Welcome back! Wrestlemania 8 had come and gone…Wrestlemania IX (9) would take place in Las Vegas at the great Caesar’s Palace and, for the first time, it would take place outdoors!
At the turnstiles, fans were handed togas to wear…I really cannot recall if they all wore them or not but more than a few did.
Here’s the main storylines:
- When last we left, Hogan was SUPPOSED to have been gone from the WWF. Nope. Hogan, after a leave of absence due to steroid controversy, came back in February 1993 to hog the spotlight from his “friend”, Brutus Beefcake. Beefcake was in a feud with Money, Inc., the Tag Team Champs. After Beefcake was attacked, viciously, by Money, Inc. after a match (where they struck him in his reconstructed face with a briefcase), Jimmy Hart was mortified and could not believe how low his team had sunk. He would ditch Money Inc., become a face for the first time in his career and immediately began managing Hogan and Beefcake, dubbed “The Mega Maniacs”. The two would face Money Inc. for the WWF Tag Team Championship.
- Randy Savage, meanwhile, had dropped the title to Ric Flair. Flair, in turn, dropped it to Bret Hart, then left the WWF after being beaten by Mr. Perfect who was now a face. Enter Yokozuna, the new “monster heel” in the same vein as Earthquake. Yokozuna would win the 1993 Royal Rumble and become the number one contender for Hart’s WWF Championship.
- A small aside: nothing came of the Ultimate Warrior except that him and Savage had a short tag team thing going and had one whole match as SummerSlam 1992, which the Warrior would win via countout. Warrior would also feud with Papa Shango who would put voodoo curses on the Warrior to make him vomit or sweat goo and some such nonsense. The Warrior, himself, in shoot interviews said those were ridiculous storylines. In late ’92, Savage and Warrior were scheduled to wrestle against Razor Ramon (Scott Hall) and Ric Flair. Warrior, however, would leave the WWF instead. There are conflicting reasons for this: according to Vince McMahon, Warrior failed another drug test and was immediately released. According to Warrior, he left because McMahon was going to involve him in an idiotic storyline with Nailz, a wrestler with a prison convict gimmick who had, previously, feuded with the Big Boss Man. In any case, Warrior wouldn’t be seen again until 1996.
- Savage would go back to being a color commentator after his WWF Champ stint and teaming with the Warrior. He helps here with Bobby Heenan and Jim Ross who came over from WCW. Gorilla Monsoon, at this point, stepped aside after calling eight straight Wrestlemania events.
- Bret Hart would drop the Intercontinental Title to the British Bulldog who, in turn, would lose it to Shawn Michaels. At this Wrestlemania, Michaels would defend the IC belt against Tatanka who, previously, had beaten Michaels in a non-title singles match to keep up his “undefeated streak”. His manager, Sensational Sherri, had gone face between Wrestlemania 8 and 9. This change-of-heart occurred when Marty Jannetty returned early in the year to face Shawn Michaels in a revenge fight. When Jannetty grabbed Michaels’ mirror and swung it at Jannetty, Michaels pulled Sherri in front of him as a human shield and the mirror hit her instead, knocking her out. Sherri would be in Tatanka’s corner.
- Wrestlemania saw an influx of WCW talent including The Steiner Brothers, The Headshrinkers, Giant Gonzales, Scott Hall (named “Razor Ramon” here) and Lex Luger.
- The Steiners and Headshrinkers would go head-to-head just for plain tag action.
- Mr. Perfect, who had eliminated former friend and Heenan protege, Ric Flair, was now in a revenge-feud with Lex Luger and would face off against him at Wrestlemania.
- Bob Backlund, and old star and WWF veteran, made a HUGE comeback to the WWF and took on Razor Ramon in singles competition.
- Giant Gonzales came to the WWF and eliminated The Undertaker who was unstoppable in the Royal Rumble. This would be a result of that battle.
- Finally, Crush had left Demolition and turned face. He had a bone to pick with a prankster clown-turned-wrestler, “Doink the Clown”.
WINNER: Tatanka via countout.
GRADE: B+. Tatanka’s best match. Not saying much, but it was. He wouldn’t be in a Wrestlemania match again but did cameo in the next two.
WINNERS: The Steiners via Frankensteiner
GRADE: D-. The Steiners just didn’t fit in the WWE.
- The Steiners would be two-time WWF Tag Team Champions, having won them twice one month. but would lose the titles for good in Fall of ’93 against the Quebecers. They would appear in a few PPV events after that but would both leave the WWF in mid-1994 and never return. They would make several more appearances in WCW, ECW and TNA up until 1998 with Scott Steiner becoming the more popular of the two.
- The Headshrinkers would wrestle, mid-card, for the WWF until early 1995. At this point, Samu had already left the WWF due to injury. The Headshrinkers would become jobbers to put over younger talent. Samu would return in 1995 in an angle that went nowhere. He would leave and the Headshrinkers would wrestle, independently, for the rest of their careers.
|Why so SERIOUS???|
WINNER: Doink via screwjob.
GRADE: C-. Crap match. Crush sucks. Doink is badass even still. I love the finish. It kicks ass.
- The other Doink, as I noted last report, was played by Steve Keirn AKA “Skinner”, the gator dude. After this match, Osborne was fired for drug abuse but Doink was so popular, the WWF simply chose another performer to play him.
WINNER: Razor Ramon via small package
GRADE: F. Terrible. Just terrible.
WINNERS AND STILL CHAMPIONS: Money, Inc. via DQ.
GRADE: D+. The “fun” I mentioned vanishes when you consider that Hogan’s fingerprints are all over this bullshit.
Post-match, DiBiase and IRS hit the heroes with title belts to the head which Brutus and Hogan completely no-sell because and the heels flee while Hogan and Beefcake celebrate their pseudo-win where they’re really champions and better than everyone.
Savage: “Against ALL ODDS!!!”
- Brutus Beefcake, after this…just dropped out of the WWF and went to WCW where he appeared as “Bruti” next to Hulk Hogan who had ALSO gone to WCW. He would wrestle there until June of 1999 before going into semi-retirement where he wrestled independently. He, supposedly, wrote a scathing book about his own career where he claimed that he and Hogan had a homosexual relationship. He was also involved in an Anthrax scare at a Boston MBTA Station. It turned out that the white powder he was carrying was Cocaine. He plea-dealed his way out of trouble, however, by going into a rehab program.
- Jimmy Hart would also move to WCW before going independent. He would return to the WWE in 2011 as a background figure. Hart is an accomplish songwriter, having been in a 60’s band called “The Gentry’s” and also wrote several of the theme songs for the wrestlers of the WWF/WWE/WCW. Currently, he works behind-the-scenes for the WWE as part of the Wrestlemania creative team and has worked as an on-air personality for the company on occasion. He managed over 50 different wrestlers in his career as a manager.
WINNER: Lex Luger via cheat pin.
GRADE: D-. This could have been epic if Luger didn’t suck and Perfect wasn’t acting careless.
Post-match, Luger just knocks out Perfect with his forearm and then puts his boot on his chest and poses like a gladiator. Perfect, angered, goes to the backstage area and finds Luger talking to Shawn Michaels. Perfect just starts pounding on Luger in a backstage brawl but Michaels helps Luger and beats the living crap out of Perfect as officials pull Michaels off of Perfect.
Meanwhile, back at the announcer’s table, Brain keeps talking up Luger and Savage replies that it wasn’t fair that Michaels jumped Perfect. Brain starts to shout that Perfect was the one who jumped Luger. Savage gets up out of his seat and challenges Brain to a fight. The two yell at each other and Ross holds them apart.
We get our next match:
MATCH #7: The Undertaker (w/ Paul Bearer) vs. Giant Gonzales (w/ Harvey Whippleman)
Usually, an Undertaker match is something to look forward to. Usually. When you fuck up an Undertaker match and make it this fucking boring, slow, and everything BUT good, you KNOW you have a lousy Wrestlemania. One of my favorite parts is the beginning of this match when The Undertaker turns and goes nose-to-nose with GG. He just looks straight up at The Undertaker who is 8 feet tall. GG chokes Undertaker and backs him in the corner. Undertaker just climbs the turnbuckle and chokes right back. The problem here is that Gonzales just isn’t very good. Vince, occasionally, just hires huge dudes and they’re hit and miss. Gonzales is like a huge freakin’ ape who chokes and punches. That’s it. He spends the match tossing the Undertaker around like a doll which is strange to see. The Undertaker RARELY mounts an offense. The end FINALLY comes when Gonzales uses “chloroform” (kayfabe) to knock out the Undertaker. Gonzales is DQ’ed.
WINNER: The Undertaker via DQ.
GRADE: F. This was ‘Taker’s worst match.
Post match, paramedics wheel ‘Taker to the backstage area while Gonzales celebrates and chokes out a ref or two. The Undertaker, pissed as hell, comes marching right back out to the ring. Bearer tries to stop him at one point and Undertaker just swats him away like a fly as if to say, “Fuck you, dude, his ass is mine.” He knocks Gonzales out of the ring and two face off. This moment received the LOUDEST pop of the match. So WHY couldn’t you do that DURING the match then?! I don’t know what’s more pathetic: the fact that this boring storyline couldn’t have been resolved at Wrestlemania or the fact that it dragged on for several more weeks until it was finally resolved at SummerSlam the same year.
- After ‘Taker and Gonzo resolved things a few months later, the stage was set for Gonzales (now a face) to take on Adam Bomb. It never happened, however, and Gonzales left in October. He would wrestle in Japan from 1994 to 1995 and then retire. He was diagnosed with Kidney Failure and spent much of the rest of his life in a wheelchair. On September 22nd, 2010, Gonzales passed away of complications from diabetes. He was only 44 years old.
WINNER AND NEW CHAMPION: Yokozuna via screwjob.
GRADE: D+. Blech. But not as bad as what was to come…
WINNER: Hulk Hogan via Atomic Legdrop
GRADE: DAVID ARQUETTE-SIZED F. Just wow.
- Hogan would leave the WWF much to the joy of THOUSANDS of people who had gotten tired of him. He would go to WCW where, much to his credit, he would reinvent his character and TURN HEEL and start one of the most notorious wrestling factions ever: the nWo. The problem with Hogan in the WCW, however, was the same as it ever was: he was almost CONSTANTLY Champion no matter what (he was champion a MONTH after starting with the company) and he would book matches where, if he lost, it was almost ALWAYS by way of some cheap ending or submission where he never really gave up, the ref always called the match. And when he lost, he’d always gain it back quickly. Hogan was champion three times in four fucking years with WCW. When the dream-match between Hogan and Sting took place at Starrcade in late December, the match was booked terribly with Sting hardly mounting any offense whatsoever and Hogan eventually “winning” after a terrible fuck-up a finish: Bret Hart came in at the last minute and told the ref that he had “fast-counted” the pin and that the match would restart with Hart as the referee. Hogan lost via submission…then Sting would retain the title the very next night but the title would go VACANT, all because Hogan refused to job cleanly. Sting would eventually win the title and then drop it. And, of course, it would go right back to Hogan. By 1999, Hogan had won the title SIX TIMES IN FIVE YEARS. That’s utterly ridiculous. Before he LEFT WCW, Hogan won it AGAIN. So, in all the time he was with that group, Hogan had one the title once every year. Personally, I credit Hogan with the downfall of WCW. He was a cancer who pretty much took over booking and wouldn’t let younger wrestlers fly. After ruining WCW, Hogan would return to the WWE in 2002.
GRADE: F. This is, without a doubt, the worst Wrestlemania in history. Every match is boring with the exception of the first one. The ending is beyond awful and smacks of complete egotism.