411’s Top 30 WrestleMania Matches of All Time: #15 - Ultimate Warrior vs. Randy Savage (WM 7)
Posted by Larry Csonka on 03.22.2014
411 continues its look at the top 30 matches in the history of WrestleMania with the Ultimate Warrior vs. Randy Savage from WrestleMania 7!
Welcome back to 411Mania, and welcome to 411's official countdown to WrestleMania 30! Every year, the 411 staff comes together in some way to bring you, the fine readers of our site, a special countdown to WrestleMania. In past years we have done special countdown columns, ranking the shows, rating them overall, discussing special aspects of the big event, and even columns that have served as odes to the matches and moments that are etched into our minds.
To some fans, WrestleMania is the biggest show of the year, and the way that WWE has transformed the event into a near weeklong party, it may as well be a holiday to the fans that love our special brand of entertainment. Call it sport or call it a specially designed male soap opera, we love it and we love to talk about what makes things special. WrestleMania is an institution, and this year, as the WWE gets prepared to put on their 30th WrestleMania event, we decided to go big. Starting on March 7th, and running all the way to April 5th, 411 will present the top 30 matches in WrestleMania history.
Each writer on the 411 staff was given the opportunity to nominate 30 matches of their choosing. #1 on their list received 30 points, #2 received 29 points, and so on and so forth. Writers were asked to base their lists on both match quality and historical significance to create their nominations. The final list was created, and there was a ton of competition for the top spot. In fact, the voting was so tight that the top FOUR matches were separated by a mere 16-points.
Each day we will present a match from the list, which will include a full recap of the match from the 411 archives (from Scott Slimmer, JD Dunn, and Robert Leighty Jr.) as well as thoughts from the writers. Thank you for reading, and we hope that you enjoy our presentation…
#15. From WrestleMania 7 – Retirement Match: Ultimate Warrior vs. Randy Savage
Bobby Heenan notices Miss Elizabeth sitting out in the crowd. I guess she doesn't have the connections that Red Hat Guy does because she's way in the back. Sherri distracts Warrior early, allowing Savage to blindside him. Warrior shrugs him off and destroys him with atomic drops and a chokelift. Sherri runs in, so Warrior tosses Savage into her. Savage gets tied in the ropes and takes a few shots. Warrior press slams him and then just sets him down and slaps him in the face. Finally, Warrior misses a charge and goes over the top. Sherri gets in a few cheapshots, and Savage comes off the top with a double ax-handle. Sherri gets in a few more shots, so Warrior shoves her down. Back in, Warrior misses a flying shoulder block and goes face first into the mat. Warrior counters a slam to a small package, which exhausts his move set, and right when the ref is distracted by Sherri too. Savage knees the Warrior into referee Earl Hebner. Sherri and Savage try a double team, but Sherri takes out her own man! Oops. Great reaction from Sherri there. The Warrior chases her around the ring but gets schoolboyed for two as the ref recovers. Savage hotshots him and snaps his throat on the top rope. FLYING ELBOWDROP! ANOTHER! ANOTHER! ANOTHER! ANOTHER! Warrior should be dead at this point, but HE KICKS OUT! Savage can't believe it. Warrior "fokes" (as he likes to call it) and hits a few clotheslines. PRESS SLAM! SPLASH! ONE, TWO, THRE-NO! Now, Savage kicks out! The crowd is going nuts. Warrior asks his hands what the deal is and gets some advice from the Almighty – you know, Herb, the guy who arranges the lights up at the top of the arena. Savage jumps Warrior from behind, interrupting the rapture. Sherri holds Warrior's throat over the railing, and Savage comes off for a double ax-handle, but Warrior shoves her back. Savage's chin bounces right off the metal railing. Well, that's no good. Back in, Warrior sends Savage flying out of the ring with a shoulder block. He tosses him back in and knocks him right back out again with a flying shoulder block. And another. Savage is legally dead, so Warrior drags him back in and pins him with a boot to the chest at 20:47. I'd rank this up there with Hart-Piper and Hart-Austin as the best-booked matches in WrestleMania history. Ironically, Savage would be competing for the title at next year's show, and Warrior would be begging for his job back.
- By JD Dunn
Scott Rutherford: Wrestling has often been described as a "soap opera for men". While that term is debatable it is true that some of the more grandiose storylines have that "daytime TV" leaning. However, when done right the elements of soap opera and wrestling make a very nice fit indeed. You see, storylines make us interested in seeing a certain match, great storylines will make us want to pay serious money to see a match and in this case, where the very best of soap opera and wrestling meet you create something that can go past expected boundaries and give us something wholly unexpected and rewarding.
I have stated previously on this site that the Randy Savage storyline arc from debut up until WM8 where he beat Ric Flair for his second WWE Title may be the single greatest character arc ever in wrestling. This match was a key component in that.
Having run the roller coaster up to the very top of the mountain and winning the WWE title at WM4, the ensuing years weren't the kindest to Savage and the period of time leading up to this match was, storyline-wise, Randy's lowest point. He had lost his title, the fan support, the woman he loved and took up with a crazy lady (Sheri) who was more than a little scary and was owned in a feud with the "common man" Dusty Rhodes. After being rejected by Warrior for a title match, Savage cost Warrior his title at the Royal Rumble with a well time scepter shot and thus, making himself a very dangerous enemy
The Warrior himself had also traveled a singularly hard road into the match. Having burst onto the scene barely three years before he quickly rose to the top of the heap and became one of the few men to cleanly pin Hulk Hogan and not incidentally became the WWF champ. Having a title run marred politics and lackluster feuds, he lost his title only to see it hot shotted onto Hogan on the very night of this match.
Both men needed to prove a lot of things both in real terms and kayfabe. Both men were tapped to be Hulk Hogan successors and managed to make good on that premise with varying degrees of luck. Savage needed to make people realize he wasn't a spent force and Warrior needed to prove that if he was given a real chance he could have been the leader the WWF needed to break away from Hogan once and for all.
This match is pretty much a contest of the Ultimate Warriors strength versus the speed and smarts of Randy Savage. Every time Warrior started to dominate, Savage would find a way to work back into the match but eventually Savage ran out of ways to avoid Warrior and Warrior to his credit, changed his game plan to suit the situations and avoided getting drawn into mind games and patiently waiting for Savage to make a fatal mistake. When that mistake came Warrior finally took control and ended up winning the match after a series of running shoulder blocks and pinning Savage with one foot on his spent body.
Afterwards Sheri, having had enough of the now bottomed out Savage started to berate and demean Randy and suddenly out from the crowd runs Elizabeth to fight Sheri off and unite with the man she always loved and creating one of the truly magical WM moments that was equal parts great lead in, great match, great story telling and perfect blow-off. Both men gave their all in the ring and this was without doubt the greatest match Warrior ever had and very nearly the best for Savage as well.
There is a certain artistry that goes into wrestling that will never truly be recognized. To create a compelling storyline and feud that contained so many threads of fiction and reality that built to an epic encounter that was not only a great match but manages to close up all those threads in such a way that satisfies the crowd and makes both wrestlers involved bigger stars than before the match began. On very rare occasions has this been achieved and in this instance you may have the very best example of it.
Steve Cook: The Ultimate Warrior's tights for this match showing a picture of the WWF title belt with the phrase "Means Much More Than This" around it got some heat from some folks, but in a lot of ways it was 100% accurate. This was the first Career-Ending Match in WrestleMania history, and it was years before such matches aired every week on television. Warrior & "Macho King" Randy Savage were two of the WWF's biggest stars. Both were WWF Champions, both had headlined WrestleMania against Hulk Hogan, and both had larger-than-life personalities. The buildup to the match was a good piece of business, as Savage cost Warrior the WWF Championship at the Royal Rumble after Warrior refused to defend the title against him at a later date. That was enough for Warrior & Savage to decide that the WWF was not big enough for the two of them.
Lots of interesting stuff happened in this match. Warrior didn't run down to the ring like he usually did. He walked down the entranceway and didn't start doing his usual thing until he ran on the apron & shook the ropes. Randy Savage hit five elbow drops on the Warrior. People that don't like this match often cite that as a reason why, but I've always thought that in the context of it being a career vs. career match it made sense. Also, Savage got to kick out of the splash so neither guy's finisher worked. The bit with Warrior talking to his gods was weird, but it's freaking Warrior so it worked for me. People also get pissy about Warrior pinning Savage with one foot, but in the context of a career vs. career match it's the ultimate "screw you" from the winner to the loser. Sherri Martel had one of the greatest performances that a manager has ever had, and I don't think she ever looked better than she did on this evening.
Warrior won the match, but that was just part of the story. Savage had broken up with Elizabeth a couple of years earlier, which saddened most of the WWF audience a great deal. Sherri beating Savage up after the match led to Elizabeth, who had been watching the match in the crowd, running down to the ring and disposing of the Sensational One. Savage was unsure of what happened & what to do at first, but he realized the error of his ways & reunited with Elizabeth. Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww. Warrior would leave a few months later, right around the time Savage married Elizabeth & was forced to return to the ring by Jake Roberts' evil deeds at the reception. So in the long run the career ending stipulation didn't mean much, but at the time it added a great deal to one of the greatest pro wrestling segments in history.