WrestleMania Moments: An In-Ring Classic & A Legend Retires


In part one of our two-part look back at WrestleMania III earlier today, we dispelled the myth of WWE breaking the world indoor attendance record during the event, as well as gave a detailed breakdown of the build-up to the legendary Hulk Hogan vs. Andre The Giant main event. In part two below, we will give you the back-story to the Randy Savage vs. Ricky Steamboat classic, as well as the lead-up to Roddy Piper’s first (of many) retirement match.

For those who missed part one, check it out at WrestleMania Moments: New World Indoor Attendance Record

For many years, one match stood out above all of the others when it comes to classic in-ring performances at WrestleMania. Not only did WrestleMania III have the biggest crowd and the biggest main event of all-time, it had the biggest in-ring classic in many years in the form of “Macho Man” Randy Savage vs. Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat.

Savage-Steamboat was somewhat of a changing of the guard, at least in WWE. WWE was “the big man” promotion, so their fans were accustomed to a certain style of matches. Sure, Savage and Steamboat wasn’t the first good wrestling match, but it was one of the first that utilized a style that remains on big WWE events to this very day. They utilized one match feature that I think is incredibly overused today — the false-finish.

For those who don’t know, a false-finish is basically when you convince the crowd that after executing a specific move — generally a wrestler’s “finishing move” — that the wrestler who performed the move will make the cover and get the win, only for the wrestler on the receiving end to kick-out just before the referee counts three.

Savage and Steamboat had many “false-finishes” in their match, and to the WWF fans at the time, it made for an incredibly exciting match. Because WWE still uses this style on their pay-per-views for big matches, fans of today’s generation of wrestling could go back and watch Savage and Steamboat right now and still view it through today’s eyes as a great match. There are very few matches from back in the time period of WrestleMania III (mainly WWF matches) where you could say that.

While the match itself would seem great through today’s eyes, the build-up to the match would seem goofy as hell to a fan of today’s product. The basic story behind Savage and Steamboat was that Savage had crushed Steamboat’s larynx after knocking him throat-first onto the ringside guard rail, and following it up by coming off the top-rope and landing directly on Steamboat’s throat with the ring bell. While that may not seem “goofy as hell” on paper — and it wasn’t — the weeks that followed where we watched Steamboat with speech coaches trying to learn how to speak again would.

The other top match going into WrestleMania III was “Rowdy” Roddy Piper vs. Adrian Adonis. The story here was that Piper was going to “retire” after this match, basically an excuse to take some time off and film some movies, specifically John Carpenter’s “They Live,” a movie that actually had pretty big box office success.

On WWF television, it was never acknowledged that Piper was leaving to film movies, and Piper himself may have convinced those behind-the-scenes at the time that he actually was retiring. To the WWF audience, the story behind this match was centered around the battle of the talk show segments. Piper had his legendary “Piper’s Pit,” but that segment was taken over by Adonis’ “Flower Shop.”

To make a long story short, the two verbally sparred with each other for a while, including Piper being turned on by his trusty bodyguard “Cowboy” Bob Orton. Piper ultimately took a baseball bat to the set of “The Flower Shop” and the stage was set for a “hair vs. hair” match at WrestleMania III. It was also Piper’s “retirement match.”

Due to the long walk to the ring, WWF utilized some mobile carts in the shape of mini-wrestling rings that would transport the wrestlers to the ring. When the time came for Piper to make his entrance, his cart had apparently malfunctioned, so Piper basically had to jog his way to the squared-circle.

The match itself was what it was, and in the end, Piper locked in his sleeper hold on Adonis and put the host of “The Flower Shop” to sleep. Piper, not wanting to cut the wet hair of Adonis, had Brutus Beefcake use a pair of scissors to do the haircut. This led to Beefcake becoming Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake, a character whose gimmick was that he would cut the hair of his opponents when he would defeat them in matches.

So those two matches were the key undercard bouts. The main event, as legendary as it seems in hindsight, was really nothing special. It was a typical slow-paced “big man” match, but due to the fact that both were iconic figures and the fact that Hogan slammed Andre, a “WrestleMania moment” that ranks up there with the biggest and best to this day, the match served as a great main event for what would be an enormously successful show.

Between closed-circuit television, pay-per-view and the astonishing amount of people attending live, WrestleMania III was viewed by millions of fans. Andre passed the torch to Hogan. Savage and Steamboat put on an in-ring classic for the ages. “The Hot Rod” said goodbye, for now, to his legions of fans. All in all, WrestleMania III was one of the most legendary events in the history of professional wrestling.

As we continue to travel down the road to WrestleMania XXX, stay tuned to eWrestlingNews.com for further editions of our “WrestleMania Moments” editorial series. For those who have missed the previous installments of our “WrestleMania Moments” series, check out some of the following links:

WrestleMania Moments: Celebs Kick-Start History

WrestleMania Moments: 3 Locations, 1 Historic Night

WrestleMania Moments: New World Indoor Attendance Record

And as always, we want to hear from you! Leave your feedback in the “Comments” section below. You can also hit me up directly at Facebook.com/MattBooneWZR.

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