Induction: Wrestlemania IV – Crapped out in Atlantic City

42 Submitted by on Thu, 29 March 2018, 20:00

WWF, 1988

Anyone who knows wrestling will tell you that Wrestlemania is WWE’s biggest pay-per-view every year. Those same people will tell you that Starrcade was NWA and WCW’s biggest pay-per-view every year.

But unlike Wrestlemania, Starrcade often fell victim to bizarre promotional ideas that transformed the show into one giant gimmick. Starrcade ’89 consisted solely of two round-robin tournaments with a points systems to determine the ultimate winners.

Starrcade ’90 centered around a tag team tournament with largely unknown teams from around the world. Starrcade ’91 was a “Lethal Lottery” consisting of nothing but random pairings of wrestlers competing in tag matches, with a battle royal for a main event. Starrcade ’95 was a “US vs. Japan” best-of-seven series. And Starrcade ’97 was held under the theme, “Card Subject to Change”.

But Wrestlemania? Sure, there have been a few strange choices made over the years (Wrestlemania 15 revolving around who would referee the main event, Wrestlemania 2000 having no regular one-on-one matches), but there has never been any unifying theme officially imposed on WWE’s biggest show that would keep its biggest stars from settling their scores.

Except, of course, for Wrestlemania IV, which was dominated almost completely by a bloated 14-man tournament for the WWF title, where nearly every match lacked any kind of backstory between the randomly-competing participants.

Growing up, Wrestlemania IV was the one WWF tape I never rented from the neighborhood video store, as I wasn’t sure whether I’d be charged double for the two-VHS set and was too embarrassed to ask. I don’t give my younger self enough credit, it turns out.

I know Wrestlemanias these days shatter the six-hour mark; regardless, the three-and-a-half hour Wrestlemania IV somehow remains the longest Mania ever, thanks to an ungodly 16 matches ranging in quality from terrible to passable.

But the show’s problems begin in the opening sequence, which claims that the event emanates from Trump Plaza Hotel & Casino, when in fact it is held in the Atlantic City Convention Hall across the street.

That’s like billing a Wrestlemania site as “New York/New Jersey” instead of East Rutherford.

And sure, Wrestlemania 4 is *sponsored* by Trump Plaza, but that doesn’t mean that Wrestlemania 34 will be held at Snickers, now does it?

After Gladys Knight sings a patriotic medley in this Nascar-inspired sweater, the action begins with a 20-man battle royal.

An impossibly tan Bob Uecker joins the commentary team and breaks kayfabe on the show’s actual venue…

…while Gorilla, when he’s not calling the event, “a happening”, points out that the Battle Royal participants weren’t important enough to be booked for anything else on the card.

JYD, as always, wears the word “THUMP” on his butt. You’d think he would have put “TRUMP” on there instead for this occasion.

Speaking of fashion, a very puffy Bret Hart wears a leotard on this night.

Still, that’s better fashion sense than George Steele…

…who wears one of those mesh shirts Jeff Hardy would later wear.

Scratch that. He’s actually not wearing a shirt at all.

The battle royal comes down to Bad News Brown and Bret Hart, who  teamed up to eliminate the last few opponents. Unfortunately, Bret forgets how battle royals work and thinks the match is over…

…leaving him easy pickings for elimination by his former Stampede colleague.

As you would expect, Bret destroys the prize trophy. The battle royal wasn’t much, but at least it would have provided a nice change of pace from the never-ending barrage of singles matches – would have, I say, because instead it was the opening match.

Bob Uecker wisely bails out to track down Vanna White rather than get stuck in the announce booth watching the tournament…

…which Robin Leach of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous introduces in grand, Genius-like fashion by reading off a scroll.

And speaking of the rich and famous, the event’s guest of honor Donald Trump sits at ringside. Who would have thought that he would one day become one of the most powerful men on the planet by buying Raw?

The announcers talk over Howard Finkel’s explanation of the rules of the tournament, so they have to explain them over again. Jesse Ventura, for instance, thinks it’s important to inform viewers that only the winners advance – just in case they thought you could get to the finals by losing.

Also, the time limits for each match would be 15 minutes in the first round, 20 in the second, 30 in the third, and no time limit for the finals. So the tournament could potentially last nearly 6 hours, not including the finals. In reality, it would only feel that long.

Case in point: Ted DiBiase sets the tone for the rest of the evening by making a long entrance down a long aisle…

…then defeating Hacksaw in a non-descript match that you won’t believe lasts only five minutes.

But the bigger story is backstage, where Mean Gene stands in awe of Brutus Beefcake’s package.

Next up we get our first entrance music of the night, as Dino Bravo poses in the ring to “La Marseillaise”…

…while Don Muraco enters with Superstar Billy Graham to an instrumental version of “Superstar” – as in, “Jesus Christ Superstar.” At least no one’s calling him the King of Kings or anything.

Bravo pulls the referee into the way of a Muraco forearm, causing a ref bump.

When the referee comes to, he slaps Dino on the shoulder three times during a pin attempt. Bravo, thinking that the referee has somehow confused him for the canvas, believes he has gotten a three-count and celebrates…

…only to learn that he has lost by disqualification.

Next up is the match between Greg Valentine and Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat…

…who enters while holding his baby boy, Ricky “The Richie” Steamboat. If you’ll recall, Richie cost his dad the Intercontinental Title shortly after Wrestlemania 3 by being born.

The little guy may not know where he is, but Gorilla Monsoon imagines he knows it is “some kind of a happening.”

No one mentions that Earl Hebner, the impostor referee who screwed Hogan out of the title in the first place and started the whole controversy leading to tonight’s tournament, is officiating the match.

(And yes, that is Earl, not Dave)

Meanwhile, more than a year after favoring the Hart Foundation, Danny Davis still isn’t allowed to referee.

Surely Steamboat would win this match and go on to face Randy Savage in the second round – a rematch of their classic from the previous year’s Mania that would no doubt steal the show (and besides, Valentine doesn’t get warmed up until 30 minutes in, well beyond this match’s 15-minute time limit).

But in an effort to ensure that absolutely no memorable matches take place, the WWF has Valentine win by reversing a body press. It is at this moment that wrestling fans realize they should have just watched Clash of the Champions on TBS for free.

But Steamboat still gets to go on to the second round, right? In fact he does not, because, as Jesse Ventura so helpfully informed us at the beginning of the tournament, you can’t advance unless you win. Damn technicality.

For what I’m sure are unrelated reasons, Steamboat would leave the company within weeks.

Any hope of Macho Man squaring off with The Dragon may have just been extinguished, but fans can still look forward to Randy Savage versus…

…an opponent. In this case, it’s Butch Reed.

One of the only memorable things about this pay-per-view is Randy and Liz’s sartorial splendor (which is Ranallo-ese for “dressing good”).

Macho Man abruptly beats Reed in just over four minutes, as if Savage is trying to conserve his energy for some reason.

Bam Bam Bigelow enters to what sounds like the Saturday Night Live theme to take on One Man Gang.

Bam Bam seriously misinterprets the concept of a “cartwheel splash”…

…then falls victim to some trickery by Slick, landing on the floor and getting counted out within three minutes of the opening bell. Bigelow, who clearly paid attention to the rules of the tournament, is distraught because he doesn’t advance.

Hulk Hogan then cuts a standard promo about creating a massive seismic event by slamming Andre, then offering assistance to future president Donald Trump as he rescues Ivana, Ivanka, Eric, and Donald Jr. from falling to the bottom of the ocean.

D-O-N-

The final match of the first round sees Rick Rude take on Jake “The Snake” Roberts. Now, you’d think that with a feud as red-hot as Rude versus Roberts, there’s no way their match could fall flat, but their match on this night comes before their feud even started.

Rude and Roberts end up going to an unlikely time limit draw. Not unlikely given how aimlessly they work even as the time limit approaches, but unlikely in the sense that few wrestling matches have a time limit of exactly fifteen minutes, thirteen seconds.

Dave Meltzer would give it minus two stars (then again, he rated Hogan-Andre minus four stars, because Dave is a big baby sometimes).

But you don’t have to take the Observer’s word for it, as the live audience begins to chant, “Boring” after maybe the third chinlock.

Rick, despite the referee only counting to two, and despite his pin attempt on Roberts being the weakest you’ll ever see, thinks he has won, when in fact he and Jake have both lost.

After the first round of the tournament, the WWF wisely decides to break up the monotony of six straight singles matches by holding… a singles match. In this case, it’s a non-tournament bout between the mighty Hercules and the newcomer, The Ultimate Warrior.

Like so many before him on this night, Herc gets the jobber entrance, while Warrior storms to the ring sporting a headband from the McEnroe collection.

What should have been a short, four-and-a-half minute match turns into, by virtue of a blown-up Ultimate Warrior, a very long four-and-a-half minute match.

At the end of the plodding match, we get the old double-pin swerve where Warrior pops his shoulder up at the last second to gain the somewhat confusing victory. But if you can’t trust Dave Hebner’s evil twin to make the right call, who can you trust?

Hercules, like Rick Rude and Dino Bravo earlier in the broadcast, thinks he has won. He has not.

You know, anyone who has watched Wrestlemania IV all the way through has experienced whatever the opposite of time dilation is; what seems like minutes to an outside observer feels like hours to the WM4 viewer. It’s almost trivial for this event to be featured on a wrestling site when it should be carefully studied by the world’s top astrophysicists.

Luckily, at this point Vince has the good sense to give the viewers an intermission from this terribly boring event, but not before those same viewers get a chance to commemorate that terribly boring event with official merchandise.


After the intermission, we get a highlight reel of the build to tonight’s Hogan-Andre match, such as when Andre first promised to win the WWF title and sell it to Ted DiBiase. Right about then would have been an opportune time for Jack Tunney to step in and tell everyone that he can’t sell the title, thus avoiding this whole vacant-title fiasco.

We revisit the screwjob of Hulk Hogan by DiBiase, Andre, and the crooked referee, except they cut out the part where we find out he’s crooked (and an impostor), probably because Earl Hebner has already refereed two matches tonight without incident. When you’re running so low on officials that you’re forced to hire a man who seven weeks earlier tied up one of your real officials and impersonated him for money, it’s probably a sign that your wrestling event has too many matches.

But that’s all water under the dam, says the malapropic Gorilla Monsoon, who certainly resembles that remark.

And now it’s finally time for the feature match! No, don’t get excited. It’s only a second-round match between Hogan and Andre. There’s still two hours and eight matches left on this damn show. Out comes Hogan and…

…wait, is that Vince McMahon opening the curtain for the Hulkster?

Gorilla pegs the attendance at “at least 20,000 strong”, but probably closer to 25,000. It was 19,199, officially.

You’d think a venue with such high ceilings would be able to fit more fans, but there are only two levels. Photographic evidence proves that they were not literally hanging from the rafters.

From the opening bell, Hogan works circles around his opponent (no, really), and the crowd eats it up like pasta at a shopping mall.

Virgil and DiBiase struggle to get Andre loose before the Hulklster can deliver the stinkface.

Then, five minutes into the biggest advertised match, they go to the finish. Ted DiBiase hits Hulk with a chair behind the ref’s back, so Hulk picks it up and, in full view of the referee, hits Andre with it.

Naturally, the referee immediately… starts giving Hogan a five count to get rid of the weapon? Is that how disqualifications work?

Hogan grabs the chair away from the referee and tries to smash Andre with it a second time. Andre blocks it, sort of drops the chair on Hulk’s head, and only then does the referee signal for the bell for a disqualification – a double-disqualification…

…at which point Hogan smashes Andre again.

The Hulkster chases after Ted and his manservant, suplexing Virgil half-way to the arena floor (gravity takes care of the other half).

Then, in an unbelievable act of irresponsibility, Hulk body-slams Andre, knowing full well it could cause a catastrophic earthquake along the eastern seaboard.

Hulk does his patented posing for the 20,000-minus in attendance, but Jesse Ventura, unwilling to play along and let the dumb finish be a little more palatable to the audience, rains on Hogan’s parade and reminds the home viewers that Hogan is out of the tournament and title contention. 

Then it’s Gorilla’s turn to keep the finish stupid, refusing to believe The Body’s theory that the DQ was intentional on DiBiase’s part to give him an easier path to the title. No, insists Monsoon, it was just a really dumb thing that happened for no good reason.

The tournament continues with Don Muraco entering to his self-aggrandizing theme music, taking on Ted DiBiase, entering to no music, as the Million Dollar Rap hasn’t been created yet.

Even without the aid of Andre or Virgil, DiBiase wins rather suddenly by hanging up Muraco on the top rope.

Randy Savage then beats Greg Valentine with a small package in another match officiated by Crooked Earl Hebner.


Once again, the fans are given a break from the never-ending tournament of singles matches, being treated this time to… another singles match. Sweet Don Muraco!

Now, it’s the Honky Tonk Man defending his Intercontinental belt…

…which (and I don’t know why in the name of the Harris Brothers it does) appears to feature the Schutzstaffel insignia…

…against Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake, whose shears are so sharp, Monsoon tells us, they can cut paper.

I believe Crayola sells a pair that sharp.

Jimmy Hart knocks out the referee with his megaphone while Brutus has Honky in a sleeper hold. Beefcake, like Dino Bravo, Rick Rude, and Hercules, assumes he has won and jumps for joy.

But there is no bell forthcoming, so Brutus chases down Jimmy Hart and gives him a decent haircut for once before the referee comes to and awards Beefer the match by DQ.

After eleven straight dry-as-a-BYU-frat-party singles matches, we get a six-man tag match – and one with a feud behind it, at that!

Bobby Heenan gets slammed by The Islanders onto Koko for the win, but afterwards the Bulldogs chase down the Weasel.

Matilda is so mad at being dognapped by the Heenan Family that she has to be dropped onto Bobby by Davey Boy to make it look like she’s attacking him.

In a further attempt to keep the audience’s interest, the Federation out of the blue gets Jesse Ventura to pose.

In Randy Savage’s semi-final match against One Man Gang (who got a bye due to the Roberts-Rude draw), the Macho Man goes from 0 to 60… and back again.

Fortunately, despite being out of gas after a combined 14 minutes of action across three matches, Savage gets a lucky break when the ref catches Gang with manager Slick’s cane.

Demolition has much better luck with their manager’s cane, using Mr. Fuji’s walking stick to win the tag team titles from Strike Force. Perhaps if Don Muraco had used Billy Graham’s cane, he would have made it to the finals.


And speaking of the finals, at long, long last, it’s time to decide the next WWF Champion, as Ted DiBiase takes on Randy Savage.

But first, it’s time to bring out all of the event’s celebrities once more.

Bob Uecker, who will serve as ring announcer, gets a friendly hug from a fan with a cigarette in his mouth who sneaks under the railing.

Here, Mr. Baseball greets the event’s host.

(L to R: alleged Trump mistress Edith LiButti, Future Advisor to the President Ivanka Trump, Gotti associate Robert LiButti, future President of the United States Donald Trump)

You know, the Four Seasons Hotel would have been a more suitable sponsor than Trump Plaza, as it feels like we’ve completed an entire solar revolution since this show began.

Next comes Vanna White, whose entrance music on the WWE Network has been dubbed over with the UK theme song for Wheel of Fortune. Pretty clever!

The tournament began with Robin Leach reading off a scroll, and it’s ending with Bob Uecker reading off a yellow piece of paper torn from a legal pad.

A relatively fresh “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase enters, although the graphics consistently call him “Ted DiBiase ‘The Million Dollar Man'”, which I hope bothers you as much as it bothers me.

Savage then enters for the fourth and final time of the night. With all the grabby fans trying to get a piece of Elizabeth and all the other performers, and with all the uniformed security trying to clear a path to the ring, these entrances look more like perp walks. The only thing missing is for Macho Man to pull his robe over his head and hide his face from the cameras.

Speaking of perps, nobody is going to mention that Ted DiBiase’s associate Earl Hebner, the impostor referee paid off by Ted DiBiase to take the title off Hogan and put it on Ted DiBiase, is officiating the main event where, yes, Ted DiBiase yet again has a chance to win the title.

Savage, who dressed in the Hulkster’s signature yellow and red for this final match, doesn’t think to bring Hulk Hogan to ringside and even the odds until the match is nearly over, but he eventually tells Elizabeth to do just that.

By this point in the night, Hulk Hogan, knowing he won’t be wrestling again, has changed out of his yellow trunks and into his street clothes: red spandex tights, weight belt, a Hulkamania bandanna, cowboy boots, wrist tape, baby oil, and no shirt. 

The crowd finally comes alive when Savage attempts – and misses – the flying elbow. DiBiase applies the Million Dollar Dream, but as the referee gets tied up with Andre, Hulk Hogan finds an opening to cheat…

…smashing Ted in the back with a chair.

Savage hits the elbow for a three count to win the title and, more importantly, end this damn show.

Gorilla Monsoon refers to Randy, Liz, and Hulk as a “threesome”, and the seeds of jealousy are planted for Wrestlemania V, which, by the time this show ended, was only about a week away.

After this wasteland of a wrestling card, it’s a wonder Vince McMahon ever held another one-night tournament again, let alone dedicate an entire pay-per-view to it like King of The Ring. When the main event can be generously described as “adequate”, yet still manages to be the best match of the sixteen on the show…

…and when, after 210 minutes, the only parts anyone will ever remember are the victory celebration and an interviewer getting choked out…

…you know your big gamble didn’t pay off.

Written by

A wrestling fan ever since the days of Wrestlemania IX, Art graduated from college in the same building where Art Donovan called King of the Ring 1994. He also runs the "How Much Does This Guy Weigh?" blog, where he reviews New Generation-Era Monday Night Raws. Follow him on Twitter @Art0Donnell. Email at: art@wrestlecrap.com
42 Responses to "Induction: Wrestlemania IV – Crapped out in Atlantic City"
  1. John C says:

    But at least The Coliseum Video has the cool pop up Hulkster insert. But it always bothered me the first tape ends during the Hogan-Andre match. It seemed unequivocally a bad idea and was glad furthermore they did no such thing, that I remember.

    • Captain Ron says:

      I remember an episode of Prime Time, Bobby Heenan was playing with the pop-up Hulkster. He opened it up and said, “I’m STUPID!” I makes me giggle to this day. I miss Bobby Heenan.

  2. mfm420 says:

    in hindsight with the earl and dave thing, should have had earl wearing a pillow or something under his shirt (since its kinda easy to tell the two apart. dave has a pretty good size gut, earl doesn’t).

  3. Chris V says:

    This was one of the first WWF video tapes I ever rented. I had started watching wrestling with the build to WrestleMania 3.
    When I was at a local video store, I realized that they stocked WWF videos. I saw that they had a copy of WrestleMania 4, among many other WWF videos.
    Well, WrestleMania 4 was two tapes. Obviously, it must have been the greatest wrestling show of all time! It had to be WrestleMania 4 for my choice.

    Hey, I was a kid. I thought it was pretty cool that so many wrestlers and matches were featured on this one event.
    It wouldn’t be until years later, as an adult, when I purchased the entire WrestleMania collection on VHS that I would find myself unbelievably bored by Roberts vs. Rude.
    It was at that point when I figured out that my good memories of WM 4 were probably based on the fact that I was a kid who had only recently discovered professional wrestling.

  4. Brownie_the_3rd says:

    I remember trying to rent this back in the day, something that was far more difficult than it should have been. You see there was 2 stores from the same chain nearby so it wasn’t too uncommon to for videos to get returned to the wrong store. This happened with Wrestlemania 4, so one store had 2 copies of part one and the other had 2 copies of part two. In hindsight it was not worth the effort.

  5. ChunkyLover53 says:

    “After this wasteland of a wrestling card, it’s a wonder Vince McMahon ever held another one-night tournament again, let alone dedicate an entire pay-per-view to it like King of The Ring. When the main event can be generously described as “adequate”, yet still manages to be the best match of the sixteen on the show”

    Just to nitpick on that comment, Survivor Series 1998 was pretty good(ish). Granted it was a swervefest and the ending of The Rock being Vince McMahon’s chosen one after favoring Mankind along the way didn’t make any sense, but it lead to compelling programming after that, so that PPV gets a pass in my view.

    • Walter Kovacs says:

      And, most of the tournaments were only quarters, semis and finals from that point, eventually being cut down to just the final four in more recent incarnations of the King of the Ring. 7 tourney matches is the best you can do, and even then, it’s hit and miss. They could have probably gotten this down to 8 people and not needed to go with byes.

    • Tempest Fennac says:

      I’d say that it made sense due to the favouratism Mr. McMahon showed for Foley (along with The Rock’s digs at Vince leading to the event) acting like a smokescreen so everyone assumed that Bossman was messing things up when he helped The Rock to advance.

  6. James says:

    Sigh… I always hate when something I like gets inducted.

    The DiBiase-Muraco finish was freaking sweet and none of you can tell me any different…

    As you were people – bash away…

  7. Sean O says:

    Something I don’t know if you want to add to the induction but figure it was worth mentioning:
    While Don Muraco wasn’t being called “King of Kings” he WAS called “The Rock” way before Dwayne even was lacing up a pair of boots.

    Imagine a world where Muraco was the biggest star in Hollywood instead…

    • phillip sanders says:

      wasn’t Murroco already the biggest star in hollywood, or are you forgetting his great works like “Fuji General” “Fuji Bandito” Fuji Chan” or my favorite “Fuji goes Hollywood” Don’t forget “Fuji Vice”

    • Alfonzo Tyson says:

      Vince tried to attach the nickname “The Rock” to Man Mountain Rock and Ken Shamrock as well.

  8. Christopher Haydu says:

    I hope next year for WrestleMania 35, WrestleCrap inducts WrestleMania VII. Except for Macho Man vs. Ultimate Warrior (which was incredible), that whole show was garbage.

    As a child, I really liked WrestleMania IV, too, and for the same reason. The WWF had such a great roster then: Hogan, Andre, Macho Man, Million Dollar Man, Jake the Snake, Ravishing Rick Rude, Ultimate Warrior, Honky Tonk Man, Brutus Beefcake, Demolition, Hart Foundation, etc. For kids it was great to see all of them on one show. If Vince had the first round of the tournament be on free television, then had all the remaining matches go no less than ten minutes with good action I think people would’ve liked ‘Mania IV a lot better.

    One thing I notice is that, when it comes to classic WrestleMania main events, Macho man and Ted DiBiase are often not mentioned alongside Bret vs. Austin, Hart vs. Michaels and other famous ‘Mania matches. Yet, they’re both seen as being among the best and well loved wrestlers ever. Even if they went a half hour and there was no Hogan or Andre to distract from it, I don’t think it would’ve been enough to make people forget how bad this show was. It’s too bad because Macho Man and Million Dollar Man were two of the best ever.

    • Chris V says:

      Yes, thank you! It seems like our tastes in wrestling are pretty similar. I hate WrestleMania 7 also.
      Even Warrior vs. Savage, while definitely a spectacle, is over-the-top and a bit ludicrous, with Warrior talking to his “gods” and Savage hitting twenty elbow drops (hyperbole, not being serious) before Warrior kicks out.
      Although, I think Hogan vs. Slaughter was inducted. Hopefully it was at some point. The worst main-event in WM history.

    • Dave says:

      I have to disagree on VII. Not what I’d call the greatest one ever but not terrible. The title matches were all pretty good– Slaughter put on his working boots that night for sure, and the tag title match is probably the best match the Nasties ever had. On the undercard, Virgil/Dibiase wasn’t great but good storytelling, Jake/Martel wasn’t good as a match but as pure entertainment and the blowoff to a feud it accomplished what it set out to do, Bulldog/Warlord was a solid big man power matchup, and the Rockers/future Faces of Fear was maybe the best PPV opener the Fed had had up to that point.

  9. #OPC says:

    Watched this in 2002 after I had my molars removed. I think the Vicodin helped me get through it.

  10. Roland Smitts says:

    Funny you should induct Wrestlemania 4, because I just referenced it the other night to (of all people) the rapper M.I.A. She was screening her docufilm the other night at MoMA and I got to meet her briefly at VIP after. I said “I choked up like Bob Uecker with Andre the Giant.” She looked at me like “Huh?”

  11. Mav says:

    Even as a kid, I hated the dead Trump Plaza crowds.

    This is a year after WM3, but it feels like a totally different time.

    Not a shark jump but maybe just an acknowledgement that everything was a step down from the huge stakes and spectacle of WM3.

  12. Cuthbert says:

    “a bloated 14-man tournament for the WWF title, where nearly every match lacked any kind of backstory between the randomly-competing participants.”

    This always pisses me off. Why does everything seem to need a backstory? How about this: They are wrestlers, they wrestle matches. That’s the backstory: it’s their job. It’s like demanding a backstory for a Oakland A’s-Seattle Mariners game.

    And if that’s not good enough for you, then just freaking accept that the backstory is: They want to win the title.

    But quit with this bullshit about there needing to be some backstory for match. They’re wrestlers. That’s the backstory.

    • Art0Donnell says:

      I too like to compare the matches on the biggest wrestling event of the year to one of 2,430 regular season games of baseball, except of course that wrestling doesn’t have the advantage of being real competition.

    • Guest says:

      Having a match with no backstory is fine, having a match at a PPV with no backstory is unequivocally dumb. This isn’t WWE 2K18 where you can just throw two random wrestlers into a match at Over The Edge and can just enjoy it for what it is.

    • Evan Waters says:

      Storylines are part of what help make up for wrestling’s lack of, well, actually being a competition. I can buy some matches at a house show or a weekly TV show just being two guys fighting (at least at first, usually it leads into something), but it’s Wrestle-freakin’-Mania. A Mania match should have a good setup.

    • dennett316 says:

      Because backstories are what get people to give a shit, especially when the in-ring action is mediocre as hell. Get the brackets set up, then have the guys facing each other build some heat. We’re not asking for complex storytelling and multi-layered plots. Just…something for the biggest show of the year.
      Most of the December to Dismember ECW show was thrown together on the day, remember how THAT shit pile turned out? You probably don’t remember much, because 95% of it didn’t mean anything, because it was thrown together last minute.

    • Turk Butler says:

      Totally agree. The pairings were ‘random’ drawings, so why should there be a back story? Like he said, winning the title was the story. In fact most of the early WM’s were just matches like this. It never bothered me. It seems to be the mentality of fans now that there always has to be a backstory.

  13. Big says:

    Ya know, I never actually saw this card start to finish. I was at work that day and, when I was done went to a local movie theatre (!) to catch the tail end. I still popped so large when Randy won. But, to get back to it, I’m a little glad that I didn’t see the whole works.

  14. Doc 902714 says:

    Why all this lack of love towards WrestleMania IV. This one ranks as my favorite WrestleMania bar none. The 14 man single elimination tournament for the vacant WWF title was a gutsy way to go for a WM but was worth it not seeing Hulk Hogan triumph at the end. We had already seen that at the first four Manias so this was a great way to go. The tournament made you feel that any Superstar had a legit shot at becoming WWF Champion and was executed beautifully with top stars of the era i.e. Ted DiBiase, Ricky Steamboat, Rick Rude, Don Muraco etc. The next time WWE would put a tournament on PPV for the vacant WWF Title was not as memorable. It would be at Survivor Series 1998 and would feature such *STARS* as Marc Mero, Al Snow, Duane Gill and the Big Boss Man who wrestled twice for crying out loud. Even had Undertaker and Kane receive byes in the second round a la Hogan and Andre.

    The matches on the undercard were great as well: the 20 Man Battle Royal(e) would feature stars and HOF’ers who would never compete at a WrestleMania again i.e. Junkyard Dog, George Steele, Harley Race, Ken Patera and even Sika. Beefcake had a good IC Title bout against Honky with a satisfying conclusion. Demolition began the longest WWF Tag Team title reign only to be passed by the New Day some 18 years later. Ultimate Warrior’s WM Debut! The six-man tag match was good as well.

    Also had a good backstory with Bob Uecker searching everywhere for Vanna White until he found her just before the main event began. Vanna White was classy in that role and deserves a spot in the Celebrity wing of the WWF Hall of Fame IMO.

    Let’s not harp on the fact that we didn’t get Savage-Steamboat II at WM IV. While that would’ve been nice, IMO that reason was two-fold. They could not possibly be expected to top the match they had at WM III, so why bother. Plus Steamboat was on his way out with the company at that time so it would’ve been a let down in the end when everybody knew he wouldn’t be champion. It would’ve also taken away from Savage as a babyface when he won the WWF title in the end.

    Plus the early plan heading into WMIV was to have Ted DiBiase win the WWF Title after attempting to buy it 2 months prior. It was later changed to Savage because Vince didn’t want all of his top champions as heels and all four would have been ending WrestleMania (even Sherri Martel as the Women’s Champion who moonlighted as Peggy Sue). Instead we got the beginning of the Mega Powers. It blew my mind as a kid.

    The double VHS tape rental at the video store was also a treat and WM V. VI, and VII would follow as lengthier Manias but would only be released as a single VHS. They would scale back on time and star power beginning with WM VIII. But if you wanted to see every top Superstar of that year appear at a single WM, there you have WM IV.

    I also didn’t realize Earl Hebner even refereed at this WM after reading this induction. I thought it was Dave. I stand corrected. And it goes without saying that Donald Trump is the only future US president to appear at WrestleMania i.e. IV, V, VII, XX, XXIII, XXIX.

    • The Doctor of Style says:

      Unless you count “President Bill Clinton” at WM 10! 🙂

      I too think it’s a stretch to induct WM 4. But don’t worry, still love ya Art!

      P.S. Gorilla and his “happening” — never took him for a hippie, but that plaid smoking jacket does raise questions.

  15. E-Squared says:

    Being that a PPV devoted to a tournament is inducted, does that mean we may see an induction of Survivor Series 1998, with Russo’s booking in all of its “glory”? I will say that show gave its share of shocking swerves, like Shane McMahon betraying Austin, as well as Rock being in cahoots with Vince all along. Man, Russo was the master of swerves.

  16. Alexandru says:

    I love tournaments as much as the next guy (KOTR 2002 being the best ever for WWE) this was ridiculous. Then again Vince tries his damn est too get everyone on a WM card (whether or not they deserve it or not thus watering down the concept of WM being special) so maybe this was an early version of him attempting that

  17. AK says:

    I didn’t mind Wrestlemania IV and it was the first Wrestlemania I watched too. I feel that there were really only two focal points that Vince and the WWF wanted people to care about.

    1. Hogan and Andre’s rematch; where Hogan notably went along the heel route to try and win the match. The most over babyface the company had been peddling for years resorting to cheating for the victory. I always appreciated Jesse Ventura being the voice of reason to Gorilla’s shameless but believable sell job of Hogan being the greatest professional wrestler in the world. Despite Hogan exhibiting more heel tendencies than just about anyone else.

    2. Macho’s World Title Win (with the assist from Hogan, this time succeeding in cheating). Not to mention showing the endurance of Macho going 4 matches strong as he was on a very shortlist of guys who could wrestler that many matches and still look very good even if he was stuck with very inferior opponents. We wouldn’t see such an impressive feat of stamina until Savio Vega’s improbable run towards the 1995 King of the Ring..finals.

    There were some lesser notables such as the beginning of the end for the Strike Force tag team, the teasing of Bret Hart and the Hart Foundation turning face and a Wrestlemania debut for the Ultimate Warrior but fans weren’t expected to be drawn to these moments.

    This was ultimately another Wrestlemania running on Hulkamania with a well deserved Savage title win to plant the seeds for a Hogan/Savage clash in the future.

  18. CF says:

    “Scratch that. He’s actually not wearing a shirt at all.”

  19. Sean Wilkinson says:

    How could you not have the final Andre/Uecker image as an animated GIF? I’m subtracting half a star for that…

  20. I’ll Be Your Zero says:

    You forgot to mention Hogan mugging Robin Leach to get the belt to give to Savage, which was supposed to be Robin’s job.

  21. Turk Butler says:

    Like many others here, this was my first WM and even with the passing of 30 years I still enjoy it, regardless of any nostalgia aspect. Yeah it’s hardly perfect, but how many WM’s have been? If you’re going to induct this, you might as well induct at least 20 other WM’s. The tournament kept you guessing, even though it was always geared towards fan favorites vs heels. The sheer amount of talent alone is enough to warrant watching this. I can still watch it straight through and recite every line from it. I just think this is a worthless induction. It’s definitely funny, some of the things pointed pointed out (Savage wrestling 14 minutes, Matilda being forced to attack Heenan) are things I’ve groaned at for a long time. But there comes a point where you may as well induct every single thing in wrestling history, because this doesn’t belong here.

  22. Arcane Azmadi says:

    Watching that gif of Andre “dropping” the chair on Hogan just makes me sad. I mean, look at it. Look at it carefully. Look at how he recoils after releasing the chair, barely stopping himself from putting his hand on his back. That’s not just a residual sell job of the chair shot Hogan just gave him. The guy’s in legit agony, because even with the back surgery Vince paid for before WrestleMania 3 he’s still slowly dying and probably “dropped” the chair because he couldn’t even complete the swing. And the chair shot to his back wouldn’t have helped, and that asshole Hogan then bodyslamming him again DEFINITELY didn’t. Poor Andre.

  23. mitch says:

    I always chuckle when Eucker almost goes into convulsions after Vanna gave him a peck on the cheek.

  24. ClawsomeMan says:

    “Gorilla Monsoon refers to Randy, Liz, and Hulk as a “threesome”, and the seeds of jealousy are planted for Wrestlemania V, which, by the time this show ended, was only about a week away.”

    So I guess WWE Network PPVs were not the longest PPVs ever?

  25. Sweet jeezus what a terrible PPV.

    I wrote a rebooking of WM4 that I think we can all agree would’ve been far superior:

    http://www.enuffa.com/2014/08/wrestling-do-overs-wwf-wrestlemania-iv.html

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