JZ Says: WWF WrestleMania VIII (Hulk Hogan, Sid Justice)

Hoosier Dome – Indianapolis, Indiana – Sunday, April 5, 1992

Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby “The Brain” Heenan are on commentary.

MATCH #1: “El Matador” Tito Santana vs. Shawn Michaels with Sherri

Michaels had just recently broken away from Marty Jannetty and this is arguably his biggest singles match to date. Matador takes the early advantage, frustrating the Heart Break Kid with a headlock. Michaels thinks he’s making a comeback but Matador clotheslines him to the floor. Back in the ring Matador goes back to the headlock. Every time Michaels tries to go on offense the veteran Matador cuts him off and ground him. Finally, Michaels sidesteps a charging Matador and pitch him to the floor. Back in the ring Michaels takes control and slows the pace down. Matador tries to fight up, but Michaels cuts him down with a superkick, which was not yet the end-all finisher it would become. Michaels goes for the Slingshot Suplex, but Matador avoids it. Matador drills Michaels with the Flying forearm smash that sends Michaels all the way to the floor. He follows him out and rams his head into the steps. Matador comes back to the ring with a slingshot shoulder block. He unleashes a flurry of offense, culminating in El Paso de la Muerte. Michaels rolls to the floor to avoid getting pinned. Up on the apron Matador tries to bodyslam Michaels back in but Michaels hangs on to the top rope and then falls on top to score the pin at 10:38. That was a great choice for an opener, as Santana was the perfect foil for an up and coming heel like Michaels. I feel like this match gets overlooked but it’s quite solid.
Rating: ***

MATCH #2: Jake “The Snake” Roberts vs. Undertaker with Paul Bearer

Roberts starts off with some right hands, but they seem to have no effect. One punch sends Undertaker to the floor, but he lands on his feet and pulls Roberts out with him! Undertaker throws Roberts into the post. Back in the ring Roberts continues trying to wear Undertaker down but Undertaker seems completely indifferent to it. Undertaker chokes Roberts down but the referee is too intimidated to do much about it. The Dead Man hits a big elbow drop and the flying clothesline. Roberts catches a quick DDT and Undertaker sits up! The Snake hits a second DDT, but he gets distracted going after Paul Bearer on the floor. Undertaker goes out after him and hits the Tombstone Piledriver! Back in the ring Undertaker makes the academic pin at 6:43. Roberts was gone right after this, so it was a good way to use him, once again making Undertaker look great.
Rating: **

MATCH #3: Intercontinental Championship Match – “Rowdy” Roddy Piper vs. Bret “Hit Man” Hart

Piper has been the Champion since 1.19.92, and this is his fourth major defense. They start with some chain wrestling, trying to keep it a nice contest in the early going. Piper tries a go-behind and Hart uses momentum to send him to the floor. That angers Piper, who gets back in the ring and spits at his challenger. Things calm down and Hart goes after the arm. Hart hits a nice dropkick but appears to injure his shoulder on the way down. It turns out he was playing possum though and he grabs an inside cradle for a near-fall. Piper is furious now and things get heated. Hart tries a cross body block, but Piper catches him and they both tumble over the ropes to the floor. Piper gets back in the ring first and holds the ropes open for Hart to come back in. The Champ then points out that Hart’s boot is untied, and Piper takes the chance to sucker punch Hart in the face. Awesome. Piper wisely targets the injured area, hitting a bulldog for a two-count. The Champion continues the abuse, but Hart fights back and knock Piper to the floor with a flying forearm. Piper gets back in the ring and the two men clothesline each other. Oddly, Piper’s head is covering Hart, but I guess since all four shoulders are down the referee counts no one? That just looked weird. Piper gets up first and goes to the top rope. Hart pops up and pulls Piper down face-first. He has his second wind now and he hits Piper with an inverted atomic drop and a snap suplex for two. A side Russian Legsweep gets another two-count. Hart hits the backbreaker and goes for the Sharpshooter. Piper blocks it but Hart drills him with a hard elbow smash. Hart goes to the second rope and goes for the elbow, but Piper gets hit boot up. The referee gets bumped accidentally, and Piper knocks Hart to the floor. Piper grabs the ring bell and appears ready to hit Hart with it. The crowd disapproves, and Piper has a change of heart. Piper instead locks Hart in a Sleeper hold. Hart climbs up the turnbuckles and pushes off into a cradle to get the pin at 13:51! That may be Piper’s best match ever, and a quintessential face versus face matchup. They clearly respected each other but things still got heated and it added a lot of drama to the match. Great finish too.
Rating: ****¼

MATCH #4: Eight-Man Tag Team Match – The Mountie, Repo Man & The Nasty Boys vs. Sgt. Slaughter, Big Boss Man, “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan & Virgil

Family Feud host Ray Combs did the introductions for this match and insulted the heel team to the point that they went after him, so he never got to announce the babyfaces. The match starts off as a big brawl and the good guys send the bad guys reeling. Duggan and Nasty Boy Jerry Sags start the match proper. That doesn’t go so well for Sags, who gets beat up by Duggan and then Slaughter. Brian Knobbs tags in and he doesn’t fare much better. The heel team finally gets a little bit of offense in on the Boss Man, but Repo Man blows it by getting punched in the groin. Virgil tags in and gets a few moves in. The bad guys cut Virgil off and isolate him in their corner for a bit. Things break down and the referee loses control. The Nasty Boys try to hit Virgil with his nose guard but Virgil ducks and Sags hits Knobbs. That’s enough for Virgil to get the pin at 6:32. Not much of interest really happened here but it was a fine way to get more names on the card and it was a good buffer between Hart/Piper and Savage/Flair, so it works.
Rating: *½

MATCH #5: WWF Championship Match – Ric Flair with Mr. Perfect vs. “Macho Man” Randy Savage

Flair has been the Champion since 1.19.92, and this is his second defense. Savage runs to the ring and the fight is on. The bell rings while both men are on the floor, which is just poor officiating. Perfect interferes early on, and Savage is looking like a very angry man. Savage dominates Flair in the early going, as he’s fighting for both the Title and the honor of his wife Elizabeth. Flair cuts off a charging Savage with a back drop over the top rope and to the floor. The fight continues out on the floor, where Flair goes to work on Savage’s back. They make it back to the ring and Flair is dissecting his challenger. After several minutes of abuse Savage fights back with strikes. Savage hits a swinging neckbreaker and both men are down. Back on their feet Savage unloads with punches. Flair pokes him in the eyes and goes to the top rope but Savage slams him down. Savage continues unleashing the fury, clotheslining Flair to the floor. He follows with an axhandle from the top rope. Flair gets busted open as Savage continues the brutal beating both in and out of the ring. Savage goes up top and hits the Diving elbow drop but Perfect pulls him off the cover. A furious Savage goes after Perfect, and in the melee Perfect gives Flair a pair of brass knuckles. Flair decks Savage with the knux but can only get a two-count! Perfect hits Savage in the knee with a chair from the floor, and Flair smells blood in the water. Elizabeth makes her way to ringside, as officials (including a young Shane McMahon) try to convince her to go back to the dressing room. Flair is viciously attacking Savage’s knee, setting up for the Figure-Four Leglock. He puts the hold on, but Savage will not give up. Savage turns it over and Flair slips out, only to walk right into an inside cradle for a near-fall. Flair goes back to work on the knee and talks trash at Elizabeth. Savage blocks a punch and decks Flair, and then rolls him up with a handful of trunks to get the pin and win the title at 18:03. I love this feud and I love this match so hard. The hatred felt real as these two just tore into each other with the title and Elizabeth’s pride at stake. Flair tried to goad Savage into losing his cool, and he did a great job of that, but in the end, Flair was just a little too cocky. Savage cheating to win on “The Dirtiest Player in the Game” is just sheer brilliance.
Rating: ****¾

MATCH #6: Tatanka vs. “The Model” Rick Martel

They lock up and Martel takes an early advantage, but Tatanka quickly fights back and sends Martel scurrying to the floor to regroup. Back in the ring Martel tries to wear Tatanka down but to no avail. Martel misses a charge in the corner and his shoulder hits the ring post. Tatanka capitalizes on the injury and works the arm. Martel responds with a choke takedown. He hurls Tatanka over the top rope and to the floor. Martel joins Tatanka on the floor and delivers a few strikes before throwing him back in the ring. He goes up top and Tatanka shakes the ropes to knock him down. Tatanka is a house afire now, unleashing a slew of offensive maneuvers. Martel fights back briefly but Tatanka ducks a clothesline and hits a high cross body block to score the pin at 4:32. That was adequate for a post-intermission bout. Tatanka looked good in beating the veteran Martel clean.
Rating: *¾

MATCH #7: World Tag Team Championship Match – Money Inc. with Jimmy Hart vs. The Natural Disasters

Ted DiBiase and Irwin R. Schyster have been the Champions since 2.7.92, and this is their first major defense. Earthquake and DiBiase start the match. DiBiase and IRS tag each other several times before any contact is made. Earthquake uses his size and strength advantage early on, and the Champions look overmatched. The challengers send the Champs to the floor, where they regroup with their manager. Back in the ring IRS tries going after Earthquake’s arm but that goes nowhere. Typhoon tags in and he throws IRS around. Finally, IRS avoids a charge in the corner and tags DiBiase. The Champions still can’t capitalize though, as the challengers are just too big. Typhoon charges at DiBiase against the ropes and DiBiase moves, causing Typhoon to tumble to the floor (sort of). Now the Champions have the advantage, and they work on keeping Typhoon on the mat. DiBiase and Typhoon clothesline each other and both men are down. Tags are made and Earthquake is a house afire. All four men get in the ring and the Disasters are dominating. The challengers send DiBiase to the floor. Typhoon hits IRS with the Splash and Earthquake goes for the Vertical splash, but Jimmy Hart pulls IRS to the floor. Money Inc. decides it’s not worth it and they take the countout loss at 8:38. So the Natural Disasters win the match but not the titles. This was okay enough given the participants, but it didn’t exactly make the Champions look good.
Rating: **

MATCH #8: “The Rocket” Owen Hart vs. Skinner

Hart enters the ring with a back flip off the top rope, and Skinner takes advantage by spitting tobacco in his eyes. Skinner stays on the attack, delivering a shoulder-breaker and a series of punches. He delivers a boot to the midsection and then hits the Gator Breaker, but it only gets two because of his nonchalant cover. Skinner tries to throw Hart over the top rope, but Hart skins the cat and grabs an O’Connor Roll for the pin at 1:11. Not much going on there, but at least Owen went over.
Rating: ¾*

MATCH #9: Hulk Hogan vs. Sid Justice with Harvey Wippleman

Sid attacks Hogan right as he gets into the ring and Hogan sends the big man packing while his music continues to play. The bell rings while Sid is still on the floor. Poor officiating! Sid makes his way into the ring and immediately takes the advantage, wearing Hogan down. Hogan fights back with a series of right hands to send Sid back to the floor. Sid gets back in the ring and they engage in a test of strength, which goes very well for the maniacal one. Sid backs Hogan into the corner and tries a whip, but Hogan reverses it and levels Sid with a clothesline. Wippleman distracts Hogan, allowing Sid to hit a huge Chokeslam. Sid knocks Hogan to the floor and continues the abuse. They head back inside, and Sid keeps Hogan on the mat. Sid hits a side suplex and calls for the Powerbomb. He hits a weak-ass Powerbomb and Hogan starts Hulking Up! Hogan hits the Big Boot and then slams Sid, taking him off his feet for the first time in the match. He hits the Legdrop, but Sid kicks out! As a 10-year-old that blew my mind. Wippleman gets in the ring and does exactly nothing, drawing the disqualification for the worst finish in WrestleMania history at 12:27. The match wasn’t exactly much to get excited about either, with lots of rest holds and punches. This is easily a bottom five worst main events in the history of the Show of Shows.
Rating: *

Papa Shango ambles out, apparently having missed his cue. Sid and Shango attack Hogan until some familiar music hits. The Ultimate Warrior is back! Warrior looks slightly different, and thus the “it’s a different guy” rumors are born. Hogan and Warrior pose to end the show.

JZ Says
Two stone cold classics anchor one of my nostalgia-fueled favorite WrestleMania events. Savage/Flair and Hart/Piper are both terrific, and a fine showing by Shawn Michaels in the opener and a dominant win for the Undertaker are highlights as well.

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