Sunday Sermon: Recasting WrestleMania III

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Jamie Lithgow, John Carbery and Brian Damage

With Wrestlemania XXXIII fast approaching today we pause for breath to reflect on the fact that it has been 30 years since Wrestlemania III; regarded as the pinnacle of the 1980s boom period in wrestling. Mixing new school with old school, in today’s Sunday Sermon we try to recast the performers on this seminal show with modern-day WWE Superstars. Can anyone on the current roster do justice to the roles of Hogan, Andre, Savage and Steamboat? Or, has the product evolved so much that such comparisons are no longer even possible?

Jamie: First of all, I guess it would be helpful to remind ourselves of the card from the Silverdome on March 29th 1987:
  • Bob Orton & The Magnificent Muraco (w/Mr. Fuji) vs. The Can-Am Connection (Rick Martel & Tom Zenk)
  • Billy Jack Haynes vs. Hercules (w/Bobby Heenan)
  • Haiti Kid, Hillbilly Jim & Little Beaver vs. King Kong Bundy, Little Tokyo & Lord Littlebrook
  • Loser Must Kneel And Bow Match: King Harley Race (w/Bobby Heenan & The Fabulous Moolah) vs. The Junkyard Dog
  • The Dream Team (Brutus Beefcake & Greg Valentine) (w/Dino Bravo & Johnny V) vs. The Rougeau Brothers (Jacques Rougeau & Raymond Rougeau)
  • Hair vs. Hair Match: Adrian Adonis (w/Jimmy Hart) vs. Roddy Piper
  • The British Bulldogs (Davey Boy Smith & The Dynamite Kid) & Tito Santana vs. The Hart Foundation (Bret Hart, Danny Davis & Jim Neidhart) (w/Jimmy Hart)
  • Butch Reed (w/Slick) vs. Koko B. Ware
  • WWF Intercontinental Title Match: Randy Savage (w/Miss Elizabeth) (c) vs. Ricky Steamboat (w/George Steele)
  • Jake Roberts (w/Alice Cooper) vs. The Honky Tonk Man (w/Jimmy Hart)
  • Nikolai Volkoff & The Iron Sheik (w/Slick) vs. The Killer Bees (B. Brian Blair & Jim Brunzell)
  • WWF World Heavyweight Title Match: Hulk Hogan (c) vs. Andre The Giant (w/Bobby Heenan)
First thing’s first, John Cena is Hulk Hogan, right? Secondly, do we go with literal size of a Big Show or Braun Storwman to represent Andre or should he be represented by Cena’s toughest possible opponent, as Andre was to Hogan?
John:Perhaps a heel Undertaker fits in the Andre spot? He’s incredibly over, physically broken down and sadly well beyond his prime. But put in against someone like Cena for one last major match he could be effective. A lot more effective than Cena in a mid card mixed tag affair anyway.

Jamie: “He’s incredibly over, physically broken down and sadly well beyond his prime” Sadly you’re spot on with The Undertaker in 2017 and Andre in 1987 with that remark, so I think we could have a winner there. Also, just like with Hogan and Andre, it’s been so long since Cena faced Taker that I’m sure WWE could convince us that it has never happened before, as they did in 1987 with Hogan and Andre.

The next obvious big match is Savage vs. Steamboat for the Intercontinental Title, when that was a title worth holding. I’m struggling to think of anyone with a gimmick quite like Savage’s. Could The Miz be his 21st century equivalent? Maryse is hardly the Miss Elizabeth sort though. Or, if we go down the route of paying more attention to ring work, could Seth Rollins be our man?

John: The closest thing to Macho Man in WWE right now is probably Nakamura. While he doesn’t resemble Savage much in any way, he does possess the essential mix of athleticism, eccentricity, charisma and psychology that Savage exhibited so well. Both Nakamura and Savage would probably have equal stats if they were video game characters but they’re completely different individuals.

Daniel Bryan would’ve made a perfect stand in for Steamboat with his natural babyface qualities and technical skill. As far as active wrestlers, a babyface AJ Styles might do the trick.

Jamie: YES! Nakamura as Macho Man makes total sense. They’re so different, but also so similar. It’s a shame Savage wasn’t in his ‘Macho King’ phase at Wrestlemania 3, Nakamura being a king himself of course. Also, as Bryan is still a WWE character I’d say he counts. The Daniel Bryan from 2010 would be a perfect Ricky ‘The Dragon’ Steamboat. This was a guy over with fans purely due to being talented and a nice guy. Even better, in a previous life he was also a dragon, an ‘American Dragon’…

So we have Cena vs. Taker instead of Hogan vs. Andre and Bryan vs. Nakamura instead on Steamboat vs. Savage. Surprisingly there was not a Tag Title match at Wrestlemania 3, so I guess the next biggest match would be Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts vs. The Honky Tonk Man. Some big boots to fill here, and no, we can’t use Rockabilly for Honky! Is Bray Wyatt as Roberts the closest we can get?

John: Well Randy Orton is still called the Viper so maybe he’d work? He also has a finisher that’s super over like Jake’s DDT was. But you’re right in saying that Bray is the closest in character. Orton’s Viper persona never sat well with me, it just seemed like an arbitrary nickname.

The Miz is probably the closest thing to Honky Tonk, being a conceited heel with a phoney celebrity gimmick. Of course there’s also the Drifter Elias Samson if you need the whole guitar thing.

Jamie: I did think about Orton, purely based on his ‘Viper’ nickname. But like you, I’ve never seen it as anything more than a nickname. I mean, if he were still using ‘The Legend Killer’ name would he even enter this conversation? I’m not saying Bray Wyatt is the same or as good as Jake Roberts, but with his persona and promo style I’d say he’s the closest thing WWE have right now.

Love The Miz as The Honky Tonk Man! He’s approaching it from a different angle, but The Miz does occupy that same role as Honky. By that, I mean he’s a proper mid-card heel. The Miz just does not get cheered, ever. He’s a true heel that fans love to hate, like The Honky Tonk Man in his prime.

We should probably look at the tag team matches now, and the one that catches my eye is The Bulldogs and Tito Santana vs. The Hart Foundation and Danny Davis. My pitch here would be American Alpha as the powerful, yet technical, Bulldogs and possibly New Day as The Hart Foundation? Failing that, DIY in NXT seem to have that Hart Foundation dynamic with Gargano as the more scientific wrestler while Ciampa is a more straight forward, smashmouth type guy. How about James Elsworth as Davis and oh, let’s say Apollo Crews as a completely generic babyface in the role of Santana?

Oh, and Roddy Piper vs. Adrian Adonis; that’s Dean Ambrose vs. Tyler Breeze, right?

Brian: Bray Wyatt has to be the most logical choice to replace the Snake. Therefore, I think Bray Wyatt should take on say Heath Slater. I always envisioned Slater as the heir to the Honkytonk mantle. As for Roddy Piper versus Adrian Adonis, I like the Miz as a Piper replacement simply because his mic skills are up there with the very best.

What about the King Kong Bundy and the midgets taking on Hillbilly Jim and his midget tandem? LOL I say the Big Show and Luke Harper be the two “heavyweights” in that contest.

Jamie: Agreed. It’s funny that without thinking about it, one would likely cast Show as Andre, but he’s totally a King Kong Bundy. Harper is a hillbilly too, so that makes sense. Not quite as fun loving as Jim, but nonetheless…

Happy to sub The Miz for Slater as The Honky Tonk Man, I’d forgotten about him because he’s hiding in the tag ranks again. I’m not sold on The Miz as Piper though, largely because I’m not sold on The Miz generally. Pretty sure Piper was the babyface too. I can’t recall Miz as a good guy. I’m sure it’s happened, but he can’t have been very memorable because I have no recollection of it. We can wait for a casting vote on that one, who plays Piper; Miz or Ambrose?

In terms of the really big characters on the show, I think the two remaining spots to fill would be King Harley Race vs. The Junkyard Dog. During the mid-00s Triple H clearly wanted to be Harley Race, so shall we just let him here? He’s also the ‘King of Kings’. JYD has some mighty bog boots to fill, though. We need someone universally popular and unbelievably charismatic, despite their actual in-ring output. Dare I say, Enzo Amore? I know, I felt bad saying that but he does tick those boxes. Either that or I can totally imagine Big E doing good JYD impersonation.

You can read all previous Sunday Sermons here.

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2 thoughts on “Sunday Sermon: Recasting WrestleMania III

  1. Wrestlemania 3 was an awesome event. I still have it on VHS and watch it once in a while just to remember the good old days. Loved the matches and the crowd excitement.👍

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: This Week in Wrestling 2017 week 12 | Ring the Damn Bell

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