WrestleMania REIMAGINED: WrestleMania IV (WWF Heavyweight Championship Tournament)

On March 27th, 1988 WrestleMania IV took place at the Atlantic City Convention Hall in Atlantic City, New Jersey and sponsored by Donald Trump. This particular WrestleMania was known for the tournament for the Undisputed WWF Heavyweight Championship. It all came about when the feud between Andre the Giant and Hulk Hogan reached a fevered pitch. In a previous edition of Saturday Night’s Main Event, Andre defeated Hogan to become the WWF Heavyweight Champion or so we thought. Referee Earl Hebner’s twin brother of Dave played the role of a corrupt referee that ‘screwed’ Hogan for his championship.  Andre had said that if he had won the title that he would give in to ‘The Million Dollar Man’ Ted DiBiase.

When WWF President Jack Tunney became aware of these nefarious actions he stripped DiBiase of the championship and made the title vacant. He then decided to have a fourteen-man tournament for the vacant championship at the upcoming WrestleMania IV pay per view. At a second glance, a tournament that would have fourteen men should have raised eyebrows. An even sixteen-man tournament would leave even four rounds but fourteen means something would happen.

Opening Round of the Undisputed WWF Heavyweight Championship Tournament

With the first round of the tournament underway, it involved “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase against ‘Hacksaw’ Jim Duggan. DiBiase defeated Duggan by pinfall to advance to the quarterfinals. A second first-round matchup involved “The Rock” Don Muraco faced and defeated Dino Bravo. The result was by disqualification when Bravo had pulled the referee in his way allowing Muraco to hit him with a flying forearm. The remaining match results included; “Macho Man” Randy Savage over “The Natural” Butch Reed, Greg “The Hammer” Valentine over Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat, the One Man Gang beat Bam Bam Bigelow.

The remaining four competitors had either a buy or an interesting result in their match. Andre the Giant and Hulk Hogan were given the first-round bye as their previous championship reigns were rationalized as their reason for advancing to the quarterfinals. The “Ravishing” Rick Rude and Jake “The Snake” Roberts matchup resulted in a time limit draw. Due to the draw between both Rude and Roberts they were both eliminated from the tournament. The winner would have faced the One Man Gang, however with both eliminated he advanced to the tournament quarterfinals.

Quarterfinals of the Undisputed WWF Heavyweight Championship Tournament

Our next round was the round of eight or the quarter-finals of the tournament. In the first match, Hogan and Andre faced one another. The match resulted in a double disqualification as both men used a chair to hit the other. Referee, the late Joey Marella called the bell ending the match. In the process eliminating both men from the tournament. The winner of the other quarterfinals match that was set to face the winner of this match would be granted a bye to the finals now in the tournament. In the other final matchup, Ted DiBiase pinned Don Muraco to advance to the semifinals. However, since he now had no opponent, DiBiase would advance to the finals.

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The other quarterfinals match saw ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage beat Greg ‘The Hammer’ Valentine by pinfall. As a result of this, he would advance to the semifinals of the tournament. The One Man Gang would have faced the winner of the Ravishing Rick Rude and Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts match. However, with both eliminated, he too would be granted a bye to the semifinals of the tournament. One Man Gang would face Randy ‘Macho Man’ Savage in the tournament semifinals. The winner would then advance to face ‘The Million Dollar Man’ Ted DiBiase in the finals.

Semifinals of the Undisputed WWF Heavyweight Championship Tournament

In what was the only semi-finals match, Randy Savage faced the One Man Gang. As mentioned above Ted DiBiase gained a bye to the finals with his semi-finals opponent both being eliminated. He would have faced Hogan or Andre the Giant but that wouldn’t be the case now. During the match with the One Man Gang, Savage was beaten down steadily by the much bigger athlete. When it appeared as though Savage would fall victim to Gang’s 747 splash he was able to avoid the move. This was exactly what Savage needed to regain the advantage. His signature double ax handle off the top rope.

The Doctor of Style, Slick would often interfere in the match striking Savage with a cane and nearly securing a win for his client. However, when it appeared as though Gang would use the cane again, the referee saw it and disqualified him. Savage won the match and would then advance to the finals against the Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase.

Finals of the Championship Tournament

It would be the Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase against the Macho Man Randy Savage to determine the Undisputed WWF Heavyweight Champion. It was a grueling tournament for the face in Savage as he competed 3 times whereas DiBiase only competed once receiving two byes in the process. Fatigue would have certainly been an issue for Savage but not for DiBiase. In the early part of the matchup, DiBiase dictated the pace. Despite trying to make an attempt at a top rope elbow drop on DiBiase, Savage missed early on. As the match progressed, DiBiase had his patented Million Dollar Dream finisher on Savage. At this point, Elizabeth went to the back and brought Hulk Hogan out from the back to help even the odds at ringside with Andre the Giant being in Ted DiBiase’s corner.

Andre attempted to interfere but the referee was distracted by his presence. At this point, Hogan would strike DiBiase with a steel chair knocking him out in the process. Savage then climbed to the top rope and hit his patented elbow drop onto the fallen DiBiase. He makes the cover for the 1..2…3. The winner and the UNDISPUTED WWF HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION..RANDY ‘MACHO MAN’ SAVAGE. Thee once-vacant title now had an owner and his name was the Macho Man. They would collectively celebrate the win and the new champion.