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Ranking WrestleMania main events worst to best, #27: Hulk Hogan vs. Sgt. Slaughter

Ranking each of the twenty nine WrestleMania main events from worst to best. Up next is the controversial main event that gave sports entertainment an even worse name.




The year was 1990. Hulk Hogan had passed the torch to Ultimate Warrior, and promised his boss Vince McMahon that he would rue the day that he put the later-named Warrior-Warrior on the top of the house show circuit.

Fast forward to January 1991: Warrior's shtick of 3 minute squashes wasn't exactly enticing fans to shell out hard earned money when the circus came to town. In fact house show revenue was tanking with Warrior at the top of the card. I don't know what to say, other than: Hogan's booking instincts were actually right.


With WrestleMania 7 coming up Vince needed someone else to carry his company. Long time fan favorite Sgt. Slaughter got the nod (and accompanying heel turn) though no one expected him to save the company's live events revenue. His job was to give the belt a credible heel with a program that could carry the company through WrestleMania season.

Everything about this was wrong. Slaughter became an Iraqi sympathizer which, while a shrewd booking move (during the Gulf War), was also a tasteless one. The fact that the war was over a few weeks before WrestleMania was certainly poetic justice.

The match itself was supposed to take place in the Los Angeles Coliseum (it is rumored that Hogan vs. Warrior II was the original idea to main event) but with a severe drop in fan enthusiasm and a change in main event (I'm not even going to bring up the bogus claim about security concerns) led to the move to the much smaller Sports Arena. Needless to say the paint-by-numbers (later-era Hulkamania), slow (Sgt. Slaughter), largely heatless (post-war America) match met the low expectations but not much else.

Obviously the only other match that could have challenged this one for the top spot was the big retirement match between Warrior and Randy Savage. That match certainly stole the show but there was no way it was going to close an event subtitled "Stars and Stripes Forever."

The flaw of the main event lies in the idea to begin with. Why Sgt. Slaughter when there were other heels with more potential for a good main event? Obviously Vince saw dollar signs in exploiting the Iraq war and did not forsee the war's end coming not long after Slaughter's title win. But someone had to have thought this was a bad idea that would backfire (as it did).

Apparently not.

Clearly Hogan was going to get the nod as the top babyface in the match but Hulk wasn't exactly blowing the roofs off arenas anymore either. This wasn't 1987. Imagine if, say, Rick Rude had won the belt from Warrior (capping off their on/off feud throughout 1990) and then had a WrestleMania match with Savage. Hogan and Warrior could have had their big tag match with Slaughter and Adnan here instead of at SummerSlam. That would have been a much better WrestleMania. It would have robbed us of a great WrestleMania moment, but it wouldn't have robbed us of the Macho Man throughout 1991. And as a Macho Madness mark that would have made me very happy.

As it is, it's a main event with an angle no one liked, featuring a match no one enjoyed, in front of a crowd around 70,000 fewer than was originally planned. So many things were working against the event it would be nice if it rose above the bad marks and excelled. It didn't, and it remains one of the worst main events in WrestleMania history.


Sound off, Cagesiders: Was the main event here as bad as it was made out to be? Should it have been higher or lower? Got a better idea about what should have been booked instead of Slaughter's pro-Saddam angle? Let us know.

I'll say this about the WrestleMania 7 main event: At least it was the climax of several months of storytelling.

Tomorrow's entry was the climax of what seemed to be several days of storytelling...



Ranking Mania main events #28: Bret Hart vs. Yokozuna
Ranking Mania main events #29: Lawrence Taylor vs. Bam Bam Bigelow


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