Reliving Wrestlemania: Wrestlemania VIII

WrestleMania VIII

Let’s update the story:

  • The Ultimate Warrior, after a match with Sgt. Slaughter, would feud with the Undertaker, leading Jake “The Snake” Roberts to try to teach the Warrior all about the darkness, through a series of “tests”, so that the Warrior could enter that same mindframe that the Undertaker had. It turns out that Roberts was tricking the Warrior the entire time. For his final test, he locked the Warrior in a room full of poisonous snakes to get to a chest which would contain the “answer” to finally beating the Undertaker. It turns out, Roberts put a live Cobra in the box which bit Warrior in the face, injuring him. The Warrior crawled out of the room and looked up at Roberts who saw The Undertaker with Paul Bearer at his side. Roberts told Warrior, “You should never trust a snake.” This was SUPPOSED to culminate in a match with the Undertaker but never did. In real life, Warrior was in a pay dispute with Vince McMahon, who fired him after the dispute was settled. The match between Warrior and Slaughter was, in effect, a “lynch pin” that pretty much set up three majore matches at Wrestlemania VIII.
  • Randy Savage and Miss Elizabeth had a kayfabe marriage at SummerSlam in 1991 (they were already married), during which time, both The Undertaker and the now-villainous Jake Roberts coordinated in attacking the happy couple during their wedding reception. Sid Justice had just entered the WWF at that point, as a face, and had chased to two off. Savage was an announcer at the time and still not wrestling due to the results of the match between him and the Warrior at Wrestlemania 7. He pushed to get reinstated so he could fight the two men and was eventually granted that opportunity. After facing off against Jake “The Snake” Roberts at the one-time event, “This Tuesday in Texas”, Roberts waited for Savage and Elizabeth backstage, intent on taking both out with a chair. He successfully got Savage and went for Elizabeth next…but was stopped by the Undertaker, which turned Roberts and the Undertaker against one another.
  • Hogan would keep the title until November where he would lose it to The Undertaker at Survivor Series. In real life, Hogan’s ego clashed with Ric Flair’s and Hogan did not want to job, cleanly, to anybody, least of all, Flair. The two would have a return match due to Flair interfering with the original match. The Undertaker would drop the title to Hogan in another controversial finish and Jack Tunney would vacate the title with the stipulation that the winner of the 1992 Royal Rumble would be the World Wrestling Federation Champion because, again, Hogan would not job to Flair in a straight match. Flair would win the Rumble and the title…until it was announced that, MAGICALLY AND CONVENIENTLY, Hogan was the “number one contender” for the title. Justice was angered by this decision, thinking that he was the “new lion” in the WWF and should get a shot at the title. Despite this, he would keep his word to work with Hogan at Saturday Night’s Main Event…until he ditched Hogan, mid-match. Hogan was beaten up by Flair and The Undertaker. The Main Event was, then, changed.
  • Because of this entire mess, Hogan would now face Sid Justice. Flair, who was now WITHOUT an opponent, would face Randy Savage who challenged him for the title. As a result of Roberts, later, attacking the Undertaker on Paul Bearer’s “Funeral Parlor” (following the events of “This Tuesday in Texas”), Roberts was to face The Undertaker.
In other WWF news:
  • Sgt. Slaughter would turn face and beg to get his country back. This was after he couldn’t regain the title. He would feud with a few people but mainly Colonel Mustafa. He would assemble a team of wrestlers: himself, Virgil, The Big Boss Man, and Hacksaw Jim Duggan to face off against The Nasty Boys, Repo Man (formerly “Smash” of Demolition), and The Mountie.
  • The Rockers would break up with Shawn Michaels superkicking his former partner, Marty Jannetty, through the window of Brutus Beefcake’s “Barbershop” promo segment. Michaels would go, on his own, to face Tito Santana who was now dubbed “El Matador” in an attempt to revamp his character.
  • Rowdy Roddy Piper would feud with Ric Flair, which lead to another feud with The Mountie. The Mountie had won the Intercontinental Title from Bret Hart, who beat Mr. Perfect for it at SummerSlam 1991. Piper would beat the Mountie at the Royal Rumble in ’92 for the Intercontinental Title and defend it against Hart again here.
  • The WWF Tag Titles would be on the line. Money, Inc. (Ted DiBiase & Irwin R. Schyster) would get them from the Legion of Doom and defend them against the new faces, “The Natural Disasters”, comprised of “Typhoon” (a whole chapter I’ll just skip because it’s Lou Albano/Hillbilly Jim-bad) and Earthquake.
  • Finally, in singles competition, we had Tatanka vs. Rick Martel and Bret Hart’s little brother, Owen Hart taking on “Skinner”, a backwoods alligator-hunting weirdo.
On with the show!
Vince tells us all about the main event competitors.
We are LIVE from the Hoosier Dome in Indianapolis, Indiana! To give you a good idea of how big this place is, it’s pretty much right on Pontiac Silverdome levels.
Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenan are our ring announcers for the evening.
Reba McEntire sang the National Anthem this year. She’s pretty hot there.
MATCH #1: Shawn Michaels (with Sensational Sherri) vs. “El Matador” Tito Santana
Tito…boy, you gotta give it to him. He really tried. As Vince McMahon was trying to expand to the WWF to other countries, Vince converted Tito into a wrestler with a bullfighter gimmick because he thought it would be good to grab Mexican viewers. He was even supposed to give Tito a run at the title but decided against it when McMahon aimed his sights NORTH of the border to Canada. Michaels hits the ring next to his new music, “Sexy Boy”…the original version was actually voiced, not by Michaels, but by Sherri who, was the time, his manager. The whole “sexy boy” gimmick would stick with Michaels for the duration of his career. The match was back and forth as both competitors were the same weight with an affinity for aerial moves and reversals. The age of Tito’s wrestling style does show after awhile. Tito keeps a headlock on Michaels for, what seems like, forever. After a bit of a battle, Tito would, eventually, hit the Flying Forearm but it would only push Michaels from the ring. Heenan calls it “The Flyin’ Jalapena”. Heh. He hits a great human slingshot at Michaels and a kneelift and an inverted Atomic Drop. He hits ANOTHER Forearm but it sends Michaels from the ring again. When Tito tries to drag Michaels back in, Michaels ends up falling on top of Tito and gets the pin 
WINNER: Shawn Michaels via pinfall
GRADE: C+. Poor Tito would go on to wrestle in and un-televised Wrestlemania 9 Dark Match (which he WON, fortheluvvachrist) but he wouldn’t be seen at Wrestlemania again. Tito holds the distinction of being the only wrestler in the WWF, besides Hulk Hogan, to star in the first nine Wrestlemania events. He would appear independently as well as a one-time shot in WCW. He would be inducted into the 2004 WWE Hall of Fame. He wrote a book about his time in wrestling and also teaches.
Mean Gene interviews Paul Ellering and The Legion of Doom. Honestly, this was a terrible, terrible idea. The LOD didn’t NEED a manager. They were great by themselves. (They didn’t need the dummy Rocco either.)
MATCH #2: Jake “The Snake” Roberts vs. The Undertaker (w/ Paul Bearer)
Jake Roberts appeared to bite off more than he could chew. He would hit The Undertaker and the Undertaker would look just as strong as he was before he would get hit. The thing I don’t buy: Jake Roberts hitting TWO DDT’s and not covering The Undertaker at all. Honestly, all Jake had to do was cover The Undertaker once and have the Undertaker kick out of it. Was it arrogance on the part of Roberts? I don’t get it. Eventually, the Undertaker hits the Tombstone on Roberts and gets the win. It’s really hard to believe that the Undertaker had already been a WWF Champion at this point. It was, literally, “blink-and-miss-it”.
WINNER: The Undertaker via Tombstone
GRADE: D+ match. B+ for storyline and satisfaction. Roberts was beyond hated at this point. Jake Roberts would leave the WWF for a time, wrestle in WCW and return to the WWF for a short time in 1996 with a Born-Again Christian gimmick.

Backstage, Mean Gene has Roddy Piper and Bret Hart TOGETHER backstage. Piper goes on his trademark humorous rants (“OMG! I LOVES THIS GUYKNOWNSTHISGUYSINCEHEWAS TINY!!! LOVE HIS FAMILY!!! HIS MOMMY TIED HIS SHOES FOR HIMBLAHBLAHBLAH…”) and the two men NEARLY come to blows.
MATCH #3: Bret “The Hitman” Hart (challenger) vs. “Rowdy” Roddy Piper (champion) for the WWF Intercontinental Championship
Both men are loved. That’s for damn sure. At the time, I could see why Roddy would cough up the belt but I just wasn’t agreeing with it. I liked him too much. Bret was up-and-coming and a better performer. This was, actually, one of my favorite Wrestlemania matches. Hitman is just so talented and Piper is just freakin’ random and a great wrestler. Heenan: “Are they sayin’ anything? Nah, they’re just lookin’ at each other. Two UGLY people…lookin’ at each other…THAT’S fun…” Heh. Heenan’s commentary here is brilliantly funny. Someday, I need to make a compilation video of his greatest comments. The match is a street fight of sorts. Piper dishes it out so well but Hart is an iron man and takes it. It was sad to see one of them lose. A great moment comes when Hart fakes an arm injury and the referee calls for a medic…with the ref’s back turned, Hart IMMEDIATELY gets up and hits a small package pin. This is one RIGHT out of Piper’s book. Immediately, Hart tries a cross-body block but Piper holds onto Hart and both men hit the floor with Hart getting the worst of it. It’s just an awesome battle. Piper, at one point, apologizes for his remarks and spitting on Hart then has the ref check Hart’s tights but Piper just belts Hart while this is happening. I love it. Piper hits a huge bulldog and Hart blades at this point. Flair does the same thing later on and actually got fined for it. Hart hits a great sunset flip but Piper counters and belts Hart with shots to the face. The whole match is like this. The end comes when Piper, showing signs of his heel days, gets the ring bell to whack Hart…but has a change of heart and won’t do it. Piper ditches the bell, Hart tries to deck Piper, misses, Piper hits the Sleeper but Hart kicks off the turnbuckle and hits a neat flip-pin on Hart to get the win and the title. What a match!
WINNER: Bret Hart via pinfall
GRADE: A+ all the way. Unexpectedly good.
Post-match, Piper gives the belt to Hart, helps him up and celebrates with him.
Heenan introduces Lex Luger, live via satellite. He talks about the WBF which was another failed Vince Venture where he tried mixing the wrestling world with bodybuilding. Heenan asks for a look at Luger’s steroid-induced arms and chest.
MATCH #4: The Big Boss Man, Sgt. Slaughter, Virgil, and Hacksaw Jim Duggan vs. The Nasty Boys (Knobbs & Sags), The Mountie, and Repo Man
It was the idiot undercard vs. the idiot undercard loser Frappucino. Ray Combs, then-host of Family Feud, introduced the teams. Virgil, at 1991’s SummerSlam, had won the Million Dollar Title but, with the help of Repo Man, DiBiase got it back. The Big Boss Man and The Mountie were law guys. I guess that was another fued…I have zero idea why Sgt. Slaughter and Duggan were in this match. Ray Combs’s intros were incredibly boring. The match was complete shit. There’s just no way to have a great match with this  many minor players. After a bunch of in-and-out tags, all hell breaks loose. Knobbs holds Virgil up to get clocked but Sags accidentally belts his own guy. Virgil with the pin. Meh.
WINNERS: The Faces via botched cheat
GRADE: D-. Here’s the aftermath:
    • Virgil would leave the WWF in 1994 after one final shot at WWF gold. He would lose to Bret Hart in a WWF Title defense. He had been used to put over other stars. He had a long stint in WCW after that until his semi-retirement in 2000. He would come back to the WWE in 2010 with a small guest shot as “Virgil” where he helped the Million Dollar Man.

    • Duggan would leave in 1993 after a flagging control as a singles competitor. He would have a long run in the WCW after that before vanishing in 1998 due to Kidney Cancer. He would make a short comeback years in WCW, some independent leagues and TNA until 2005, when he would make a return to the WWE for the next four years. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2011.

    • The Nasty Boys would leave in 1993 and went back to WCW. They would go on to wrestle independently and also make one final appearance in the WWE. They would debut in 2010 for TNA but were fired for an incident involving some Spike TV execs.

    • Repo Man would see more action against the likes of the British Bulldog, his former tag partner, Crush, and Randy Savage before leaving the WWF in 1993. He would wrestle in WCW as well as independently and would make one final appearance at Wrestlemania 17 in the Gimmick Battle Royal.

  • The Mountie would leave the WWF a few months after this and come back with a new tag team a couple of years later.
Post-match, the winning team celebrates.
Backstage, Mr. Perfect and Ric Flair talk about some “photo” of Miss Elizabeth that they’re gonna show at the Hoosier Dome. Nothing ever got shown. I don’t know what happened to that angle.
Mean Gene tries to interview Macho Man Randy Savage about his upcoming match but the door is closed and locked.
MATCH #5: “Macho Man” Randy Savage (challenger) (w/ Miss Elizabeth) vs. Ric Flair (champion) (w/ Mr. Perfect) for the WWF Championship
The timing of the match bothered me. I was upset when this came halfway through Wrestlemania instead of Hulk Hogan’s boneheaded, pointless non-title match against Sid Justice. At the time, McMahon was, apparently, afraid to headline the event with Savage and Flair and opted to stay with Hogan as his meal ticket. God knows why. Hogan was aging and showed signs of wanting to get the hell away from the WWF. This is one of my favorite matches. It’s hardcore and intense. Savage and Flair are, generally, the same person. Such skill, both dirty, both with huge tempers. It’s great watching the two men fight. Flair, prior to the fight, claimed that Elizabeth had been with him, romantically, before she was with Savage, which made things personal between the two men. Flair really takes his time with Savage who almost looks injured throughout the match. Heenan is near breathless and exasperated throughout the match as he’s one of Flair’s “advisors”. At one point, Flair hits a thumb to the eye and goes to the top rope until Savage recovers and tosses Flair from the top rope onto the mat. He hits a HUGE backdrop on Flair and a series of clotheslines. Flair does his trademark flip-to-outside-run-to-top-rope-and-get-hit-on-way-down. This almost ends up in a three-count. Great series of moves. Savage just starts beating Flair without mercy on the outside and hits a MEAN suplex. There was a point where Savage could have hit the pin and, instead, just decided to hit Flair in the face. After getting another near-fall, Savage goes to the top rope for his big elbow drop and hits it! Savage would have gotten the pin if Perfect hadn’t pulled Savage off of him. Perfect slips Savage brass knuckles during the ensuing skirmish and hits the pin and ONLY gets TWO. Flair is cut WIDE open at this point and angrily bashes Savage in the head. Perfect belts Savage in the knee with a steel chair. This is when Elizabeth heads to the ring. Flair goes for the Figure Four but Savage gets away. Flair hits a HUGE inverted atomic drop that crushes Savage’s knee. Then he locks in the Figure Four while WWF officials try, unsuccessfully, to put Elizabeth backstage while Perfect helps Flair with added leverage. Savage won’t give up and ends up turning the F4 over. Flair goes after the knee again but Savage hits a small package! Two-count! Flair hits another knee drop, then holds Savage’s foot. The end comes when Flair tries to hit Savage but Savage COUNTERS WITH A ROLL-UP AND GETS A PIN!!!
WINNER: Randy Savage via Roll-Up
GRADE: A+. Two great championship matches in a row. It’s really too bad this wasn’t the main event but some orange roid monster had to have the spotlight again.
Post-match, Flair goes after Elizabeth and tries to kiss her. Liz SLAPS Flair and Savage is all over Flair like white on rice. Great match. THAT is a main event. Not this Hogan/Justice bullshit.

Here’s the aftermath:

    • Ric Flair’s first year with the WWF was turbulent. He would gain the WWF Championship back but drop it to the one and only Bret Hart days later. Later in the year, Savage enlisted the help of Mr. Perfect to take on Ric Flair and Razor Ramon at Survivor Series. The two would end up beating Flair and Ramon. In 1993, Mr. Perfect and Ric Flair would be at odds and face one another in a loser-leaves-the-WWF match. Mr. Perfect would win it in one of the greatest WWF matches ever wrestled. Flair would go back to the WCW for eight more years and return to the WWF in 2001.

  • Elizabeth would leave the WWF following her real-life divorce from Randy Savage. Instead of going to WCW outright, Elizabeth decided to stay away from the wrestling scene and work for ESPN as a commentator for Speedboat racing events. She would finally join WCW in 1996 and leave in 2000. She was involved in a segment on WCW Monday Nitro where she no-sold a Hulk Hogan atomic drop…specifically because she has no panties on underneath her skirt. Oops. She did remarry, briefly, in 1997 to a Florida attorney but broke it off and divorced a couple of years later. Elizabeth and Lex Luger remained friends after dismissal from WCW and were, according to friends, slated to be married some time in 2003…however, things went south. After a wrestling all-star world tour with Sting, Luger was charged with a misdemeanor count of battery. According to the police report, Luger kicked the holy shit out of Elizabeth, cutting her lip, blacking both her eyes and leaving a nice big bump on her head. Two years later, Luger was caught drinking and driving with Elizabeth, and was given a DUI, illegal possession of a firearm and would, later on, get in trouble for not appearing in court on a prior charge of driving without tags or proof of insurance. A full month later, a 911 call came in from Lex Luger to Georgia authorities – he reported that Elizabeth was not breathing. Paramedics would apply CPR while driving her to the hospital where she was pronounced dead. Her toxicology reports showed that she had mixed after mixing pills of hydrocodone, Alprazolam (Xanax), and anabolic steroids (testosterone and saizen) with vodka. Luger would not be pinned to her death but DID get in serious legal trouble for possession of several illicit controlled substances. Elizabeth’s death was ruled “accidental”. She was only 42 years old.
In the locker room, Sean Mooney interviews Heenan, Perfect, and a dinged-up Flair. They claim that Savage cheated. And he did. It amuses me because Perfect cheated throughout the match and got involved more than once.
Savage says he DID cheat and he doesn’t care. He says that Flair wasn’t beat up properly. He wants even MORE of Flair. I love it.

Even the interviews are gold.

Clips of the lead-up between Hogan and Sid Justice.
Martel is interviewed backstage because, you know, Hogan and Justice aren’t up for another three matches and we had to plug them first.
MATCH #6: Tatanka vs. “The Model” Rick Martel
Tatanka was one of my favorite wrestlers. His intro is impressive with an Indian tribe doing an dance inside the ring. It’s beautifully performed. I like Martel but I was shocked that nobody could beat him. He’s a great ring technician but I was kinda shocked that he wasn’t jobbing as much as he should have. Tatanka comes out next. He was one of the cooler wrestlers. During the match, his Indian tribe dance their way to the backstage area. Reminds me of Brave Sir Robin and his minstrels in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The match is quick and nicely wrestled. Meanwhile, Heenan is losing his composure and actually challenges Monsoon to a fist fight which Monsoon scoffs at. Martel looks slow in this match. The first time I’ve ever seen him not so confident in the ring. He does a nice move after a failed hip toss where he just tosses Tatanka on his back instead of throwing him forward. After this, Martel takes over the match and hits a series of moves. He goes up to the top but Tatanka shakes him down. Tatanka is not overly experienced in the ways of wrestling and, honestly, Martel SHOULD have been booked to win this match but Tatanka was new so I guess he was just being used to put Tatanka over. The end comes when Martel tosses Tatanka into the ropes but Tatanka hits a crossbody block and a clean pin. Heenan is as confused as I am: “He got a THREE-COUNT?! ON MARTEL?!”
WINNER: Tatanka via Cross Body
GRADE: F. Martel jobbing to Tatanka is like Ric Flair jobbing to Santino Marella. Martel would leave the WWF a few years later in 1995 over a pay dispute (surprise, surprise) with Vince McMahon. He would go to WCW in 1997 and retire one year later to become a trainer for that organization.
Backstage, Sean Mooney is with Jimmy Hart and Money, Inc. DiBiase says that you don’t tug Superman’s cape and you don’t write checks you can’t cover.
Mean Gene is with Earthquake and Typhoon. They want revenge. RAWRRRR. That’s pretty much the gist.
MATCH #7: Money, Inc. (“Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase & Irwin R. Schyster) (champions) (w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. The Natural Disasters (Earthquake & Typhoon) (challengers) for the WWF Tag Team Championship
Decent match. It was skill and technical wrestling vs. pure power and strength. I.R.S. and DiBiase were just plain hated. With a name like I.R.S., how could you NOT be hated? It’s apparent that nobody in the audience seems to care much about this match. The Disasters, as powerful as they are, are really big and goofy. DiBiase and IRS really rely on trick techniques, trips and dodges to get out of the way of big attacks as well as using smart double-team techniques. Typhoon and DiBiase get a mean double clothesline before Typhoon tags Earthquake. Earthquake destroys both men. The end comes when DiBiase is clotheslined out of the ring. Typhoon hits the Typhoon Splash. Earthquake goes for the Quake Splash but Hart pulls IRS from the ring. Money, Inc. take the Tag Titles and say “Fuck this, we’re out.” The Disasters win by countout. I really cannot see why this was the final booking decision. Pointless ending.
WINNERS: Disasters via countout
GRADE: D-. Started well enough. Ended terribly. LOD was supposed to win the titles here but, apparently, Hawk was drug addled.
  • Following this match, The Natural Disasters would grab the titles the same summer but would drop them back to Money, Inc. three months later. The Natural Disasters would break up when Earthquake would take a leave of absence after their loss before making another return and Typhoon would leave in 1993 and go to WCW before returning to the WWF in 1994 as a jobber. Typhoon would wrestle, independently, after this and retire in 2001. 
Mean Gene is backstage with Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake.
MATCH #8: Owen Hart vs. Skinner
Short little warm-up match with Skinner taking on Owen Hart who wore these awful parachute pants in some attempt to differentiate him from his brother. Not terribly exciting. Skinner does hit the Gator Breaker and only gets the two-count. He tries to toss Hart from the ring but Hart gets back in and rolls up Skinner for a quick pin. Meh.
WINNER: Owen Hart via roll-up.
GRADE: F. Boy, this show took a dive after Savage & Flair.
  • Steve Keirn played “Skinner” and “Doink the Clown” and would return as the latter at next year’s Wrestlemania as “Doink’s clone”. After this, Keirn would go to WCW and retire in 1994.
Backstage, Mean Gene interviews Sid Justice and Harvey Whippleman.
Then we see a really lame pseudo-shoot interview where Hogan says this may be his “last match”.
Sid says that Sid is the man who will end Hulkamania.
MATCH #9: Sid Justice (w/ Harvey Whippleman) vs. Hulk Hogan
Whippleman introduces Sid Justice as “The Greatest Man in the WWF”. Riiiiight. Here comes Hulk Hogan. Yaaaay. Sid attacks Hogan right away but, of course, his music continues to play and Hogan no-sells the entire time because, you know, he has to tear his shirt off and look cool with his goofy crappy music. Get ready for a yawn-fest. This goes on for 12 minutes, according to Wikipedia. Really? Why? Who gives a shit? How can anyone stomach this crap? I mean, fuck, Sid actually wants a “test of strength”. What is this, the mid-80’s? Sid, of course, carries Hogan the entire match. It eventually ends (idiotically) with Hogan hulking up, hitting the boot and the legdrop which Sid kicks out of for some reason because Papa Shango was supposed to hit the ring to interfere (Sid didn’t want to lose clean) but he missed his cue. Whippleman had to interfere, causing the match to end in a DQ for Hogan.
    • Sid would leave the WWF after this and return a few years later as “Sycho Sid”. 

  • Papa Shango would attempt a feud with both the Ultimate Warrior and Randy Savage but it would go nowhere. He would leave the WWF a year later in 1993 and return 1994 as “Kama”.
  • The Ultimate Warrior would leave for a bit, too, and return a few years later.
Post-match, Hogan is being kicked around when, suddenly, The Ultimate Warrior’s music hits. He’s back and he’s pissed and helps Hogan clear the ring. What a mess.
This was a decent ‘Mania with the exception of the horribly-booked main event between Hogan and Justice and the eight-man tag and the pointless matches with Tatanka, Martel, Owen Hart and Skinner.
GRADE: B-. Man, they DID trim the fat out of this one but for every good match, there was some real bad shit here.

Until next time!
— Matt

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