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30 Days of WrestleMania: Looking back at WrestleMania III

Because of the WWE Network, fans can now watch every single WrestleMania from start to finish.

30 Days of WrestleMania: Looking back at WrestleMania III

World Wrestling Federation Heavyweight Champion Hulk Hogan, right, faces off against Andre the Giant at a New York press conference on Feb. 3, 1988 to promote their upcoming bout on "The Main Event," an NBC prime time special to be aired Feb. 5th. (Richard Drew/AP file)
World Wrestling Federation Heavyweight Champion Hulk Hogan, right, faces off against Andre the Giant at a New York press conference on Feb. 3, 1988 to promote their upcoming bout on "The Main Event," an NBC prime time special to be aired Feb. 5th. (Richard Drew/AP file)

Because of the WWE Network, fans can now watch every single WrestleMania from start to finish.

So, for 30 days leading up to WrestleMania XXX, we will take an extensive look back at each event from the very first, to the most recent.

Here's the WrestleManias we've covered so far:

WM I | WM II |

WrestleMania III

Date: March 29, 1987

Venue: Pontiac Silverdome, Pontiac, Mich.

Attendance: 93,173

Match Results:

Can Am Connection (Rick Martel & Tom Zenk) def. Cowboy Bob Orton & “Magnificent” Muraco

Full Nelson Challenge – Billy Jack Haynes vs. Hercules went to double count-out

Hillbilly Jim, Little Beaver & The Haiti Kid def. King Kong Bundy, Lord Littlebrook & Little Tokyo by disqualification

Loser Bows Match – King Harley Race w/Bobby “The Brain” Heenan and Fabulous Moolah def. Junkyard Dog

The Dream Team (Brutus Beefcake & Greg “The Hammer” Valentine) w/Luscious Johnny Valiant and Dino Bravo def. The Rougeau Brothers (Jacques & Raymond)

“Rowdy” Roddy Piper def. “Adorable” Adrian Adonis w/Jimmy Hart

Hart Foundation (Bret Hart & Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart) & “Dangerous” Danny Davis w/ Jimmy Hart def. British Bulldogs (Davey Smith & Dynamite Kid) & Tito Santana

“The Natural” Butch Reed w/Slick def. Koko B. Ware

Intercontinental Championship – Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat w/ George “The Animal” Steele def. Randy “Macho Man” Savage w/Elizabeth

Honky Tonk Man w/ Jimmy Hart def. Jake “The Snake” Roberts w/Alice Cooper

Nikolai Volkoff & Iron Sheik w/Slick def. Killer Bees (“Jumpin’” Jim Brunzell & B. Brian Blair) by disqualification

WWE Championship Hulk Hogan def. Andre the Giant w/Bobby “The Brain” Heenan

Observations:

 - WrestleMania III boasted celebrities, but they played a much smaller role than they did the year before. WWE took a different approach to the celebrities this time around, as it placed celebrities in their comfort zones. The two main stars on this show were former baseball announcer/actor Bob Uecker and Mary Hart, the former host of Entertainment Tonight. The best part about Uecker and Hart was that they both had experience being behind live microphones — Uecker as a baseball announcer and Hart as a television host. They both played their roles perfectly and never seemed to get in the way, they simply added to the show. Alice Cooper accompanied Jake “The Snake” Roberts to the ring and was limited in his role as well. He stayed out of the way, did what he supposed to do and that’s it. The celebrities were used properly this time around.

- Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant is a match that could never happen today because the in-ring style so much different today than it was back in 1987. That match wasn’t about the quality of the action in the ring. That match was about the story leading up the match and story Hogan and Andre told during the ring. It was the story and characters that lead that program and the stories and the characters that put more 90,000 butts in the seats. Today, people would enjoy the story, but the match itself may bore today’s fans, which is a shame. Matches like this are what professional wrestling is built upon — the suspension of disbelief and getting caught up in the story. Is the match a technical masterpiece? Probably not, but it did it’s job. It created enough of a fervor that put nearly 100,000 in one place at one time and elevated not only the WWE, but the entire wrestling business in one fell swoop.

- Now if you action personified (as Gorilla Monsoon would say), look no further than the Randy Savage-Ricky Steamboat match. No matter how many years go by, this is still a classic match. It holds up even until this day. However, it wasn’t all about the action. Because the story leading up to the match made the action mean even more.  This match had the emotional investment and the action to go along with it. It also marked the first time that an undercard match at WrestleMania outperformed its spot on the card. Watching the show from beginning to end also showed just far ahead of its time this match was. The rest of the card was filled with big, lumbering guys who kicked and punched their through matches. There were some occasional suplexes thrown in, but nothing like what Savage and Steamboat put together. It started fast right from the opening and rarely slowed down before it was over. Today’s fan see this type of pace on an almost weekly basis, but back then it was rare, especially in the WWE where big men ruled the roost.  

- WrestleMania III wasn’t just a showcase for the wrestlers, but it was also a showcase for the plethora of managers as well. There were five different managers on the card that night (Bobby Heenan, Jimmy Hart, Johnny Valiant, Slick and Mr. Fuji) and three of them appeared in more than one match. As usual, Heenan was among the leaders of this pack with appearances in three separate matches, including the main event. But a special mention has to go to Hart who also appeared in three matches and wore three different jackets to resemble whomever he was managing. Even more crazy was that he managed Adrian Adonis in his match against Roddy Piper and took a beating, but for the very next match not only was he managing the Hart Foundation, he somehow had on a different jacket. He even helped his team win the match. Kudos must go to Slick as well who managed Butch Reed and had his clothes torn off only to come out with the Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff later in the show with the same torn up outfit. Watching this only made me yearn for the days of the heel manager. They always added an extra dimension to the match that usually worked.

- Speaking of Adonis, his match against Piper was very interesting given where the two men went after that night. For Adonis, it proved to be one of his final appearances in WWE before leaving the company. Unfortunately, he tragically died in a car accident in 1988. As for Piper, the match was billed as his retirement match, as he was going to pursue a full-time career in acting. One of his major projects was John Carpenter’s “They Live”, which was released on Nov. 4, 1988, exactly four months after Adonis died.

- For the first time at WrestleMania, WWE used pre-match videos that chronicled the stories of the big matches. These didn’t have all the bells and whistles WWE’s video productions do today, but they served their purpose for that time.

- Seeing the Hart Foundation with the WWE Tag Team Championship belts only made me hate the current ones even more. The old ones were beautiful with color and a unique shape. I’m always a sucker for a globe with color on the belts and they had a very nice size to them as well. They looked important. The ones The Usos are carrying today look like pennies with centurion helmets on them. They are ugly, plain and simple. The WWE brought back the best version of the Intercontinental Championship a couple of years ago. Why not bring back the best version of tag titles as well. I saw a lot more people walking around with Intercontinental title belts at shows when it brought back the old and I’m sure people would do the same it brought back the old tag titles.

- Johnny Valiant, Dino Bravo and Greg “The Hammer” Valentine turned on Brutus Beefcake after their match. They didn’t really do much besides leave the ring without him, even though the Dream Team won the match. This was enough to turn Beefcake into babyface and make him want to help Piper shave Adonis’ head after their match. Adonis brought a big pair sheers to the ring to signify that he was going to cut Piper’s hair after the match, but Beefcake eventually grabbed them. From then on, Beefcake became the “The Barber” and came to the ring with a big pair of sheers.

- Was it me or were the Killer Bees wearing Nike Dunks in the ring? I don’t know if they did that all the time, but they looked awesome in the ring and matched their gear perfect.

Vaughn Johnson Sports Producer
About this blog
The Squared Circle is a one-stop shop of pro wrestling news, recaps and observations. You can also enjoy interviews with some of your favorite stars from the world of professional wrestling both nationally and locally. Reach Vaughn at vjohnson@philly.com.

Vaughn Johnson Sports Producer
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