This Smark Wrestlemania Rant by Scott Keith is part of a series of reposts counting down to this year’s Wrestlemania. They are re-published “as is” with relative commentary from when they were written. Enjoy!
The Netcop Retro Rant for Wrestlemania IX
– Live from Las Vegas, Nevada. Original airdate: April 4, 1993
– Your hosts are Jim Ross, Bobby Heenan and Randy Savage. This was JR’s debut. Wearing a toga.
– This was also my first review on the internet, ever. I was in an anti-WWF place at that time, so it was pretty negative, IIRC. But then the”review” was only about 12 lines long, so it all evens out.
– Opening match, Intercontinental title: Shawn Michaels v. T-t-t-t-t-tanka. Shawn has Luna Vachon with him, in her debut. Sherri follows Tatanka, dressed like an indian princess. Poke-her-hontas? Shawn admires himself in the belt before we get underway. The Caesar’s Palace idea was neat, it makes for great atmosphere. Shawn bumps like a motherf*cker, getting armdragged off the top rope and then doing a Flair flip and falling off to the floor. A greco-roman thumb to the eye leads to a botched sunset flip off the top for two. But Tatanka comes back with a devastating move #919 (ARM-bar) to slow down the momentum. Shawn takes a MAN-SIZED charge to the post, setting up move #193 (arm-BAR). Shoulderbreaker and big elbow gets two, but Tatanka eats superkick coming off the top rope to swing the pendulum back to the commish. Nice running clothesline off the apron by Shawn. It should be noted that this is years before Luna had her breasts augmented. It should also be noted that her deadbeat husband Dave Heath (currently known as Gangrel) would win the PWI Rookie of the Year award as Vampire Warrior this year. More resting. Shawn must be stoned — he botches a victory roll. But Tatanka is the Pissed Off Racial Stereotype. Chop, chop, chop, bodypress for two. Catapult to the post yields two. Shawn is bumping like a MAN. Shawn escapes the Papoose to Go with a rollup for two. He goes to the top but gets caught with a powerslam for two. Shawn is the king of bumps, and he’s single-handedly carrying this thing. He misses another apron clothesline and lands on the stairs face-first. Shawn takes out his frustrations on Joey Marella, and Tatanka hits the fallaway slam, but Marella won’t count because Shawn was counted out or something. Bad ending, okay match. Probably the best we could have hoped for out of this show. **1/2 Six years later, Shawn is retired, Tatanka might as well be, and the referee is dead.
– Mean Gene interviews the Steiner Brothers, in happier days.
– The Headshrinkers v. The Steiner Brothers. The very first JR broadcast, and he works in “Slobberknocker” and “smash-mouth” LESS THAN A MINUTE IN. I bet he’ll start reeling off the football references any minute now. Steiner gets double-teamed very quickly. The Steiners retaliate with a double Steiner-line off the top rope. JR must be creaming in his toga. Scott dominates Samu, but gets dumped right over the top and takes a MAN-SIZED bump to the floor in what looked to be intended as a stungun. JR notes that this is probably what the action in the Roman coliseums was like. I don’t recall the Christians putting the lions in a chinlock and whispering “Roar and then bite my leg off and I’ll bleed to death”, but I’ll take his word for it. Scott plays Ricky Morton and the ‘Shrinkers punch and kick a lot. This match is getting entirely too much airtime for the non-workrate. Rick gets the hot tag but makes the mistake of ramming the Samoans’ heads together. He’s very dumb, you see. In an awesome spot, the heels go for a Doomsday Device and Rick catches and powerslams Samu in mid-air! Scott tags in again and finishes it with the Frankensteiner in short order. At this point it was getting scary watching Scott do the rana. *1/2
– Crush v. Doink the Clown. This is a pretty infamous match. Doink the psychotic clown was always a very cool gimmick. Crush attacks Doink before the bell, sportsman that he is. There’s TOO MANY BRIGHT COLORS HERE. Crush is decked out in neon yellow, orange and purple. Doink has red, blue and yellow, with green hair. This is going to wreck my TV screen. Meanwhile, the match sucks the meat missile. Crush goes for the Kona Kompactor, but the ref gets bumped and Doink rolls out and tries to crawl under the ring. Crush throws him back in and applies the Kompactor, but Doink II comes from under the ring and decks Crush with a prosthetic arm, and a beatdown results. Doink I gets the pin when the ref wakes up. A supremely bad idea. -**
– Razor Ramon v. Bob Backlund. Ramon was a few weeks away from his face turn (and the accompanying debut of the 1-2-3 Kid) while Backlund was a year and a half away from reclaiming the WWF title. Big “Razor” chant for the supposed heel Ramon. Pretty much a Ramon squash, although Backlund gets his 70s offense in, including the ATOMIC DROP OF DEATH! Ramon gets an inside cradle out of nowhere for the pin about three seconds later for the pin. After the match, Ramon does the “Me-me-me-me-YEAH” thing, actually saying “me me me me me” while doing it. *
– WWF tag title match: Money, Inc. v. Hulk Hogan & Brutus Beefcake. I could have lived with Hogan and Beefcake as tag champs, honest I could. If only he had settled for that much. Hogan is sporting a black eye, Money Inc takes credit for it by saying they hired goons to beat him up the night before. Hogan gets a decidedly lukewarm reaction. He’s looking like Kidman here — no muscle definition at all. It should be noted that everyone in this match went on to join the nWo at various points. In fact, there’s a very nWo-ish theme running through the show, with future nWo members in just about every match. The deterioration of Beefcake had begun in earnest at this point. Dibiase plays the heel in peril, as the Egomaniacs pummel the champions at will. Finally the champs simply walk, and Earl Hebner does the old “If they don’t get in by 10, they lose the titles” bit. So they make it back in and go to work on Hogan with the usual cheap heel tactics. Dibiase slaps the Million Dollar Dream on Hogan, which Hogan sells as if it were a chinlock, thus killing the move for Dibiase. Savage: “The people are hanging from the rafters…although this Roman coliseum doesn’t have rafters…but it has columns, and people are hanging from them.” You just don’t get insightful commentary like that today. The referee is distracted by IRS, and Beefcake puts his shitty sleeper on Dibiase, which of course knocks him into a coma after three seconds. Double knockout, but Hogan revives first. Hogan hot tags Beefer and punches away, sadly showing more moves than HHH does in an average match today. Dibiase nails Beefcake with the suitcase, and now Beefcake is (broken) face in peril again. God, this match is right out of 1988. No wonder Hogan got turfed out of the WWF. Dibiase pulls off the protective mask worn by Beefcake…and it’s Rey Mysterio Jr! No, just kidding, it’s still Beefcake. This match is way long. Beefcake with the sleeper on IRS, and the ref gets bumped. Hogan gets the hot tag and the ref is still out. Big boot and both Money Inc members get nailed with the PROTECTIVE MASK OF DOOM, but the ref is still out. Jimmy Hart comes in and counts the pin himself. But Danny Davis runs in and disqualifys the challengers for hitting Money Inc with the mask. This was setting off alarm bells in my head while watching the show live way back when, because it occurred to me that Hogan never settled for losing on a Wrestlemania without gaining face somehow. If only I knew… 1/4*
– Toad Pedophile finds Natalie Cole at ringside. And the owner of Caesar’s Palace, who yaks about whatever.
– Mr. Perfect v. The Narcissist. Speaking of egomaniacs. More nWo influence, as both guys went on to join. Luger brings some choice T&A to the ring with him to hold up his mirrors. The Narcissist gimmick was perfectly suited to Luger, much better than the stupid Hogan-warmed-over face turn he did. He start with an exchange of headlocks and wristlocks that go nowhere. Hennig kicks away at Luger’s knee and chops him so hard that it echoes through Caesar’s Palace. Hennig takes a nice bump into the corner, but nothing up to his usual Shawn-like standards. Luger goes to work on the back with the LOADED FOREARM OF DOOM. Kicking and punching abounds. Luger gets two with the Flair pinning-attempt-in-the-corner. Hennig with a sunset flip and a sleeper to cue the comeback. Small package for two. Cross-corner whip and slingshot to the post gets two. I think Hennig worked that slingshot into his repretoire out of spite for his loss to Jerry Lawler in 1988. They fight over a backslide and Luger gets it for the pin, despite Hennig having both legs in the second rope. Luger gives him the LOADED FOREARM OF DOOM for good measure, knocking him out. Hennig chases Luger to the back and is attacked by Shawn Michaels, signalling the start of their feud. *
– Giant Gonzalez v. The Undertaker. Undertaker has a vulture with him. That’s about the most interesting thing here. A truly wretched match, topped only by their Summerslam 93 rematch. Gonzalez “sells” like he’s being poked with Scott Hall’s tazer gun, and moves like he’s got a pole shoved up his ass. After 18 hours of excrutiating non-action, the Giant gets a chloroform-soaked rag and smothers Undertaker into unconsciousness, drawing the DQ. -***
– Mean Gene interviews Hulk Hogan before the main event, another bad sign.
– WWF title match: Bret Hart v. Yokozuna. All of what followed never should have happened. 1993 was a dismal failure with Hogan and Yokozuna as champions. Vince should have just had faith in Bret to begin with and allowed him to keep the title, but no, it was not to be. Bret wrestles a smart match, luring Yoko near the ropes from the outside and then tripping him on the bottom rope. He slingshots in with a diving headbutt and goes with the elbow on the second rope. Goes downhill from there, as Yoko takes over with a shoulderblock and the usual crappy Yoko offense. Yoko eats boot on a cross-corner charge and Bret gets two. Superkick turns the tide again. More deadly nerve pinching. Cross-corner charge misses again, and Hart with the bulldog for two. FIVE MOVES OF DOOM! Bret yanks the turnbuckle pad off, and rams Yoko’s head into it, then applies the Sharpshooter. The devious Mr. Fui chooses that moment to toss a huge pile of salt into Bret’s eyes (some of which lands on Hebner) and Yoko rolls up Bret for the title. *1/2
– Hulk Hogan comes in to protest, and instead of getting the ref to reverse the decision like any other babyface, he takes a title match with Yokozuna right there. As if anyone would be stupid enough to put the title on the line right away. Then to add insult to insult, it’s a joke “match” as Fuji tosses salt in Yoko’s face by accident and Hogan hits the legdrop for the pin and his last WWF title. See Nash, Kevin. The crowd is less than enthralled with this decision. Why couldn’t they just do Hart v. Hogan?
The Bottom Line: This Wrestlemania bombed big-time, as Hogan’s WWF marketability was shot down once and for all. Despite having all the booking suddenly centered around him again, Hogan proceeded to take two months off to enjoy his new title. This was the last straw in the eyes of Vince McMahon, who had two perfectly good champions in Yokozuna & Bret Hart simply going to waste on the sidelines, and so at King of the Ring, Hogan was beaten and humiliated by Yokozuna in his last WWF match, and in the final insult, was pinned with his own finisher, the legdrop. The message was clear: The Hogan era is over, and no more prima donnas need apply.
Ironically, Bret Hart would see that advice come back to haunt him 4 years later. But that’s another story.
As for WM9, while some have called it the worst PPV ever, it certainly has historical signficance, and that alone disqualifies it from the running. Shows like Road Wild and King of the Ring 95 were uniformly bad and offered no lasting change for the wrestling world, and so can be more easily considered the worst. Still, Wrestlemania IX ranks as the worst WM ever, easily.
Tags: Bret Hart, Hulk Hogan, Scott Keith, SmarK Rant