WWE Retro Perspective #2: Hulk Hogan vs. Randy Savage at Wrestlemania V
In the first edition of the WWE Retro Perspective, we tackled the controversial match between Booker T and Triple H at Wrestlemania XIX. Many readers balked at the notion that Triple H used debatable tactics to generate heat for his match against Booker T.
This week in WWE Retro Perspective #2, we look at one of the most well built matches in WWE history. Many people believe that the build towards Wrestlemania V began exactly one year prior at Wrestlemania IV. However, the build really started October 3, 1987.
During the 12th edition of WWE Saturday Night's Main Event, Randy Savage challenged the newly crowned WWE Intercontinental Champion, The Honky Tonk Man. During the hard fought contest, Savage was on the verge of defeating Honky to regain the Intercontinental Championship when The Hart Foundation stormed to ringside.
The three members, managed by Jimmy Hart, put an intense beat down on Savage. In one of the most dramatic moments in WWE history, Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart held Savage in a crucifix position for Honky to crash a guitar over his head.
Miss Elizabeth, the valet and real life wife of Randy Savage, attempted to stop the guitar shot by getting in the way and pleading with The Honky Tonk Man. In an outrageous turn of events, Honky tossed Miss Elizabeth to the ground and proceeded to crash the guitar over the head of Randy Savage.
Elizabeth left the ring and sprinted down the aisle towards the backstage area. Just moments later, she returned with a confused Hulk Hogan.
As Hulk and Elizabeth walked a few steps towards the ring, The Hulkster looked up and saw what was transpiring in the ring. Hulk ran into the ring and was immediately attacked by Honky and The Hart Foundation.
Hulk made a quick comeback and started to clear the ring of the heels. Savage soon joined Hogan as the crowd came unglued. Hulk and Savage backed into each other and nearly came to blows.
The two were adversaries during a large part of the mid 1980's. The notion that Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan could help each other out wasn't a thought at the time.
In another memorable moment in WWE history, Randy Savage put his hand out for a handshake. Hulk embraced Savage and The Mega-Powers were officially born.
Randy Savage officially turned face for the first time in his WWE career. He had embraced the "WWE Universe" in a fashion that had never happened before.
Heading into the first Survivor Series on November 26, 1987, Hulk Hogan was still WWE Champion and was enthralled in a heated feud with Andre the Giant. Randy Savage was on the verge of finishing up his issue with The Honky Tonk Man.
The next major event to take place in the build towards Wrestlemania V was on the first edition of The Main Event. The Main Event was a concept that took place on Friday night February 5, 1988 and was a spinoff of the successful Saturday Night's Main Event.
Hulk Hogan defended his WWE Championship against Andre the Giant in a rematch from Wrestlemania III. This match remains the most watched contest in American television history. The show drew 33 million viewers with a 15.2 television rating.
This match also remains one of the most controversial matches in WWE history. Andre was accompanied to the ring by The Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase and Virgil for his rematch.
The climax of the contest came when Hulk Hogan knocked Andre down with a clothesline from the second turnbuckle. Virgil grabbed the attention of referee Hebner while Hogan hit the big leg drop and covered Andre.
Hogan got up to regain the attention of Hebner. However, this gave time for Andre to recover. Andre smashed Hogan with multiple head-butts to the back of the head and followed with a rolling suplex. Andre covered Hogan and won the WWE Championship, but not without controversy.
Hogan got his shoulder up at one, but referee Hebner continued his count to give Andre the win. After the match, a stunned Hogan looked on while Andre celebrated with Virgil and DiBiase.
Who was the Better WWE Superstar?
In a botched post match interview with Mean Gene Okerlund, Andre proclaimed DiBiase as the new champion while the crowd showered them with boo's. Shortly thereafter, Hulk discovered that there wasn't one referee named Hebner, but there were two.
Earl and Dave Hebner are twins and Earl was bought out by Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase to screw The Hulkster. Hulk took out his aggression on Earl by tossing him over the top rope onto Dibiase, Virgil and Andre.
WWE President Jack Tunney was forced with one of the most crucial decisions in WWE history. Tunney vacated the WWE Championship for the first time in history and set a tournament for Wrestlemania IV in Atlantic City, New Jersey at Trump Plaza. This turned out to be the first and only tournament in Wrestlemania history.
Considering Hulk Hogan and Andre were the last two recognized WWE champions, they both received a first round bye in the tournament, but were forced to wrestle each other in yet another rematch.
The tournament for vacant WWE Championship consisted of many future WWE Hall of Fame superstars like Ricky Steamboat, Ted DiBiase, Don Muraco and Greg "The Hammer" Valentine. Randy Savage was the clear fan favorite to win his first WWE Championship at this time.
While the blind eye couldn't quite tell, it was evident that Hulkamania was starting to lose a little bit of steam heading into the event. This would be the first Wrestlemania where Hulk Hogan didn't close the show in the final match of the evening.
However, Hogan did make his presence felt. The tournament came down to Randy Savage vs. Ted DiBiase for the WWE Championship. Savage defeated Butch Reed, Greg Valentine and One Man Gang on his road to the finals of the tournament. Ted DiBiase defeated Jim Duggan and Don Muraco, but received a buy into the finals because of a disqualification finish in the match between Andre the Giant and Hulk Hogan.
The fresh Ted DiBiase, with Andre the Giant and Virgil in his corner, was set to take on the exhausted Randy Savage with Miss Elizabeth. During the contest, Andre consistently interfered on behalf of DiBiase.
Once again, Elizabeth ran backstage and brought Hulk Hogan down to ringside. Hogan not only cancelled out the presence of Andre the Giant, but helped Savage win the contest by blasting an unsuspecting Ted DiBiase in the back with a chair while Savage was trapped in the Million Dollar Dream.
Savage hit the flying elbow drop and covered DiBiase for the victory and his first of two reigns as WWE Champion.
This is where the build towards Wrestlemania V really started to gain momentum. The Mega-Powers celebrated Savage's victory with Hogan literally handing the championship over to him. Was this symbolic? Was it Hogan passing the torch to The Macho Man? Was Hogan's involvement in this match even necessary?
Vince McMahon knew that the fans were really starting to get behind Randy Savage. This was an opportunity for Macho Madness to carry the torch and take the WWE into the 1990's with a blaze of success and better match quality while Hulk Hogan was away filming "No Holds Barred."
I believe that this notion scared Vince McMahon and Hulk Hogan. The more steam that Macho Madness gained meant the more Hulk Hogan had to work to regain those fans upon his return.
Savage carried the ball during house shows defending the WWE Championship against guys like Bad News Brown, The One Man Gang and Andre the Giant.
The Mega-Powers teamed up on numerous big shows leading towards Wrestlemania V. At Summerslam 1988, Hulk and Savage teamed up against Andre and DiBiase in a match where The Mega-Powers defeated The Mega-Bucks when Miss Elizabeth removed her dress distracting DiBiase, Andre and referee Jesse "The Body" Ventura.
After Savage and Hogan got the victory, Hogan embraced Miss Elizabeth in a big hug by lifting her off the ground. The hug was innocent, but Savage didn't see it that way.
While watching this match as a 5 year old child, I didn't notice the facial expressions by Randy Savage during the hug. Watching it now, Randy Savage was foreshadowing his eventual turn on Hulk Hogan. He looked at Hogan confused and jealous.
This story continued into Survivor Series 1988. Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage captained a team to challenge a group of heels that was captained by the Twin Towers. After Randy Savage took a prolonged beating, Hulk Hogan got the hot tag and finished off Haku to win the match for his team.
While Hogan celebrated by posing in the ring, Miss Elizabeth tended to the beaten Randy Savage. When Elizabeth tried to get the attention of Hogan, he picked her up in another prolonged hug right in front of The Macho Man.
Again, Savage seemed angry over the embrace between Hogan and Elizabeth. This time, however, he made it extremely clear to the audience by pointing at Hogan with a look of disdain. After the celebration, Savage participated in a backstage interview with Jesse Ventura.
Ventura played up the build towards a split of The Mega-Powers by posing the question to Savage about the hug. Savage delivered a cryptic promo and not delivering any information into the build towards the split. He deflected each question by Jesse Ventura, but "The Body" was not convinced.
The building tension between the two continued through various promos and matches. On February 3, 1989 on the second ever episode of The Main Event, The Mega-Powers teamed up for the final time to take on The Twin Towers.
During the contest, Savage was tossed through the ropes and landed directly on Miss Elizabeth. Oddly, Hogan ran directly to Elizabeth and started to tend to her. There was never any mention on WWE as to whether Hulk Hogan was single or involved with a woman. Although Hogan was married in real life, fans had no idea and truly started to believe that he cared for Miss Elizabeth.
Once again, Savage was mad and upset when The Hulkster came to the aid of Elizabeth. The Twin Towers, Big Bossman and Akeem, took advantage of the situation and attacked Savage.
Hogan abandoned Savage and took Elizabeth backstage in his arms. When Hogan returned, Savage tagged out of the contest and left Hogan alone with The Twin Towers. Savage headed backstage to check on Miss Elizabeth.
As usual, Hogan was able to overcome the odds and defeat The Twin Towers on his own. In a move that didn't happen every week in WWE, the camera went backstage with a visibly distraught Hulk Hogan. The camera continued to cut to Savage arguing with the fallen Miss Elizabeth who was laid out on a stretcher while Hogan was making his way towards the room.
This was an incredible job by WWE to build towards the climax of this angle. Hogan finally made his way to the room where Savage came clean about all of his theories on what Hogan's real intentions were. Savage believed that Hogan was not only jealous of his relationship with Miss Elizabeth, but jealous of his reign as WWE Champion.
Hogan momentarily turned to the pleading Miss Elizabeth giving Savage the opening to blast Hogan with the WWE Championship. Savage berated and attacked Hogan while Elizabeth screamed in the background. Brutus Beefcake came to the aid of Hogan, but Savage also attacked Beefcake.
The build towards this moment was almost two years in the making. Wrestlemania V was booked to once again take place at Trump Plaza in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The story was about to come full circle. The Mega-Powers were set to explode.
Randy Savage held the WWE Championship for 371 days. Hulk Hogan had been without the championship for well over a year. The match between the two did not disappoint.
WWE Champion Randy Savage and challenger Hulk Hogan, with Miss Elizabeth in a neutral corner, put it all on the line. Savage busted Hogan open and used every heel tactic in the book.
The end came when Savage choked Hogan to the ground in the middle of the ring. Macho Man went to the top rope and nailed the flying elbow drop.
Miraculously, Hulk Hogan kicked out and started to "Hulk Up." Hogan delivered the big boot and leg drop on Savage. Hulk Hogan was once again WWE Champion.
In my eyes, this story was one of the greatest builds in WWE history. However, I pose the question: was it necessary? Could Hogan have stepped aside and let Macho Madness carry the WWE flag for the next few years?
Hulkamania surged forward for the next year as WWE Champion. His feud with Savage continued through the majority of 1989. Hogan surged ahead with an epic feud leading into Wrestlemania VI against The Ultimate Warrior where Hogan once again dropped the WWE strap for exactly one year.
Savage went on to become the new "king" of WWE by defeating "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan. With Sensational Sherri at his side, "The Macho King" took his focus off the WWE Championship and relied on his new era of royalty.
Savage started a feud with Dusty Rhodes and competed in the first ever WWE mixed tag team match at Wrestlemania VI.
The rest of their careers were forever intertwined in and out of the ring. The storyline with Miss Elizabeth in the middle of the two led to real life tension. Randy Savage blamed Hulk Hogan and his wife, Linda Bollea, for sabotaging his marriage.
Their friendship, on an off TV, went back and forth for the entire decade of the 1990's.
All of the real life animosity, however, is irrelevant to me. These two provided some of the most memorable moments in WWE history and their feud that started in the mid 1980's went on for decades to come.
The formation of The Mega-Powers and the explosion of The Mega-Powers was one of the most effective storylines in the history of WWE. It had everything that a great story truly embodies.
Macho Man Randy Savage passed away a year ago last Sunday. I dedicate this article to his memory that will forever live in the hearts of each and every wrestling fan that loved him.
Did you like my article on the build to the explosion of The Mega-Powers? I thought it was great, but did you think it was bad? Whether you agree or disagree, make sure you comment below and let your voice be heard. Also, please visit www.prowrestlingpowerhouse.com and get involved in our community. Join us at our Facebook Group where a lot of great wrestling interaction takes place on a daily basis. We are growing a community that prides itself on allowing everyone to express their voice and opinion.
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