage to a terrifying close up of the Warlord’s gurning face, before he and Slick cut a promo about the following match against the British Bulldog. It’s Bulldogs response next, he and Gene Okerlund kneeling on the ground alongside Bulldogs mascot, Winston, who is a bulldog.

WrestleMania 7: The British Bulldog vs The Warlord

Bulldog is announced as being from Leeds, something that must have confused the proud Lancastrian Bulldog. Two incredibly jacked muscular dudes running into each other in the early going but they both move fairly quickly. It’s not as lumbering as a match between body guys would have been a few years earlier. It does slow down a little as the Warlord starts to build towards his Full Nelson Hold but Bulldog livens things up by throwing in a dropkick. The two men struggle to pick the other up for a slam and jockey for position until the Full Nelson gets applied. After a bit of a struggle Bulldog fights out of the hold and hits the powerslam on the Warlord for the victory.

A surprisingly fun match between these two, they played to both men’s strength and managed to neither go too short or too long.

The Nasty Boys are backstage, a lot of shouting, laughing and weird haircuts all at once. Bret Hart & Jim Neidhart respond with their own shouting.

WrestleMania 7: The Hart Foundation (Bret Hart & Jim Neidhart) vs The Nasty Boys (Jerry Sags & Brian Knobbs) – WWF Tag Team Championships

The final appearance at WrestleMania for the original Hart Foundation duo defending their titles against the only recently debuted Nasty Boys. After barely 3 months in the company the Nasty Boys had become number one contenders and this is a big stage for them to make it to so early in their run.
The Nasty Boys are hardly technical masters, they’re pretty sloppy brawlers for the most part, but the Hart Foundation are a good contrast to hide those flaws. Neidhart can brawl along with the Nasty Boys, and Bret brings the smoothness to sand off the edges. It’s a nice and even contest for the most part. The crowd are clearly more into the Hart foundation than the Nasty Boys and there are some dips when Sags & Knobbs are on top. Jimmy Hart isn’t using his usual megaphone but he’s still making plenty of noise. Bret takes an awful lot of punishment in the middle third of the match, a touch too much maybe as it drags the pace down. When he finally tags out, the referee is distracted and doesn’t see it, which leads into a sequence where the Nasty Boys mess up a megaphone sneak attack and allow Neidhart to get a run in.

A ’Hart Attack’ from the Hart Foundation almost leads to a pinfall but Bret accidentally draws the referee’s attention away long enough to allow the Nasty Boys a chance to use the Megaphone. They pin to win and become the champions. A good match to send off the original Hart Foundation.

WrestleMania 7: Jake Roberts vs Rick Martel – Blindfold match

Martel had sprayed Roberts in the eyes with his perfume ‘Arrogance’, blinding the Snake and leading us to one of the stranger gimmick matches in event history. It’s a blindfold match, neither man will be able to see what they’re doing due to a bag over their head.

It looks exactly like two men who can’t see trying to wrestle. Roberts uses the crowd noise to try and guide him towards Martel. It may not resemble much of a match at all but it’s a hell of a slapstick spectacle. If you can adapt to the less than serious it’s genuinely entertaining stuff. Especially as Monsoon and Heenan play along on commentary and the crowd sound into it. Needs to be seen to be believed.

Martel swinging a steel chair around wildly on the outside resembles one of the matches in recent years where someone faces an invisible opponent. Roberts manages to hit his DDT, and after a moment where he has to feel his way to Martel, Roberts pins to win.
Honestly one of the more entertaining spectacles you’ll see if you can cope with the less than serious it’s a riot.

Marla Maples is backstage trying to get an interview with the Nasty Boys but it quickly becomes a big pile of noise.

WrestleMania 7: The Undertaker vs Jimmy Snuka

The Undertaker was just 5 months into his legendary run and this is the first time he would appear at WrestleMania, setting the stage for his historic streak of 21 straight victories. This is still the slower moving and cartoony early incarnation of the Undertaker and Snuka is clearly being fed to him as a major name who can help build this newcomer.

It’s all Undertaker, a big showcase for the big man. He shows spurts of the agility that stands out from such a big human. Snuka gets some offensive moves in but Undertaker just absorbs it and goes back on the attack. Undertaker hits the ‘Tombstone piledriver’ and gets an establishing win for his still fairly new career. It’s not a blow away match by any stretch but it’s historical importance makes it probably worth a look.

Undertaker Streak: 1-0

WrestleMania 7: The Ultimate Warrior vs Randy Savage – Retirement match

A tangled and multi month feud between the two built primarily around Warrior’s refusal to give Savage a shot at the World Title when he was champion. Savage instead chose to cost the Warrior the title against Sgt Slaughter back at the Royal Rumble as a way of finally getting the match with Warrior. As a way of raising the stakes though, this is a retirement match, the loser’s career is over.
A good spot from Bobby Heenan as Miss Elizabeth is seen at ringside, her estrangement from Savage still very much in play.

An unusual entrance for Warrior, who walks down to the ring instead of running down at full pelt. Much like most Warrior matches, it rises and falls on the strength of his opponent to bring something decent out of him. Savage is one of the best for that.

There’s plenty of stalling before they first lock up, Savage bouncing off Warrior and making the relatively simple offense look decent. As you might imagine, the match looks better when Savage is in control, but he does a good job of running scared when Warrior is on top. Queen Sherri does a good job of interjecting herself when the match spills to the floor, Warrior even puts his hands on her at one point.

Given how limited Warrior is in comparison to Savage, they do a good job of constructing a compelling back and forth narrative. The stakes hanging over it certainly help level up the intensity. Warrior has the match won at one point but Sherri has the attention of the referee, who is soon after knocked down for a spell. Sherri goes to hit Warrior with her shoe but hits Savage instead, Warrior not taking advantage and letting Savage stay alive in the match. There is an opening for both men to win but it’s Savage who gets closest, five straight diving elbows looks to have ended the Warrior. Remarkably, Warrior kicks out, surely the first time someone had kicked out from so much of Savage’s signature offense. Warrior does his own version of ‘Hulking up’ (Warrior-ing up?). He hits a run of clotheslines, the gorilla press, and the splash but Savage kicks out. Both men now having kicked out from the best the other can give, the layout starts to resemble that of a main event in more recent times.

Warrior looks to have some kind of emotional crisis for a minute, almost walking away form the ring and sacrificing the match. Savage doesn’t just leave him to it and stops him, making a big mistake and ending up taking a dive right onto the crowd barrier. Warrior gets Savage back in the ring and hits successive shoulder tackles (Monsoon calls them as spears but they’re not). After three of them in a row, Warrior pins Savage with a single foot on the chest to win and retire Savage. One of the better matches on the night, especially given how limited Warrior was and how much Savage got out of him.

Post-match, Sherri started to berate Savage for losing and costing her a meal ticket. She starts to attack him before Miss Elizabeth runs down from her spot in the crowd and cuts her off. Elizabeth throws Sherri out of the ring and emotionally reunites with Savage after over two years apart. This would to an on-screen wedding between the two later that year (years after their marriage in real life) and a face turn for Savage even as he transitioned to commentary.

Savage wouldn’t stay retired for too long, getting back in the ring in the WWF before going on to a spell in WCW later in the decade. The reunion of Savage and Elizabeth is one of the more emotionally uplifting moments of the period, a long running story with a satisfying conclusion. The many crying faces in the crowd tell you exactly how much people cared. Savage holding the ropes for Elizabeth after years of it being the other way around was a beautiful little detail.

Bit of an intermission, Monsoon & Heenan break down the card and the we hear from Regis Philbin, who tries to get an interview with the Undertaker, who just measures him for a coffin instead. We move to Alex Trebek instead, who is with Demolition and Mr. Fuji. It’s short and full of growling from Demolition. Philbin tries to interview Tenryu and Kitao, who don’t respond at all either until Philbin just names Japanese brands to them (and Columbia pictures). We’re just throwing back and forth for a bit, back to Trebek, who’s with Jake Roberts this time. Heenan takes credit for setting up the awkward interviews.

WrestleMania 7: Demolition (Smash & Crush) vs Genichiro Tenryu & Koji Kitao

One of the stranger matches on paper as the reformed Demolition (Crush replacing Ax) face two talents on loan from Super World of Sports in Japan.  Demolition have changed their line-up and are back with their original manager Mr Fuji in a strange little detail given how long they spent fighting against him and his other clients.

Sneak attack from Demolition to start and they dominate the early going. Most of the commentary is slightly awkward back and forth where Heenan can’t get the Japanese wrestlers names right, or stop himself making general references to their Japanese-ness. Even after a brief bright spot from Tenryu, it’s still primarily Demolition for the most part until Smash gets isolated. A single powerbomb from Tenryu and he and Kitao pick up the win. A short, not all that interesting match that mostly just illustrates Demolition had fallen since their record setting title reigns in their first incarnation.

Backstage to the Big Boss Man, who is chasing down Mr Perfect, Bobby Heenan and the Intercontinental Championship, but mostly fighting for the honour of his mother, who Heenan has been insulting. Heenan and Perfect respond, Heenan making reference to the still very recent beating of Rodney King by the LAPD.

WrestleMania 7: Mr Perfect vs Big Boss Man – WWF Intercontinental Championship

With Heenan joining Perfect at ringside, he is replaced on commentary for this match by Lord Alfred Hayes. Boss Man starts the match off by spitting in the face of Perfect, who responds by slapping him.
One of Perfect’s defining characteristics in the ring was his bumping, always bouncing around for his opponent. This is shown off early on as he takes a spinning fall to the floor from a simple slap. A lot of good pace from the Big Boss Man, for a sizeable man he had a hell of a lot of agility. The exuberance of Perfect’s bumping is occasionally comical. But it does a good job of making Boss Man look dangerous, Boss Man giving plenty back to Perfect too. The pace ebbs and flows, some of the holds are fairly long, but they’re generally punctuated by more interesting sequences.

Perfect goes for a dive but is cut off by Boss Man getting a boot right into his face. Boss Man takes advantage by pulling Perfect crotch first into the ring post from the outside, before letting Heenan distract him. With Heenan sneakily attacking Boss Man, Andre the Giant makes an appearance to scare Heenan away. There are a lot of moving pieces in play, with a turnbuckle having been exposed in the ring and Andre carrying the Intercontinental title belt at ringside. When perfect tries to get the physical belt back, Andre levels him with it.

It looks like Boss Man might pick up the win, but the rest of the Heenan Family run down to cause a disqualification. It’s a disappointing finish to a decent match but it leads into Andre the Giant getting his hands on the Heenan family one more time. This would mark his final appearance at WrestleMania, and it marks a nice second chapter to his farewell to the company.

WrestleMania 7: Earthquake vs Greg Valentine

Earthquake may have failed to truly beat Hulk Hogan in their feud the previous year but he is still being warmed up as a major monster.

Just after his entrance, we get a brief chat with Donald Trump, who says nothing, Chuck Norris, who says some things, and Henry Winkler, who shows some love to the Ultimate Warrior. Lou Ferrigno is here as well. What a strange mix of people, especially as it came over the entrance of Greg Valentine, complete with music blaring.

Valentine is back to his blonde hair, after spending the previous years event dressed as Elvis, but he’s not here for long. He does get to kick out of some Earthquake offense and get some strikes in of his own but it’s otherwise fairly one sided. Valentine tries to go for a ‘Figure Four’ submission but gets distracted by Jimmy Hart on the outside, who sets Earthquake up for the big sit and the win.

Sean Mooney is backstage with the Legion of Doom. After years of trying to get their own powerhouse tag team, the WWF now had the biggest and best in Animal & Hawk. They aren’t joined by Paul Ellering yet but it’s a good enough intense promo.

WrestleMania 7: The Legion of Doom (Animal & Hawk) vs Power and Glory (Paul Roma & Hercules)

The Legion of Doom were already fairly well established in the company, having joined in the summer of the previous year, but they hadn’t got to the tag titles yet. As a consolation prize they get to eat Paul Roma and Hercules for a light supper. Power & Glory get one or two moves in but then it’s all LoD. The ‘Doomsday Device’, the pin, and we move on.

WrestleMania 7: Ted DiBiase vs Virgil

Virgil had been the manservant for Ted DiBiase for years at this point, and had finally had enough and fought back against his abusive boss. Roddy Piper has been assisting Virgil in this quest for justice and joins Virgil at ringside. Piper even gets a full entrance, in case you were wondering who the most interesting person in that corner is, Virgil doesn’t get music when he makes his way out. Given this a grudge match it is strange to see DiBiase’s prized Million Dollar Title isn’t on the line.

A lot of punching and ‘boxing’ footwork from Virgil, DiBiase giving him a lot. Piper is at ringside, and carrying a crutch, so he doesn’t get physically involved, but he’s clearly a major focus. Virgil looks fine for someone who is canonically supposed to be stupid, DiBiase is clearly guiding him but it’s not bad.
DiBiase eventually lets Piper distract him too much on the outside, and he gets counted out to hand Virgil the victory. A decent enough match that got bogged down in the Piper vs DiBiase conflict instead of letting Virgil’s redemption happen naturally.

Post-match DiBiase beats up both Virgil and Piper, and gets joined by Sherri, who has clearly moved on quickly from her break up with Randy Savage earlier in the night.

Sean Mooney throws to a video package of Sgt Slaughter and General Adnan before interviewing the two men in person. Adnan speaks entirely in Arabic before Slaughter gets to show off how long he can talk without blinking.

WrestleMania 7: Tito Santana vs The Mountie

The traditional pre-main event palette cleanser. The Mountie was only a few months into his new run after morphing from Jacques Rougeau. With no Jesse Ventura on commentary, there’s no one to call Tito Santana ‘Chico’, but Heenan makes up for it with a joke about the border.
Santana gets the bulk of the offense, making the Mountie beg off and run away and generally beating him around. The referee gets distracted though and Mountie involves his cattle prod for a quick, dirty win. Heenan makes a reference to Mexican food causing abdominal issues and we move straight on.

Hogan is backstage with Gene Okerlund and gets to respond to Slaughter and Adnan from earlier. He threatens some new battleplans before we see a clip of Hogan’s match with General Adnan. It’s an even more ‘Pro-USA’ promo than the usual stuff from Hogan but otherwise, a typical Hogan promo.

WrestleMania 7: Sgt. Slaughter vs Hulk Hogan – WWF Championship

One of the most memorable, and controversial, storylines of the era. Sgt Slaughter had been an American hero for the bulk of his career, helped by his drill Sergeant persona and G.I. Joe crossover. So when he returned to the WWF and immediately turned his back on the USA in favour of becoming an Iraqi sympathiser and admirer of Saddam Hussein it was nuclear. Add in the Gulf War that was literally seeing US soldiers fighting against Iraq at the exact time this angle was happening, and you can see why this was such a headline grabber.

Alex Trebek is back out as guest ring announcer, Marla Maples is timekeeper and Regis Philbin is joining the commentary table.

Sgt. Slaughter is out first despite being the champion, something that’s always strange to see, but it does mean that Hogan can get the big heroes reception. In case you hadn’t understood the symbolism going on, Hogan comes out with a huge US flag in hand and a matching bandana.

A lot of stalling at the beginning, as was the style at the time. Pretty intense lockups as both men slowly jockey for position. They fight to the outside and it begins a bit more of a brawl, Slaughter showing his cowardice and underhanded tactics to fight back against the clearly superior Hogan. By this point in Mania history, the formula for Hogan main events was a bit stale. It’s the clearly better and more upstanding Hogan beating a slimy and inferior opponent, who can only get one up on Hogan by using sneak tactics. It’s still getting a decent reaction in the arena but it’s a bit dull to watch back today.

Hogan dominates a lot of the match but chooses to keep the beating on Slaughter instead of trying to win the match. It almost gets such an egregious beat down that Slaughter starts to look sympathetic. Hogan uncharacteristically goes to the ropes twice in a row, which breaks his momentum. Almost like it was a daft idea. Slaughter starts to use a chair on Hogan on the outside and even chokes Hogan with a cable. The referee is very lenient with this. This leads into Slaughter dominating for a long portion. Hogan is locked in a submission, centimetres from the ropes, but takes over a minute to actually reach out and touch them to break the hold. Slaughter has Hogan pinned for at least a 12 count but General Adnan has the referee distracted as both sides of the match start to look stupid. Hogan takes a steel chair to the head and is bleeding, something that at least adds a frisson of danger to this otherwise bland contest.

Hogan finally Hulks Up after getting beaten to a bloody pulp. He gets woken up by having the Iraqi flag laid over him and does his usual routine. Big Boot. Leg Drop. Hogan Wins.
A big win for the ‘yay America’ crowd for sure, but otherwise a dull match that dragged on and on, the formula for these Hogan matches was exposed by this point.


It’s a step up from previous shows but doesn’t quite feel right just yet. Still one or two too many short matches or disappointing finishes to be a truly satisfying event. There are some gems though, Martel vs Roberts in particular is a slapstick delight.

Heenan and Monsoon on commentary are great. They work very well together in a different way to Monsoon and Ventura in previous years. Commentary being at ringside also gives their insights a bit more of an edge than when they were stuck up in the rafters before.

All in all it’s a decent show, even if the ‘Hogan must pose’ act at the end is getting tiresome by this point. Worth a watch.

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