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Retro Wrestlemania Moment: 1989's Wrestlemania 5

I often complain to my wife that storytelling doesn't exist in pro wrestling anymore.  I mean TRUE storytelling.  With hints and small gestures that "plant seeds" into the minds of fans that eventually blossom into something that lasts for months or even a year.  Watching wrestling today, I feel like there is just so much available content that they don't have time for storytelling. They just throw a pair of wrestlers together, after a brief scripted promo that basically reads "I don't like you, let's fight," and they'll have the blowoff match a week or so later at the monthly Pay-Per-View and then the two move on to some other feud.  Then, not even a year later, they run out of new matchups, and they return to the original dispute and often pretend it didn't happen in the first place using the same "your a meanie" trope.

But back in the late '80s, the WWF's storytelling was bar none.  Who as a fan, past or present, hasn't heard of what I consider one of if not the best storytelling... the Mega Powers exploding at WM 5, and that's our latest stop on the Retro Road to Wrestlemania here at YRM.
Wrestlemania 5 took place on April 2, 1989, at the Trump Plaza Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Wrestlemanias 4 and 5 both were produced and advertised in close coordination with Donald Trump, leading to the eventual 45th President of the United States to become great friends with Vince McMahon and eventually gain his spot in the WWE Hall of Fame.  One can make an excellent argument that President Trump honed his already sharp self-promotion and pro-wrestling-esque showmanship skills by working with Vince and the WWE, and vice-versa.

****trump plaza photo
WrestleMania 4 and 5 are the only two WrestleManias to be held at the same venue for two consecutive years.  Trump Plaza is a hotel and casino located on the Boardwalk in Atlantic City, New Jersey.  The event included several celebrities, most notably Run-DMC, who performed the Wrestlemania Rap, controversial talk show host Morton Downey, Jr.  Donald and Ivana Trump were visible in the front row through most of the event as well.  Although the WWF and Trump both advertised the Trump Plaza and Casino heavily, in reality, both events were held at the nearby Atlantic City Convention Hall. 

The main event and central storyline heading into the big show was Hulk Hogan versus Randy Savage for the WWF World Heavyweight Championship.  This was billed "The Mega Powers Explode," which was the culmination of a nearly year-long storyline that was woven throughout the show with many ups, downs, twists, and turns.  Savage's wife and central character of this storyline, Miss Elizabeth, was also at ringside for the main event.

Hogan and Savage first crossed paths on an episode of Saturday Night's Main Event in 1987. Savage earned a shot at The Honky Tonk Man's Intercontinental Heavyweight Championship but was attacked by The Hart Foundation.  Hulk Hogan came to Savage's rescue, thus solidifying Randy's hinted babyface turn.  At WrestleMania 4 in early 1988, Savage defeated "Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase in a tournament to win the vacant WWF World Heavyweight Championship.  Hulk Hogan soon after came into the ring to congratulate Savage and within weeks had formed an unstoppable tag team known as "The Mega Powers."  During the year between Wrestlemania 4 and 5, the Mega Powers feuded with the top heel tag teams and dominated the WWF for several months.

In late 1988 and early 1989, the WWF planted the seeds of the eventual break up of the tag team.  On another Saturday Night's Main Event, Hogan was mercilessly beaten by the Twin Towers heel tag team of Akeem and Big Boss Man.  Save came out and cleared the ring with a steel chair while Miss Elizabeth, Savage's on-screen valet and girlfriend, helped Hulk to the back.  Savage grew irate that Elizabeth left him to be with Hogan and stormed backstage.  Randy began to think he had become the third wheel and that his manager/girlfriend, Miss Elizabeth, was leaving him for Hogan.  With one of the most genius and subtle moves from what I remember in wrestling history, Hogan and Savage were celebrating a victory, and Savage lifted Miss Elizabeth to his shoulder.  Hulk Hogan placed his hand on her "lower back" to stabilize her.  This was later seen as a "hint" when Savage would slowly get more and more jealous before cutting his iconic "Lust In Your Eyes" promo.

"You've Got Lust In Your Eyes."

Inevitably, problems increased further when in early 1989 at the Royal Rumble, Hogan accidentally eliminated Savage as he was trying to eliminate Bad News Brown.  In February at The Main Event, The Mega-Powers once again faced the Twin Towers in a tag match that would cause the breakup of the top babyface team.  During the match, Savage was thrown from the ring onto Elizabeth, leaving her unconscious on the arena floor.  Hogan, worried for her health and safety, carried her to the back, leaving Savage to fend for himself.  Hogan eventually returned, but Savage slapped him in the face and left the ring abandoning The Hulkster.  Despite being alone, Hogan managed to win the match.  Afterward, Savage attacked Hogan in the medical area in the arena, turning himself heel.  Hogan challenged Savage to a match for the World Heavyweight Championship at Wrestlemania 5, which Savage accepted.

Savage turns on Hogan Backstage. 

The undercard featured many big-name wrestlers of that era.  Hercules took on King Haku in the opening match.  Following that, The Twin Towers defeated The Rockers (Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty).  Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake went to a no-contest with Ted DiBiase after Virgil interfered.  The Bushwackers defeated The Fabulous Rougeaus (Jacques and Raymond), and then Mr. Perfect went over The Blue Blazer (Owen Hart) in a quick match. This was followed by Demolition (Ax and Smash) retaining the WWF Tag Team Championships against the Powers of Pain (Warlord and Barbarian) with Mr. Fuji in a handicap match.  Dino Bravo beat "Rugged" Ronnie Garvin in a terrible match that was followed by a much better Tag Team match when The Brain Busters (Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard) defeated The Strike Force (Tito Santana and Rick Martel).

There was a Piper's Pit segment featuring Morton Downey, Jr that wound up involving Brother Love (Bruce Prichard) dressed as Piper.  The real Piper came out halfway through the interview and ripped off Brother Love's kilt and finished the interview.  Piper gave Downey a few stiff shots (real punches) after Downey continued to blow smoke in Piper's face, despite requests not to.  The segment was just ok, but, really it was just filler for the intermission.

Following Piper's Pit, Jake "The Snake" Roberts faced off with the legendary Andre The Giant with Big John Studd as the guest referee.  At this point, Andre was in pretty rough shape, and the match used a lot of "ga-ga" (as Pat Patterson calls it) to cover for the fact that Andre's back and legs were hurting.  Jake used his pet snake "Damien" to scare the Giant in the weeks running up to WM5, and the match involved run-ins from Bobby Heenan, Ted DiBiase, and Virgil.  The bout ended when Andre hit referee John Studd and was disqualified.  Snake tossed Damien into the ring to save Studd and Andre fled the arena.  Years later, Roberts and Donald Trump both would tell the story of how Jake used Damien to scare Ivana Trump, but Donald claimed he was too busy laughing to "save" his then-wife.

Next, the future Hall-of-Fame tag team, The Hart Foundation (Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart), took on the "Rhythm and Blues" team of Greg Valentine and The Honky Tonk Man.  The Red Rooster (Terry Taylor) then faced his former manager Bobby Heenan, accompanied by The Brooklyn Brawler.  And in the final throwaway match, "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan went to a draw with Bad News Brown.

The other main feud heading into WM5 was between "Ravishing" Rick Rude and The Ultimate Warrior for the WWF Intercontinental Championship.  Rude and Warrior, both bodybuilders with great physiques, had been booked in a "Super Posedown" at the Royal Rumble in January.  The winner was to be decided by fan reaction, which Warrior (the fan-favorite good guy) won the posedown.  After the posedown, the furious Rude attacked The Warrior leading to their match at Trump Plaza for WM5.  I thought the opening of this match was at least unique and different when Ultimate Warrior made his usual running start entrance, and Rick Rude tried to jump-start the fight with a knee to the gut as Warrior ran by.  Except, Warrior was still wearing his Intercontinental Championship belt, and Rude hurt his knee with no effect on Warrior.

The eleventh match was a WWF Intercontinental Championship match between defending champion The Ultimate Warrior and "Ravishing" Rick Rude with Bobby Heenan in his corner. As the Warrior was doing his usual running entrance, Rude tried to jump-start the match by attempting a knee to Warrior's stomach, only to find that the Warrior was still wearing the Intercontinental belt and hurt his knee with no effect to the champion. This match was full of rest holds and power moves and ended when Bobby Heenan pulled Warrior's leg out from under him, which caused Rude to fall on top of the champion for the pinfall.  Rude won the match to become the new WWF Interconeintanl Champion.  This was also The Ultimate Warrior's first pinfall loss in the WWF.

The main event featured "Macho Man" Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan with their manager Miss Elizabeth in a neutral corner.  Starting out with a shoving match, eventually, the two found themselves out on the floor.  Hogan chased Savage around ringside before Savage hid behind Miss Elizabeth to set the crowd off in a chorus of boos.  Later, Hogan hit Savage with a series of punches and a corner clothesline, sending him outside to the floor.  Elizabeth checked on Savage, but he pushed her away in anger.  Hogan tried to damage Savage's shoulder with the ring post, but Elizabeth prevented Hogan from doing so.  Savage took advantage and slipped off and rammed Hogan into the ring post.  Referee Dave Hebner then sent Elizabeth to the backstage, and as Hogan was getting up, Savage took advantage.  He went to the top rope and hit a Savage Elbow, but following the pin attempt, Hogan began his "Hulk Up" and his Savage with 3 punches, a big boot, and the leg drop for the victory and his second WWF World Heavyweight Championship. 

Following Wrestlemania, the WWF financed a movie titled "No Holds Barred" in which Hulk Hogan starred as the lead character against Zeus (Tom Lister, Jr.)  As promotion for the film, Hogan and Savage continued their feud as Savage recruited "Zeus" to the WWF.  Hogan enlisted the aid of real-life best friend Brutus Beefcake in the tag team main event at SummerSlam 1989.  The two would meet one final time at Main Event 3 that involved boxer Buster Douglas knocking out The Macho Man.

During all of this, Savage found himself a new manager.  Sensational Sherri interrupted an interview with Miss Elizabeth and Mean Gene Okerlund.  She would serve as Savage's manager until Wrestlemania 7, two years later.  Savage would go on to defeat Hacksaw Jim Duggan at King of the Ring to become "Macho King," and Sherri would be known as the Sensational Queen Sherri.

Hogan would go on to Wrestlemania 6, where he would face off against the WWF's other red hot babyface, The Ultimate Warrior, in a Champion vs. Champion match.

Now, let's all get back on the nostalgia bus as we head out on our collective memory highway to our next stop along the Retro Road to Wrestlemania... 1994's WRESTLEMANIA 10!