Going into WrestleMania IV, the odds-on favorite for the WWF Championship Tournament had to be Hulk Hogan. Hogan had carried the company to unprecedented success ever since his title win in 1984, headlining three WrestleManias as well as the new pay-per-view (PPV) Survivor Series. There was no question that there was still plenty of money to be made from Hulkamania.
From a Kayfabe perspective, Hogan seemed like the man to beat. Hogan had not been
cleanly pinned since his return to the WWF in 1984. Furthermore, he had a first round bye in the championship tournament and while he had to face Andre the Giant in round two, Hogan had proven that he could defeat Andre after his pinfall win over him at WrestleMania III. Many fans (myself included) believed that Hogan was going to regain the WWF championship.
The rules of the tournament were explained by celebrity guest Robin Leach (host of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous). Leach informed the fans that victory could be obtained by pinfall, submission, count-out, or disqualification. The winner would advance to the next round while the loser would be eliminated from the tournament.
In the event of a time limit draw, both wrestlers would be eliminated (First round matches had fifteen minute time limits, second round matches had twenty minute time limits, third round matches had thirty minute time limits, and the final match had no time limit).
The first round saw Ted DiBiase pin “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, Don Muraco win by disqualification over Dino Bravo, Greg “The Hammer” Valentine pin Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat, Randy “Macho Man” Savage pin “The Natural” Butch Reed, One Man Gang edge a win over “Bam Bam” Bigelow by count-out, and Jake “The Snake” Roberts and “Ravishing” Rick Rude wrestle to a 15 minute time limit draw (thus both men were eliminated).
The second round began with the much anticipated rematch between Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant. Prior to the match, Hulk Hogan cut one of the most surreal promos in his career. Hogan talked of slamming Andre the Giant into the Trump Plaza and sending it and everyone into the ocean. Hogan advised Donald Trump to let go of his worldly possessions and hang on to his family. Hogan promised his Hulkamaniacs that if they couldn’t swim, that they should jump on the biggest back in the world and he’d doggie paddle them all to safety. Hogan then backstroked away, prepared for his match.
The time for hype was over. Andre the Giant made his way to the ring, escorted by “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase and DiBiase’s bodyguard Virgil. Hulk Hogan made his way to the ring, sliding under the bottom rope. Andre was waiting for him and proceeded to attack the Hulkster, using his devastating headbutts to stun his opponent. Hogan fought back but like his previous matches with Andre, he found it difficult to knock the “Eight Wonder of the World” off of his feet. To make matters worse, DiBiase and Virgil interfered in the match wherever they could. At one point, Hogan grabbed DiBiase and Andre and gave them a double noggin knocker, momentarily gaining some momentum.
With just twenty minutes to win the match, Hogan pulled out all of the stops. He finally seemed to have things going his way when he forced Andre into the corner. Hogan prepared to slam Andre. He knew that if he could slam the Giant, he might be able to repeat his victory from Wrestlemania III. However while Virgil distracted the referee, Ted DiBiase snuck into the ring with a steel chair and cracked it over Hogan’s back as the Hulkster was trying to hoist Andre up. Prevented from slamming Andre, Hogan turned his attention to DiBiase who promptly fled the ring.
Hogan picked up the steel chair and went after Andre. By now, the referee’s attention had turned back to the ring and he saw Hogan blast Andre with the chair. Then Andre grabbed the chair and clobbered Hogan. Announcers Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse “The Body” Ventura wondered what was going on as were the members in the audience.
Meanwhile, Hogan went out after the “Million Dollar Man”. DiBiase’s bodyguard knew his role and he prevented Hogan from getting to his client. Unfortunately for Virgil, he incurred the Hulkster’s wrath and was suplexed on the floor. DiBiase got away, ready for his second round match against Don Muraco.
The announcer revealed that both men had been disqualified. This was an interesting decision to say the least because in most cases, the referee would have disqualified Hogan immediately for using the steel chair. Regardless, this meant that both Hogan and Andre had been eliminated. That meant that there would be a new WWF champion crowned after the tournament. After years of Hulk Hogan carrying the WWF banner, a new wrestler was poised to lead the company.
Despite being eliminated from the tournament, the Hulkster posed for his fans after the match. Announcer Jesse “The Body” Ventura questioned what Hogan had to celebrate but his colleague Gorilla Monsoon pointed out that Hogan was merely giving the fans what they wanted.
The third round saw “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase receive a bye. That meant that the only match in the third round was between “Macho Man” Randy Savage and the One Man Gang. The Gang had received a bye in the second round while Savage had wrestled a grueling match with the ever cagey veteran Greg “The Hammer” Valentine. Although Savage had trouble overcoming the Gang’s power and weight advantage, he more than held his own.
Perhaps frustrated by his inability to put Savage away, the One Man Gang took his manager Slick’s cane and tried to use it against Savage while Slick distracted the referee. This illegal activity ended up costing the One Man Gang the match as the referee turned around and saw him with the cane, disqualifying him immediately.
Savage proceeded to the finals where he faced “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase. DiBiase’s bodyguard Virgil was absent thanks to the suplex he sustained outside the ring at the hands of Hulk Hogan. However DiBiase was not alone-he brought Andre the Giant to the ring with him. Savage (accompanied by Miss Elizabeth) had wrestled three matches already and he had to face a rested DiBiase as well as possible interference from Andre.
It didn’t take long for Andre to interject himself into the match. While Savage seemed capable of defeating DiBiase, there was no way that he could overcome DiBiase and Andre together. Miss Elizabeth stepped up onto the ring apron and Savage whispered something to her. Elizabeth headed for the back, a move that Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse Ventura remarked they’d seen happen before.
The fans at Trump Plaza seemed to know what was going on because no sooner had Elizabeth headed to the back that they started chanting “Hogan, Hogan”. Just as the fans suspected, Elizabeth had gone to the back for some much needed assistance from Hulk Hogan. The lovely Elizabeth brought Hogan to ringside where he immediately made it known that he wasn’t going to put up with any interference from Andre.
What happened next also showed everyone that Hogan was looking for payback on DiBiase not only for interfering in his earlier match against Andre the Giant but for conspiring to rob Hogan of the WWF championship back in February. When DiBiase put his submission hold “The Million Dollar Dream” on Savage, it looked like he might win the match and win the WWF championship. However while the referee was distracted, Hogan snuck into the ring and cracked a steel chair over DiBiase’s back, stunning him and releasing Savage from the hold.
With the momentum in his favor, Savage went on to pin DiBiase, winning the WWF championship. Hogan then brought the WWF championship belt into the ring and handed it to Savage, congratulating “The Macho Man” on his first WWF championship. Savage then hoisted his manager onto his shoulder and handed her the championship belt, recognizing her contributions to his victory.
Thanks again to Graham Cawthon for his awesome resource page http://www.thehistoryofwwe.com/ !