November 23, 2008
Wrestlemania IX, April 4, 1993, Caesar’s Palace, Las Vegas, NV
Announcers: Jim Ross, Bobby “The Brain” Heenan & “Macho Man” Randy Savage
This would be from the “Let’s get it over with” section of my road to review every Wrestlemania in time for next year’s show. If you’ve read my opinions on Bret Hart and Hulk Hogan that I’ve posted in the past you can probably already guess what my feelings on this show are, and I’m making no guarantees that I won’t let my emotions get the better of me here. Besides that we have a notable debut even before the opening bell as Good Ol’ JR, Jim Ross jumps ship from WCW to become the lead WWF play by play man. He would spend a few years drifting in and out of employment before becoming a permanent fixture, but today’s generation of fans recognizes him as the main voice of the WWE. Also, they’ve taken the Caesar’s Palace location to a whole new level and adopted an Ancient Roman theme for the show. All the announcers, and many of the fans, are dressed in togas and the set and graphics are designed with that theme in mind. I haven’t seen this show in many years, but I know not to expect very much, so let’s get on with it.
Opening Match, Intercontinental Championship Match: Shawn Michaels (w/Luna Vachon) vs. Tatanka (w/Sensational Sherri)
Tatanka was on an extended undefeated streak coming in here and pinned Shawn in both a non-title match and a tag match on the TV shows leading up to this title shot. They established a shoulder injury on Shawn in that tag match, and it will come into play here. Luna Vachon is making her WWF debut although if the idea was to put her with Shawn on a regular basis, that was dropped very quickly. I would guess that the intention all along was just to use this match to develop a feud between her and Sherri rather than any association with Shawn. Shawn really takes his time getting all his stuff off so we can get started. He starts with a single leg takedown, but Tatanka kicks him away. He then gets a second one with the same result and backs off. They go to a series of holds and counters. Shawn takes him down with a side headlock for 2. He tries it again, but gets caught with a back suplex. Corner whip sees Shawn avoid the charge and go up, but he gets armdragged on the way down. Tatanka follows up with another armdrag, a dropkick, and a corner whip to send Shawn flipping to the apron. He then knocks Shawn to the floor where Sherri prevents Luna from getting involved in anything. Tatanka keeps chopping Shawn back to the floor, so Shawn finally uses a thumb to the eye. He then goes up and comes off with a poorly executed sunset flip, but he gets 2 from it anyways. Off the ropes, Shawn gets caught in a leapfrog and Tatanka hits an inverted atomic drop. Off the ropes again, Shawn puts the head down and takes a DDT. Now Tatanka goes to work on that injured shoulder by dropping a leg on it and going to an armbar. Shawn gets to the ropes and uses a cheapshot on the break. He sends Tatanka to the corner, but misses a charge and goes shoulder first to the post. Shawn escapes another armbar, but ends up getting sent to the corner and hit with a shoulderbreaker. Tatanka drops an elbow and then nails a chop off the top rope. Second try sees Shawn catch him with a crescent kick (not yet his finisher) on the way down. He tosses Tatanka to buy himself some recovery time and again Sherri gets between Luna and any havoc she might cause. Shawn then follows him out and rams him to the apron and then nails a flying clothesline from the apron. Back in a neckbreaker gets 2 as does a dropkick, and then he goes to a rear chinlock. Tatanka gets out but Shawn punches him and tries a victory roll, and although it goes over in really sloppy fashion, he still gets 2 from it. He then tries another victory roll, but Tatanka falls back with an electric chair drop leading me to believe that’s what was supposed to happen on the first try. Tatanka gets 2.5 from it, but misses a follow up elbow. Shawn drops a double ax from the 2nd rope, but that just serves to fire Tatanka up. Two more have no effect and Tatanka then catches an attempted crescent kick and hits some chops. Crossbody off the top gets another 2.5. Shawn reverses a corner whip, but when he tries a dropkick he’s caught and slingshotted to the post for another near fall. Tatanka sets up the Papoose to Go, but Shawn slips off and gets a rollup for 2. Shawn goes up, but jumps right into a powerslam for 2.5. He then pulls Tatanka to the floor by the tights, but misses a bodypress from the apron and hits the stairs. Tatanka gets in, but Shawn pulls the ref out to the floor before getting back in himself. He sends Tatanka off the ropes, but Tatanka ducks and successfully hits the Papoose to Go this time, but the ref calls for the bell at 18:17. Apparently Shawn was counted out somewhere in there thus giving the win to Tatanka, but letting Shawn hold on to the title. If they had cut out the boring first six or seven minutes and put a real finish on there they may have had something good, but this was way, way too long for that crap ending. Still a pretty hot series of nearfalls near the end helps salvage something. ** Luna attacks Sherri on the floor after the match, officially kicking off their feud and leaving Tatanka to make the save.
The Headshrinkers (w/Afa) vs. The Steiner Brothers
Second match in and JR debuts the term “slobberknocker” in the WWF. No real setup for this one, it’s just intended to be a good solid win for (spoiler alert) the Steiners as part of their buildup. Fatu and Scott start out with Scott getting an armdrag. Fatu shoves him, so Scott tackles him for 1 and goes to an armbar. Fatu headbutts out, but his hiptoss is reversed. Slugfest breaks out, won by Scott who then nails a clothesline so Fatu can do his flip selljob. Fatu goes to the eyes and they get Scott in their corner. Rick is in, but Samu takes him out. They toss Scott and celebrate, but the Steiners come back in with a double clothesline off the top. Headshrinkers bail and when they come back both teams make the tag. Samu gets some chops in the corner on Rick, followed by a corner clothesline. He whips Rick to the buckle, but Rick comes out with a clothesline of his own. He then rams Samu to the post and tags Scott. Scott is in with a butterfly powerbomb and a dropkick. His Irish whip is reversed and when he comes off he gets caught in an attempted stungun, but he actually flies right over the top to the floor. That looked kinda scary, but he appears to be alright. Afa smacks him with a kendo stick and Fatu adds a slam on the floor. Back in, Samu rams Scott to Fatu’s head and makes the tag. Backbreaker and 2nd rope headbutt get 2 with Rick saving, but that allows an illegal switch and double headbutt by the Shrinkers. Spin kick by Samu, followed by a corner whip, but Scott gets the boot up on the charge. Quick tag to Fatu who cuts Scott off from making his tag. He knees Scott to the floor and distracts the ref, which allows Samu to send him to the post. Back in Fatu puts the head down on an Irish whip, but when Scott rams him to the mat, he jumps right back up and hits a crescent kick. Tag to Samu who briefly uses a rear chinlock and the drops an elbow. Next is a dropkick and he then rams Scott to Fatu’s head again. Tag to Fatu leads to a modified Demolition Decapitation by using a forearm instead of an elbow. Fatu then drops a headbutt for 2 and goes to a nerve hold. Scott fights up and comes off the ropes, but they clothesline each other. Tag to Samu, who hammers away on Scott. He gets a slam and goes up, but misses a splash. Samu makes the tag, but Scott also makes the hot tag to Rick. He dominates both Shrinkers for a bit, but makes the mistake of trying a double noggin knocker and ends up taking a double headbutt. They hit their double reverse Russian legsweep and then Fatu picks him up for a possible Doomsday Device, but Rick catches Samu coming off and hits a powerslam from a position of sitting on Fatu’s shoulders. I don’t think it was quite as cool as my description makes it sound, but pretty cool none the less. That gets 2, but Fatu saves and tosses Rick, who makes the tag to Scott on his way through the ropes. Scott gets clotheslined immediately, but reverses an Irish whip and hooks Fatu in a belly to belly suplex. Samu gets Scott with a crescent kick and tries an Irish whip, which is also reversed allowing Scott to catch him with the Frankensteiner for 3 at 14:24. Good little tag match, which I’ll give **1/2. We’re off to a pretty good start, but be forewarned that it’s pretty much all downhill from here.
Crush vs. Doink The Clown
The Doink character played by Matt Borne as a heel was one of the best and most underrated bad guys they ever had. It’s a real shame they turned it into a kids sideshow gimmick so fast. Doink had jumped Crush with a fake prosthetic arm on Superstars, which put him out for a few weeks with a concussion, so Crush is here to exact some revenge. Doink squirts him with his flower to start so Crush chases and catches him. He gets a slam on the floor and sends Doink to the post. Back in, Doink begs off, but Crush is having none of it and just keeps beating on him and no selling the weak shots Doink is able to pull off. Backbreaker sends Doink to the apron, where he’s able to snap Crush’s neck down on the ropes to finally take control. He drops a few shots from the 2nd rope and uses a piledriver to take Crush down. Crush goes to the floor, but Doink rams him to the post. Back in, Doink gets a slam and goes up, but jumps right into a boot. He still controls and rams Crush to the buckle, but goes up again and gets caught with a powerslam. Doink gets clotheslined to the floor, and tries to hide under the ring, but Crush pulls him back out. In the ring, Crush gets a press slam and hooks the Kona Kompactor. Doink makes the ropes and somehow that leads to the ref getting bumped. Doink tries to hide under the ring again, but Crush pulls him back once more and reapplies the Kompactor, but here comes a second Doink The Clown. He attacks with the prosthetic arm and they double team Crush until he’s knocked out. The original Doink revives the ref, while the second one goes back under the ring, and gets the 3 count at 8:29. Another ref comes out and they search under the ring, but Doink #2 has mysteriously disappeared. Not much of a match, but I will reiterate that the Doink character was awesome. ½*
Razor Ramon vs. Bob Backlund
Backlund had recently returned to the WWF at age 43 and was coming off an impressive sixty minute plus performance at the Rumble, but nothing much would come of it for him. Razor was coming off a loss to Bret Hart at the Rumble, and was kind of left floundering until his face turn later that summer. Backlund offers a handshake, so Razor throws the toothpick at him. Razor then shoves him back a couple of times, with the crowd even chanting for him, but on the third try Backlund sweeps the legs. He gets a second legsweep, but Razor gets him with a kick to take over. He works Backlund over with a couple of slams and stomps away. Corner whip is reversed and leads to Backlund getting a hiptoss, followed by a second one. He then gets a dropkick, clothesline, double underhook suplex and the running atomic drop, but Razor goes to the apron. Backlund slingshots him back in, but Razor then small packages him for 3 at 3:45. ½*
WWF Tag Team Championship Match: Money Inc. vs. The Mega Maniacs (w/Jimmy Hart)
Ok, so on Raw back in February, Beefcake made his return to action after suffering severe facial injuries in July of 1990. In a match against Ted Dibiase, IRS got involved and they ended up double teaming Beefcake and nailing him with the briefcase. Money Inc. manager Jimmy Hart objected to this and ended up leaving the champs to side with Beefcake over it. Hulk Hogan came back for the first time since Wrestlemania VIII to help his buddy even the score, and the match was set for here today. Beefcake is wearing a stupid looking protective mask here due to the Money Inc. attack. Also, one of wrestling’s biggest urban legends begins here as Hogan comes out with a severe black eye and stitches over the eye. In storyline terms, Hogan was attacked by Money Inc.’s hired goons last night as he was leaving the gym. The official explanation released by the WWF was that Hogan was involved in a Jet Ski accident shortly before this show. Longstanding rumour says that Hogan and Randy Savage had a confrontation backstage with Savage accusing Hogan of having an affair with Elizabeth and subsequently punching Hogan to cause those injuries. As Hogan makes his entrance and the announcers acknowledge the injuries, Savage declares “It had to be a cheap shot”. What, if anything, that means, and what actually happened to Hogan are questions that will probably never be accurately answered to everyone’s satisfaction. Anyway, Money Inc. attacks, but Hogan and Beefcake fight back and clear the ring. The champs stall on the floor for a bit before Beefcake and IRS start out. He gets Beefcake with a knee and rams him to the buckle before tagging Dibiase. Dibiase gets some shots on Beefcake and lures Hogan in to distract the ref and allow an illegal double team and switch. IRS keeps working him over and tags back to Dibiase who comes in with a double axhandle off the 2nd rope, but hurts himself on the mask. Beefcake nails both guys and gets a double noggin knocker. Dibiase tries ramming Beefcake to the buckle, but that has no effect and Beefacke ends up ramming Dibiase ten times. He then makes the tag to Hogan who punches Dibiase in the corner and hits a clothesline before tagging Beefcake. The Maniacs get a double big boot and Beefcake gets a slam. Tag to Hogan who comes in with a double ax off the 2nd rope. Dibiase remains caught in the corner and ends up getting clotheslined to the floor. IRS comes in and also gets tossed so the champs decide to walk away for the count out. But wait! The ref, who I guess is Vince McMahon is disguise, changes the stipulations on the fly and declares that they will lose their titles if they do that, so they charge back to beat the count. Now Dibiase gets Hogan with a knee and chokes him on the ropes. IRS then uses the tag rope to choke Hogan from the apron and they take turns doing that while the other distracts the ref. Dibiase hooks the Million Dollar Dream and puts Hogan down. The arm drops twice, but Hogan comes back. IRS comes in and as the ref gets him out, Beefcake comes in, breaks the hold, and hooks the sleeper on Dibiase. Once Beefcake leaves, both guys are out. They crawl for the tag and both end up getting it. Beefcake gets a high knee on IRS and then atomic drops Dibiase to the floor. He keeps on IRS, but comes off the ropes and gets nailed in the back with the briefcase by Dibiase. IRS drops an elbow and tags Dibiase who comes in with some knees. He then goes for the mask and try as Beefacke might to hold on to it, Dibiase gets it off. Now the champs trade off a few times hitting several shots to the face until Beefcake is able to duck a shot and nail both guys with a clothesline. He then gets IRS in the sleeper, but Dibiase attacks from behind and the ref gets bumped. They both crawl for the tag (Hello? The ref is out guys, you don’t need to tag.) Hogan comes in with Dibiase and gets the three punches, Irish whip, and big boot, but IRS tries to attack with the mask. Hogan puts a stop to that and knocks both champs out. The Maniacs get a double pin, but the ref is still out, so Jimmy Hart comes in, turns his jacket inside out to reveal black and white stripes (as though that makes it more legal somehow), and counts 3. They celebrate with the belts, but another ref comes out and declares that Hogan and Beefcake have been disqualified around 18:30 or so (no bell was ever heard). They clear the champs out and toss some money found in the briefcase into the crowd as part of the postmatch celebration. Watching live in 1993 at age 11, I would have been more than happy to see Hogan and Beefcake walk out with the belts even if I wasn’t a fan of them. We were actually shocked to see that it didn’t happen, but little did we know that this was not the last we would see of Hogan on this day. Match was another case of being way too long for such a crappy finish, and was not very good while it lasted, although it did have good heat. ½*
The Narcissist Lex Luger vs. Mr. Perfect
Luger had a confrontation with Bret Hart at the Wrestlemania Brunch this morning and knocked Bret out with the loaded forearm. Doesn’t bode well for Perfect when they’re already setting his opponent up for a feud with the World Champion before this match even takes place, although that angle actually ended up going nowhere. They trade holds to start things off with Luger going to the eyes to control. Irish whip is reversed and Perfect gets a shot to the gut and a kneelift. He follows up with a shoulderblock and a kneelift to send Luger to the floor. Back in, they lockup and Luger gets a cheapshot on the break. He hammers away, but Perfect soon catches a boot and trips him up. He drops a knee on Luger’s knee and starts working it over with a spinning toehold, but Luger makes the ropes. Corner whip is reversed and Perfect ends up hitting and doing a flip sell. Luger tosses him to the floor and runs his back to the apron. In the ring he gets a backbreaker and drops an elbow for 2. Perfect fights back and sends Luger to the corner, but Luger gets the knee up. He scoops the legs for a pin and gets 2 before the ref sees the feet on the ropes and breaks it. Powerslam gets 2 followed by sending Perfect off the ropes, but Perfect comes off with a sunset flip for 2. Perfect then goes to a sleeper, but Luger backs him to the corner to break. They trade some shots leading to Perfect getting a small package for 2. He then hits a backdrop and sends Luger to the buckle, and then does it again with a catapult. Irish whip and forearm get 2, but when he mounts Luger in the corner, Luger atomic drops out. Perfect still gets a couple of clotheslines for 2, followed by a neckbreaker for 2 as well. Top rope dropkick gets another near fall as Luger makes the ropes. He tries a backslide, but Luger hooks the ropes to block it. Luger then gets his own backslide, and even with Perfect’s feet in the ropes, Luger gets the 3 count at 11:01. Perfect protests, but Luger gets him with the forearm to knock him out cold. He follows Luger to the back after recovering and finds him with Shawn Michaels. They brawl briefly, but Shawn intervenes and attacks Perfect to kick off that feud. * for the match.
Giant Gonzales (w/Harvey Wippleman) vs. The Undertaker (w/Paul Bearer)
The parade of crap continues. Gonzales debuted at the Rumble attacking Taker and eliminating him with the idea being that Wippleman brought him in as revenge for Taker beating his previous guy, Kamala. Gonzales also has the most ridiculous tights ever as they cover his whole body and have muscles and fur painted on them. Gonzales nails Taker a few times, but he keeps popping back up. Gonzales then grabs a choke and backs him to the corner, but Taker grabs a choke as well. Taker starts to climb the ropes, but Gonzales low blows him. Taker doesn’t really sell it though and just goes to a wristlock and tries the ropewalk, which hits, but Gonzales won’t go down. He tries some kicks, but runs into a big boot and gets hit with a clothesline. Gonzales gets a hiptoss and goes to a rear chinlock. He gets Taker down, but the arm doesn’t drop at all. Taker is back to his feet and elbows out but charges at Gonzales and gets tossed. Gonzales sends him to the stairs a couple of times and gets him back in. They trade shots as Taker finally takes him down to one knee. He goes after Wippleman, so Gonzales headbutts Bearer in retaliation. Now to really push us over the edge of silliness, Gonzales gets a chloroform soaked rag that he uses to put Taker out and the result is a disqualification at 7:36. Taker does a stretcher job to sell it, although he ends up coming right back out after Gonzales, but they get separated. Definitely negative star worthy, lets say -**. This was probably the closest Taker’s streak has ever been to ending (before it really got off the ground) because with the idea being to build a rematch you could have easily put Gonzales over here. Something tells me that Taker may have stood up for himself and insisted on not losing, and if so, good for him considering how useless Gonzales was.
Hulk Hogan (Wait, he’s already had his match, what’s going on here?) cuts a promo. He claims that he and all his Hulkamaniacs are behind Bret, but also that he’s issuing a challenge to the winner. I don’t like where this may be headed.
Main Event, WWF Championship Match: Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. Yokozuna (w/Mr. Fuji)
Yoko won the Royal Rumble to get the shot here. It was the first Rumble with that stipulation, and in this case I think it made for a weaker build up. Notwithstanding the fact that Yoko was completely the wrong type of heel they needed to get to work with Bret, there was just no real reason to get excited about this match. Watching live, we were expecting Bret to lose, but somehow we knew in the back of our minds that they wouldn’t end the big event on that note, so we didn’t rule out the possibility of him winning. Bret charges with a dropkick and gets some punches in the corner, but Yoko just shoves him off. More punches, but Yoko shoves him back again. Bret tries a waistlock, but that won’t work and Yoko shoulderblocks him to the floor. He goes to kick Bret from the apron, but Bret grabs the leg and hooks him in the ropes. Bret then gets a slingshot splash and lands some more punches. He then drops the 2nd rope elbow before the ref gets Yoko free. Bret tries a couple of clotheslines to no effect, and on the third try Yoko catches him with one of his own. Bodyslam sets up the big legdrop and then Yoko chokes him on the ropes. After holding a nervehold for a bit, he sends Bret to the corner, but Bret gets the boot up. He comes off the 2nd rope with a bulldog for 2, but Yoko gets up and nails a crescent kick. Snapmare leads back to the nervehold again before another corner whip sees Yoko miss a charge. Bret goes to the 2nd rope and gets another bulldog for 2, followed by another 2nd rope elbow for 2. Two clotheslines take Yoko down, but he gets right back up. Bret mounts him for punches in the corner and Yoko drops him, but not before Bret pulls the turnbuckle pad off trying to hold on. Yoko tries to ram Bret to the exposed buckle, but Bret blocks and rams Yoko instead. Yoko goes down and Bret hooks the Sharpshooter, but Fuji throws the salt in Bret’s eyes, and that gets Yoko the pin and the WWF Championship at 8:57. Super weak main event, and a really bad ending for Bret, but as I said I think that going in this direction in the first place was a big mistake. * Speaking of big mistakes, here comes Hogan to protest this injustice. Good for him, but what happens is that Fuji challenges Hogan to a match right here, right now, even stating he’ll put the belt up. Hogan accepts, so we have….
Impromptu WWF Championship Match: Yokozuna (w/Mr. Fuji) vs. Hulk Hogan
Hogan ducks the salt, which nails Yoko. He hits Fuji, then clotheslines Yoko and gets the legdrop for 3 to win the WWF Championship for the fifth time. -* Bret who? Awful ending which I guess is only appropriate considering it was an awful show.
Well, it has the reputation for being the worst Wrestlemania of all time, and that’s a reputation it damn sure deserves. Match of the night hits a whopping **1/2 and when the best you have to offer is a buildup tag match, that is not a good sign. Not to mention that only having two clean finishes, in arguably the two least meaningful matches no less, really makes it a hard show to be excited about. While I’m sure there are a few Hulkamaniacs out there who were happy about this result, the simple fact is that it really set the company back at a point when they needed to be looking forward. Hogan’s time on top was done and this was when they should have been looking in a new direction. If Hogan had realized that it was time to give back and help out the company that made him by taking the role that Bruno did during the Backlund Era, I think things would have worked out well enough to make it worth everyone’s while. While Bret Hart wasn’t necessarily the answer either, he was at least a breath of fresh air on top until the pollution that was Hulkamania rolled back in. Thumbs way down for Wrestlemania IX and the recommendation is to avoid the show at all costs. Not even a single individual match worth seeking out here.