Wrestlemania 7 (1991) – A Retrospective Review

In March of 1991, the World Wrestling Federation (WWF, now WWE) presented Wrestlemania 7, an event that promised the usual blend of spectacle, athleticism, and drama. Yet, beneath the surface, this particular Wrestlemania was marred by controversy and a palpable sense of exploitation, as the WWF attempted to capitalize on the real-world tension of the Iraq War, leading to a mixed reception and a notable impact on ticket sales. Let’s dive into the matches and the stories behind them, not forgetting the backdrop of controversy that surrounded the event.

The Rockers def. Haku & The Barbarian w/ Bobby “The Brain” Heenan

Opening the show, The Rockers (Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty) faced off against Haku and The Barbarian, managed by the legendary Bobby “The Brain” Heenan. In a match that showcased high-flying moves and tag team synergy, The Rockers emerged victorious. This bout set the tone for the evening, offering a glimpse of the athleticism Wrestlemania promised, though it barely scratched the surface of the event’s deeper issues.

The Texas Tornado def. Dino Bravo

Kerry Von Erich, aka The Texas Tornado, squared off against Dino Bravo in a match that was more a showcase of Von Erich’s charisma and brute strength than a storytelling masterpiece. The match was short, sweet, and to the point, with Von Erich’s discus punch sealing the deal, a stark contrast to the heavy narratives that would follow.

The British Bulldog def. Warlord w/ Slick

In a classic power vs. power setup, The British Bulldog, Davey Boy Smith, took on The Warlord. With both competitors known for their impressive physiques and strength, this match delivered a straightforward confrontation. Smith’s victory, achieved with a running powerslam, was a feel-good moment, though it was overshadowed by the looming shadow of the event’s exploitation of current events.

World Tag Team Championship: The Nasty Boys w/ Jimmy Hart def. Hart Foundation to become new champions

The Nasty Boys, with Jimmy Hart in their corner, challenged The Hart Foundation (Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart) for the World Tag Team Championship. This match represented a significant shift in the tag team division, with The Nasty Boys’ victory heralding a new era of brash, rule-breaking champions. The match itself was a chaotic affair, fitting the personalities involved, but it also highlighted the formulaic nature of many of Wrestlemania 7’s outcomes—predictable, yet entertaining.

Blindfold Match: Jake “The Snake” Roberts def. “The Model” Rick Martel

Perhaps one of the more unique encounters, the Blindfold Match between Jake “The Snake” Roberts and “The Model” Rick Martel was a spectacle of psychological warfare. Stemming from a storyline where Martel (kayfabe) blinded Roberts with perfume, the match had both competitors blindfolded, relying on the crowd’s reactions to locate each other. While the match was light on technical wrestling, it was rich in storytelling, a creative oasis in an otherwise controversial event.

Undertaker w/ Paul Bearer def. “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka

This match marked the beginning of The Undertaker’s legendary Wrestlemania streak. Facing off against the high-flying “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka, The Undertaker’s victory was a foregone conclusion, yet the manner of his win—dominant, eerie, and compelling—set the stage for what would become one of the most storied careers in wrestling history.

Retirement Match: Ultimate Warrior def. Randy “Macho King” Savage w/ Queen Sherri

In what was arguably the emotional peak of Wrestlemania 7, the Ultimate Warrior and Randy “Macho King” Savage put on a retirement match for the ages. The storyline, filled with betrayal, redemption, and heartache, culminated in a battle that saw Savage’s career come to an end, at least for a time. The match was a rollercoaster of emotions, further intensified by the reunion of Savage with Miss Elizabeth, a moment that remains etched in wrestling lore.

Genichiro Tenryu & Koji Kitao def. Demolition

Representing a partnership with Japan’s wrestling scene, Genichiro Tenryu and Koji Kitao’s victory over Demolition was a display of international talent, though it felt somewhat out of place amidst the heavily American-centric narratives dominating the event.

Intercontinental Championship: Big Boss Man def. Mr. Perfect w/ Bobby “The Brain” Heenan by DQ

In a clash for the Intercontinental Championship, Big Boss Man’s attempt to dethrone Mr. Perfect ended in a disqualification, allowing Mr. Perfect to retain his title. The match highlighted the era’s reliance on disqualifications and count-outs to prolong rivalries, a tactic that, while effective, often left fans feeling unsatisfied.

Earthquake def. Greg “The Hammer” Valentine

A classic David vs. Goliath setup, with Earthquake’s sheer size and power overwhelming Greg “The Hammer” Valentine. This match was a straightforward affair, serving more as a showcase for Earthquake’s dominance than a competitive match.

Legion of Doom def. Power and Glory, Hercules & Paul Roma w/ Slick

The Legion of Doom’s demolition of Power and Glory was a quick, decisive match that underscored the tag team’s raw power and popularity. It was a moment designed to pop the crowd, and it delivered, even if it did little to advance any significant storyline.

Virgil w/ “Rowdy” Roddy Piper def. “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase by count-out

The culmination of a long-running storyline involving betrayal and retribution, Virgil’s victory over Ted DiBiase by count-out was a crowd-pleaser. It marked Virgil’s emergence from DiBiase’s shadow, though the count-out victory meant the feud was far from over.

The Mountie w/ Jimmy Hart def. Tito Santana

A match that felt more like filler than a meaningful confrontation, The Mountie’s victory over Tito Santana did little to elevate either competitor, serving instead as a reminder of the mid-card’s struggle for relevance during this era.

Main Event for WWE Championship: Hulk Hogan def. Sgt. Slaughter w/ General Adnan to become new champion

The main event saw Hulk Hogan challenge Sgt. Slaughter, who had controversially embraced an Iraqi sympathizer gimmick amidst the backdrop of the Gulf War. This match, more than any other, epitomized the WWF’s exploitative use of real-world events for entertainment purposes. Hogan’s victory was a foregone conclusion, a patriotic climax to an event that had uncomfortably blurred the lines between entertainment and exploitation.

Wrestlemania 7 will be remembered not just for its matches but for the controversy surrounding its exploitation of the Iraq War. The event’s attempt to sell a patriotic narrative turned off many casual viewers and highlighted the wrestling industry’s occasional lapse in judgment. Despite this, the event also showcased moments of genuine emotion and athleticism, a testament to the performers’ enduring appeal. Yet, the shadow of cynicism looms large over Wrestlemania 7, a cautionary tale of the fine line between entertainment and insensitivity.

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