WWF WrestleMania 5: The Mega Powers Explode (1989) – A Retrospective Review

Wrestlemania 5: Mullets, Muscle, and Mayhem

Ah, 1989, the era of neon, wild perms, and wrestling performances so over-the-top that they make soap operas look subtle. Wrestlemania 5 had a tagline that said it all: “The Mega Powers Explode!” And explode they did, not with the subtlety of a firecracker but with the raucous boom of a dynamite-filled piñata.

Hercules vs. King Haku

Dive into the world of Greek gods and Polynesian royalty clashing in the squared circle. While neither Hercules nor Haku was directly out of their respective mythologies, their physical presence and intensity gave them a larger-than-life aura. There was enough hair oil in this match to rival the annual output of a small island nation. Hercules, with his chains, showed off his power, while Haku, with his martial arts moves, was a testament to agility. A match that, while not the most technical, had enough raw power and intensity to kick the night off.

The Twin Towers vs. The Rockers

Big guys versus quick guys. While Akeem and Big Boss Man, the Twin Towers, had the size advantage, Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty, the Rockers, had speed and agility. It was the classic “big unstoppable force” meets “small immovable object” scenario. Also, it’s hard to focus on the wrestling when you’re distracted by the sheer volume of Marty Jannetty’s mullet. Truly, an eighth wonder of the world.

Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake vs. “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase

The clashing of two incredible personas: one who loves to flaunt his wealth and another with a penchant for bizarre post-match haircuts. It’s like watching Wall Street meet a really aggressive SuperCuts. DiBiase, with his ever-faithful bodyguard Virgil, had the upper hand in devious tactics, but Beefcake’s sheer unpredictability kept the Million Dollar Man on his toes.

The Fabulous Rougeaus vs. The Bushwhackers

Cultural stereotypes abound! The “sophisticated” French-Canadians against the wild New Zealanders. Watching the Bushwhackers’ walk alone was worth the price of admission. In a mix of humor and hard hits, this tag team bout was an enjoyable spectacle, if not a masterclass in technical wrestling.

Mr. Perfect vs. The Blue Blazer

Before he was known globally as Owen Hart, he was the high-flying Blue Blazer. Going up against the technically brilliant Mr. Perfect, this was a wrestling purist’s dream. While Mr. Perfect’s gimmick was being, well, perfect, The Blue Blazer’s aerial artistry was a marvel to behold.

Demolition vs. Powers of Pain & Mr. Fuji – WWF Tag Team Championship Match

This handicap match for the Tag Team Championships showcased Demolition’s sheer dominance. The face-painted Ax and Smash were the ultimate 80s tag team, and their battle against the Powers of Pain and their sneaky manager, Mr. Fuji, was a testament to their resilience.

Dino Bravo vs. Ronnie Garvin

Ah, the irresistible force meets another… slightly less irresistible force? The French-Canadian strongman Dino Bravo, accompanied by the living embodiment of 1989 – Frenchie Martin, faced the hands of stone, Ronnie Garvin. If you had a dollar for every time “Canada” was said during this match, you’d probably have enough to buy a decent poutine.

The Brain Busters vs. Strike Force

Tag team wrestling at its finest. Tito Santana and Rick Martel, collectively known as Strike Force, squared off against Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard, the Brain Busters. In an unfortunate turn of events, miscommunication led to Rick Martel walking out on his partner. If only they had couples therapy back then.

Jake “The Snake” Roberts vs. André the Giant

The literal giant of wrestling faced the man with the cold, reptilian gaze (and an actual snake). André, with his overwhelming presence, and Jake, with his psychological warfare, delivered a match that was more of a mental chess game than a physical confrontation.

The Hart Foundation vs. Honky Tonk Man & Greg Valentine

Bret “Hitman” Hart and Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart brought their technical prowess and strength against the Elvis impersonator and his blonde cohort. It was rhythm and blues against pure wrestling mastery.

The Ultimate Warrior vs. “Ravishing” Rick Rude – WWF Intercontinental Championship Match

As the match began, the stark contrast between the two was immediately evident. The Ultimate Warrior, with his high energy, ran to the ring, shaking the ropes and getting the crowd hyped. Rick Rude, in contrast, took his sweet time, ensuring that everyone got a view of his chiseled physique and his provocative hip gyrations, much to the distaste of the audience (and probably a secret delight to a few).

Rude, with his technical prowess, tried to ground the Warrior, utilizing his strength and Heenan’s outside interference whenever he could. There were moments it seemed Rude had the match in the bag, especially with his cunning tactics and Heenan’s distraction. But Warrior, never one to be counted out, powered back with his unparalleled intensity.

However, it was Rude’s psychological tactics and Heenan’s involvement that truly made the difference. In a crucial moment, as Warrior attempted to suplex Rude back into the ring from the apron, Heenan grabbed Warrior’s leg, allowing Rude to fall on top and secure the pin, winning the Intercontinental Championship. It was a shocking upset, achieved through less than honorable means.

Behind-the-Scenes Tidbits
Behind the scenes, this match was a testament to both wrestlers’ professionalism. The Ultimate Warrior was often criticized for his limited in-ring skills, but this match showcased how, with the right opponent, he could be part of a compelling bout. Rude’s selling and bumping made Warrior look like a million bucks.

Additionally, this feud and match at WrestleMania 5 helped elevate the Intercontinental title. It demonstrated that the secondary title could produce a storyline just as engaging, if not more so, than the main event scene.

“Macho Man” Randy Savage vs. Hulk Hogan – WWF Championship Match

When discussing the most memorable feuds in professional wrestling, the colossal clash between Hulk Hogan and “Macho Man” Randy Savage at WrestleMania 5 must be mentioned. Taglined as “The Mega Powers Explode”, this match had everything: drama, passion, betrayal, and the culmination of a year-long storyline. This wasn’t just a championship match; it was personal.

The seeds for this conflict were sown when Hogan and Savage, two of the WWF’s brightest stars, formed an alliance called The Mega Powers. Initially, they stood side by side, taking on the company’s most formidable villains. But as with many wrestling alliances, ego, mistrust, and jealousy started creeping in.

Central to the drama was Miss Elizabeth, Savage’s real-life wife and on-screen manager. Hogan’s seemingly innocent overtures to her, from saving her from danger to celebrating victories, irked Savage. He grew increasingly paranoid and suspicious of Hogan’s intentions. In a masterstroke of storytelling, the WWF played on Savage’s real-life protective nature toward Elizabeth, adding a layer of authenticity to the angle.

The Match
The atmosphere was electric as the two titans squared off for the WWF Championship. With Miss Elizabeth torn between her allegiance, she decided to remain neutral, adding further intrigue.

In the ring, the two displayed their contrasting styles: Hogan’s power and showmanship against Savage’s unmatched athleticism and intensity. Savage, always the tactician, targeted Hogan’s injured ribs throughout the bout, demonstrating a ruthless edge.

As with any classic Hogan match, there were the trademark “Hulk Up” moments, where he’d feed off the crowd’s energy to mount a comeback. Savage, on the other hand, had the crowd on the edge of their seats with near falls, especially after delivering his patented elbow drop.

The climax saw Hogan hulk up one final time, avoiding another flying elbow from Savage, and then dropping the big leg for the win. Hogan was once again the WWF Champion, but more than the title, he’d won the battle against betrayal.

Behind-the-Scenes Tidbits
Behind the scenes, this match’s success was due to the chemistry between Hogan and Savage. Both were professionals who understood the business and the art of storytelling. Their real-life tension added an extra layer to their on-screen feud, making it all the more compelling.

Additionally, Hogan and Savage were known to meticulously plan their matches. Their WrestleMania 5 encounter was no exception. Every move, every emotion was carefully choreographed to keep the audience engaged and invested.

In Retrospect
The Hogan vs. Savage showdown remains one of the most iconic main events in WrestleMania history. It wasn’t just about athletic prowess, but a deeply woven narrative of friendship, betrayal, and redemption. The match epitomized the golden age of wrestling, where character-driven storylines were as crucial, if not more, than in-ring action.

The legacy of this feud is evident in how it’s still remembered and referenced today. It set the template for many subsequent wrestling storylines – the dissolution of partnerships due to mistrust and jealousy, and the subsequent climactic showdown. In the annals of wrestling history, this remains a timeless tale of when two mega powers collided.

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