Scott & JT’s Vintage Vault Refresh: March to WrestleMania IX – 3/28/93

*** Scott & JT’s Vintage Vault Refresh reviews are a chronological look back at WWE PPV and TV history that began with a review of WrestleMania I. The PICs have revisited these events and refreshed all of their fun facts that provide insight into the match, competitors and state of the company as well as their overviews of the match action and opinions and thoughts on the outcomes. In addition, Jeff Jarvis assists in compiling historical information and the Fun Facts in each of the reviews. Also, be sure to leave feedback on the reviews at our Facebook page. Enjoy! ***

March to WrestleMania IX

March 28, 1993 (March 7, 1993)
Cumberland County Memorial Auditorium
Fayetteville, NC
Announcers: Vince McMahon & Bobby Heenan

*** We open the show with highlights of the big WrestleMania IX contract signing between Bret Hart and Yokozuna. The segment ended with Yokozuna attacking the WWF Champion. ***

1) Yokozuna defeats Randy Savage with a belly-to-belly suplex at 6:36

Fun Fact: Going back to the Royal Rumble, Randy Savage and Yokozuna were the final two in the Rumble match, with Yokozuna pressing him over the top rope for the win.

Scott: Randy Savage gets a chance to redeem himself after looking like a total dope at the Royal Rumble by trying to pin Yokozuna. One week away from the challenger’s date in Las Vegas with the Hitman for the gold, Yoko gets a chance to finish off the Macho Man. Vince thinks this was a big mistake by facing a future Hall of Famer just one week away from Yoko’s date with destiny. This is a fun match because we don’t get to see Savage in the ring as much as we should so seeing him on the big stage is a nice gift to the fans. Of course he can’t do anything against the massive #1 contender. Bobby makes a good point saying that Bret is wearing himself thin by going all over the world wrestling and doing promotional appearances. This was a glorified squash, which was a big deal at the time because Savage is still a top dog even if he hasn’t wrestled lately. Remember it was only last September he was WWF Champion and lost to Ric Flair. Savage was making a big comeback until Mr. Fuji shoved him off the top rope with the Japanese flag. Yoko hits the belly-to-belly and wins the match. It was a quick sprint to give Savage some play and give the #1 contender one more legit win before April 4 in Vegas. Savage gets some heat back by ducking out of the way of a post-match Bonzai Drop and chasing Yoko out of the ring. Grade: *

JT: We are just one week away from WrestleMania and this is our final stop along the way as we put the finishing touches on the build for Las Vegas. Vince McMahon and Bobby Heenan have the call for us and we are opening things up with a big time bout, a rematch of sots from the Royal Rumble. It was there that Yokozuna eliminated Randy Savage from the Rumble bout to win the match and officials punch his ticket to WrestleMania. Tonight, Savage is looking for revenge on the mammoth sumo star. Yoko and Mr. Fuji sauntered out to the ring to get us started and he was followed by Macho, who got a big pop as always. Bobby thinks this could be a career ender for Savage but Vince thinks Yoko taking on this bout right before their big night in Vegas is a big mistake and Bobby agrees there. We get plenty of talk about Bret Hart as well and Bobby says the Hitman paid off Savage to attempt to hurt Yoko here. After some initial feeling out, Yoko plants Savage with a shoulder block and then starts to use some of his power strikes before chucking Macho to the floor. Bobby thinks Hart is running himself ragged and is primed for a loss at Mania. Yoko heads out and batters Savage on the floor and then shoves him back inside and continues the assault there. Savage peppered in some punches but Yoko cut that off with a big chop to the throat followed by a huge leg drop. Yoko kept pressing Savage, but whiffed on a running splash in the corner, allowing Macho to sprint to the top and pelt him with a double ax handle. Savage tried for a second one but Fuji jabbed him with the Japanese flag, sending him crashing to the mat. Yoko bounded up and planted Savage with a belly-to-belly for the win. After the bell, Yoko tried for the Banzai Splash but Savage was able to dodge him and escape. This was a statement for sure. Yoko pretty much just mauled Savage and even with the assist from Fuji, he still looked absolutely dominant in there. This was a great way to prep him with one last victory before Mania and sacrificing Savage was a worthy choice here tonight. The crowd was pretty into it too and Vince and Bobby did a great job tying this all into the main event of WrestleMania. Grade: *1/2

*** We revisit the debut of The Narcissist back at the Royal Rumble as well as some highlights of his knockout streak in matches. ***

2) Mr. Perfect defeats Skinner with the Perfectplex at 5:27

Scott: We get a look at Lex Luger, the Narcissist before this match. That fits since we will have Mr. Perfect vs. Luger at WrestleMania. First Perfect will take on Skinner, complete with his Hershey’s Chocolate Sauce spilling from his mouth. Mr. Perfect can easily be a #1 contender for the World Title and is in pretty good shape to do that with a win against Skinner here and Luger at WrestleMania. I like how Vince is alluding that Bobby and Luger paid Skinner off to take out Perfect before their match. Bobby loves Luger, but it’s not the same as when Ric Flair came in back in 1991. Sure he’s a cocky arrogant heel but he’s no Ric Flair. Perfect recovers to get the victory. Grade: **

JT: We head back to the ring for our next bout as Mr. Perfect heads to the ring to battle the alligator man, Skinner. Perfect is embroiled in a heated rivalry with Lex Luger, who we just saw a quick feature on before the bout. They will clash in Vegas. Skinner attacks at the bell and kicks Perfect down before slinging him into the corner and then tossing him to the floor. Skinner heads out and keeps bringing the heat, spiking him into the steps. Vince thinks Heenan and Luger may have paid off Skinner to hurt Perfect here but Bobby denies it and says Luger needs no help. Perfect turns the tide on the floor and runs Skinner into the post but back inside, Skinner takes off his belt and clotheslines Perfect with it before whipping him with it as well. No idea why the referee just stood there and watched that, but whatever. Skinner keeps laying the wood, cutting off Perfect’s comeback and controlling the match. The crowd tries to rally Perfect but Skinner has wrestled a strong match, really smothering Perfect and not giving an inch. Skinner made his first mistake when he came up empty on a leaping charge into the corner, crotching himself on the middle buckle. Perfect took advantage, laying in some strikes and running through his usual offense but Skinner was able to jab him in the eye with his alligator claw to slow him down. However, a second later, Skinner dipped his head and Perfect polished off the man from the Everglades with the Perfectplex. This was a fun little TV match with some good energy and solid work by both men. Skinner looked pretty good here, wrestling aggressively and nearly sneaking out a win. Perfect withstood the attack and steals the victory, putting himself into a good position mentally for WrestleMania. Grade: **

*** Vince McMahon plugs the WrestleMania hotline. Kids ask your parents’ permission, of course! ***

3) Kamala defeats Kim Chee with a splash at 2:10

Fun Fact: After losing to the Undertaker at Survivor Series 1992, Kamala turned face and gave up his handler, Kim Chee, and his manager, Harvey Wippleman. During the first part of 1993, Kamala would face Kim Chee multiple times through the house show circuit.

Scott: This is a nice throwaway match to give Kamala some face pops before his match with Bam Bam Bigelow at WrestleMania. I’m expecting Bigelow to win the match at Mania, because Bigelow has better long term value. The commentary carries this mess as Bobby Heenan says pet owners are weaklings who don’t want anyone to talk back to them. It keeps Reverend Slick with the company as he is Kamala’s new handler. Kamala chucks Kim Chee around and gets the pin. The match was crap but the crowd seemed to like it. Grade: DUD

JT: As we head back to the ring, Reverend Slick is out and he introduces his relatively new charge Kamala. Of course after the Ugandan Giant was buried by Undertaker at Survivor Series, things changed and he was kicked to the curb by Harvey Wippleman and Kim Chee. So, the now benevolent Slick takes him under his ring and attempts to do the Lord’s work and humanize him. After some prodding and searching by Slick, Kamala marches out and is looking to gain revenge on his former handler, a man that often mentally and physically abused him during their time together. Kamala is set to battle Bam Bam Bigelow at Mania in a battle of the bulge, so this is Kamala’s chance to put Kim Chee in his rearview mirror once and for all. Chee arrogantly saunters out and we get under way with him immediately bullying poor Kamala. He works over the monster until Kamala finally has enough and smashes him with chops and kicks. Bobby mocks pet owners as Chee comes back with a clothesline but Kamala blocks a second attempt with a bear hug. Kamala mauls Chee from there and finishes him with the big splash and then smacks him around with his own helmet after the bell. The crowd was into this but it was nothing more than a generic squash. Now, Kamala can finally move on and focus on WrestleMania where he looks to slow down the red hot Beast from the East. Grade: DUD

*** We check out a special music video set to the main track “WrestleMania” off WrestleMania: The Album. ***

*** Vince McMahon and Bobby Heenan discuss the MegaManiacs vs. Money, Inc WrestleMania match and then lead us into a video package recapping the feud. ***

4) Money, Inc. defeats Jerry Sabin & Reno Riggins via submission when Ted DiBiase locks Riggins in the Million Dollar Dream at 2:55

Scott: Is this the main event at WrestleMania? Will this be the last match on April 4. Jerry Sabin is actually Gary Sabaugh, the former “Italian Stallion” in the Crockett days. Why he changed his name back in the day is totally beyond me. Weirdo. Money, Inc. has pretty much been at the top of the tag team heap for over a year, pretty much since right after WrestleMania VIII. Does it end April 4? And again, will it be the main event? Money, Inc. wins this squash easily but I’m concerned poor Bret Hart will be shoved in the background as WWF Champion that day. Grade: DUD

JT: We are heading back to action as our Tag Team Champions head to the ring for a tussle with Jerry Sabin and Reno Riggins. Money, Inc. is slated to battle the recently returned  Hulk Hogan and Brutus Beefcake in Vegas, with the gold on the line. Ted DiBiase and IRS tortured Beefcake bad in February and that led to Jimmy Hart disowning his former charges and hooking up with his former enemies. The crowd wastes no time getting into an “Irwin” chant as Vince puts over the strength of the MegaManiacs pairing. However, Bobby wonders how rusty Hogan and Beefcake will be but Vince says despite their inexperience as a team, they will have Hart and the Hulkamaniacs in their corner. The champs dominate Sabin for a bit until Riggins comes in and eventually gets trapped in the Dream, giving Money. Inc. the win. The champs are locked in and looking to not only retain their gold but also do some permanent damage to the Maniacs in Vegas. Grade: DUD

*** After a break, the MegaManiacs and Jimmy Hart march out to the podium for a chat with Gene Okerlund. Hulk Hogan says he is aware of how destiny will take its course in Las Vegas and a few weeks back as he was sitting back at home he saw a nightmare on Monday Night Raw. Money, Inc. smashed that steel attache case into Brutus Beefcake’s face and it caused his emotions to run wild and he hopped on Beefcake’s motorcycle and rode right toward the Pacific Ocean. It was there that he heard the Hulkamaniacs praying for Brutus and his face and he was on auto pilot as he drove all the way to New York City. Seven days later, he arrived and he kicked down the door of the Ramada Inn and found Beefcake relaxing and healing his face. Hogan thanks God that Brutus was OK and Brutus says the sound of the suitcase bouncing off his face is still reverberating through his head. He and Hogan were down in Cape Canaveral testing his new titanium facemask and it held up to Hulk’s attacks. He says Money, Inc. will be heading straight to bankruptcy court and then Hart gives a tip: don’t invest in any Money, Inc. stock because they are going belly up. The MegaManiacs are looking bright and they will have all sorts of new merchandise after they leave Vegas as Tag Team Champions in just one week. Brutus spent the last few days prepping to cut some hair but DiBiase and IRS aren’t worth the effort so instead he used his steel blades on desert cacti to dull them up. But even that won’t be necessary as he will just yank the hair out of their heads instead. Hogan says he was recently fishing with his hands and pulled two hammerhead sharks out of the ocean and has them and some sea urchins and mermaids in a pool at Caesar’s Palace. He will also prop the sharks’ mouths open with the tag titles so they can’t mess with any of the beauties or Hulkamaniacs that hop in the pool. Hogan, Beefcake and Hart will be celebrating all throughout Vegas as champs and he instructs Beefcake to lotion up all the Hulkamaniac babes to ensure they have an even tan. That about does it! ***

*** We revisit the recent interactions between Tatanka and Shawn Michaels, in which the Native American pinned the Intercontinental Champion twice in non title matches. ***

5) Tatanka defeats George South with the Papoose to Go at 3:16

Scott: This George South is obviously the old NWA jobber, first because he’s old looking and second because we are in the Carolinas. Tatanka seems to be right in line to be the next Intercontinental Champion. This feud is prime for it, as Tatanka is undefeated and Shawn Michaels has been champ for quite a while. It seems like a ready made timeline for a big babyface win at WrestleMania. This squash is crap, but after the match Tatanka and Shawn Michaels start jawing with each other and Shawn stalks the steps before backing up like a good heel does. Shawn is also rocking the awesome seafoam leather IC belt. He had better colored belts than Ultimate Warrior, except for Warrior’s neon blue belt. Grade: DUD

JT: Up next, Tatanka is set to square off against old veteran George South. The Native American has been on a hot streak against Shawn Michaels and hopes to parlay that into IC gold at WrestleMania. He makes really quick work of South but then Michaels shows up and the two share some final words to build up their bout. Michaels teases coming into fight but walks off, making us all wait for Vegas. Will Tatanka be the one to finally take the gold off Michaels? He sure seems like the favorite at this point. Grade: DUD

6) Bushwhackers & Tiger Jackson defeat Beverly Brothers & Little Louie when Jackson pins Louie with  high cross body at 9:57

Fun Fact I: In late 1992, Tiger Jackson signed with the WWF and began teaming with the Bushwackers in their feud with the Beverly Brothers. The Brothers followed suit soon after and picked up Little Louie to even to odds.

Fun Fact II: Claude Giroux was born in Quebec, Canada in 1956. He began his wrestling career in the late 70s after being trained by Little Brutus and Sky Low Low. His initially wrestled under the name Tiger Jackson and traveled through the NWA territories, Puerto Rico and Germany as a midget wrestler. He also wrestled in the WWF in the early 80s, sometimes teaming with his brother Lionel Giroux, who wrestled under the name Little Beaver. Later in his WWF run, he soon began imitating full-sized wrestlers, a practice that was common for midget wrestlers in Mexico. His first imitation was that of the Macho Midget. The character he is most known for came from pairing him with Doink as Dink the Clown. He would remain with Doink into 1995 before the character was slowly phased out.

Fun Fact III: Little Louie (real name Louis Waterhouse) is an American midget wrestler. He wrestled for Vincent J. McMahon back in the mid-70s in the WWWF as well as other promotions when midget wrestlers were more common. 

Scott: Why the hell are there midgets in this match? Can’t the Beverlys and outdated Bushwhackers just have a match without all this other nonsense? Vince & Bobby spend most of this match going over the WrestleMania card and not talking much about the crap going on in the ring. They’re even talking about the entrances of the commentators at WrestleMania, like Gorilla Monsoon on an elephant and who the Vestial Virgins will carry to the ring. Seriously, of all the matches that had to go close to ten minutes, this was the one? Skinner & Mr. Perfect couldn’t go ten minutes? Sometimes I bang my head against the desk wondering what Vince is thinking when he lays out which matches go longer than others. Finally this mess ends, and just because the Beverlys are a decent team, I won’t totally flunk it. Grade: 1/2*

JT: Time for some comedy, it seems. This really makes no sense as none of these guys will be at WrestleMania and it kills the flow of what has been a really focused show this far. We have been full on locked in on Mania and showcased all the stars that will be in Vegas. This is just completely out of left field. The Bushwhackers are so dated and it amazes me that they are still milling around. The Beverlys are really damn good but they have been beaten up to the point of being complete non factors in the division. As for Little Louie and Tiger Jackson, whatever. We get the usual antics and nonsense in the ring, which the crowd enjoys well enough I guess. Vince and Bobby spend this ten minutes (!) hyping up the Mania card and everything else that will take place in Caesar’s Palace as well as the Hotline, which I guess was an admirable enough idea. Jackson eventually catches Louie with a high cross body and picks up the win. Let’s just move on. Grade: 1/2*

*** We review a video package recapping the history between Undertaker and Giant Gonzalez. ***

7) Undertaker defeats Bam Bam Bigelow via count-out at 7:39

Scott: This is our final match and the one I was most looking forward to. Two big hosses, and Bigelow will make Taker’s offense look pretty good. This turned out to be a fun brawl as both guys are throwing bombs in and around the ring with the crowd really getting into it after the bad squashes we’ve dealt with. Taker takes all of Bigelow’s offense but eventually the Deadman does drop him with a chokeslam. Instead of getting pinned, Bigelow rolls out of the ring and gets counted out. Crap ending but it’s to protect both guys, plus as the segment ended, Giant Gonzalez and Harvey Whippleman come out of the tunnel and we get a nice staredown and a stalking up the ramp. The match was decent but at least the builds on this show have been really good. Grade: **

JT: We head back down to the ring for our final match of the night as the Undertaker is slated to battle the rising heel Bam Bam Bigelow. Bigelow returned to the WWF in late 1992 and has been rolling since, a roll he looks to continue against Kamala at WrestleMania. Across the ring, Undertaker is preparing for a daunting challenge as he has to figure out a way to take out the massive Giant Gonzalez. Gonzalez wiped out Taker back at the Royal Rumble and has barley been touched since in the few matches he has had. Bobby thinks this match was a big mistake for Taker as he knows Bigelow will be able to soften him up. Bigelow shows no fear at all, going right at Taker and laying in some hard right hands. Taker side steps a charge and takes Bigelow down and then mauls his face, sending Bammer to the floor to regroup. Bigelow comes right back with some power strikes and headbutts but he drops his head and Taker plants him with a DDT. Taker chokes away as Vince and Bobby hype both men’s Mania matches. Taker keeps bringing the fight to Bigelow, cracking him with right hands and then crashing into him with a blow off the top rope. Bigelow would duck a leaping clothesline and after a break, continued to control the Deadman both in and out of the ring. Bigelow would slam Taker on the floor and shoot him into the steps and then back inside, took him over with a tight back suplex but the Deadman would not stay down. Bigelow slammed Taker and dropped a headbutt on him but Taker again sat up. Bammer stayed cool and hammered away, unloading all of his offense without slowing down at all, but Taker just kept on coming. Bigelow kicked Taker back down and dropped another falling headbutt and then found enough of a window to head to the top rope. However, as he cruised off with his headbutt, Taker sat up and Bammer crashed hard to the mat. Taker pushed to his feet and leveled Bigelow with a clothesline and then dropped him with a chokeslam, but Bigelow was able to roll to the floor and walk off, happy to survive and take the count out loss. As Taker regrouped in the ring, Giant Gonzalez and Harvey Wippleman showed up in the aisle, leading to a staredown between the two monsters. This was a really fun power match with a hot atmosphere. Bigelow’s power offense attack was quite impressive here and I loved how aggressive both men were. It was well executed and with a few more minutes and a hot finish, this could have been a bit of a hidden gem. As is, it established both guys as strong and closes out the show on a good note. Grade: **

*** The show wraps up with a special Bret Hart highlight video set to Aretha Franklin’s Respect. ***

Final Analysis

Scott: Even though most of the matches were average crap (including that midget six man mess that should have been shorter than it was) the build to all the huge matches at WrestleMania went swimmingly. The bonkers promo that the MegaManiacs cut made the show, even though I have no idea what Hulk Hogan was talking about. I’m curious as to how this show will be laid out. Will the Bret/Yoko match be last because it’s for the World Title, or the Tag Title match because well…it’s Hulk Hogan. That Taker/Gonzalez match is a strong visual, but I can’t imagine it being very good. I like the prospect for Luger/Perfect but it depends where on the card it is. Vince and Bobby didn’t work as much together as they should have but this was a perfect snapshot of Bobby at his aggravating best. Not all go-home WWF specials go off this well, so don’t get used to it. But I have figured out that the matches are fill, and the fill is not what’s important. Final Grade: B

JT: This was a pretty solid hype show for WrestleMania as we had focus on all of the big matches and showcased most of the competitors. We saw quick hit package recaps of the feuds and some good promos and interviews as well. The commentary was really well focused too, hitting all the key points of each match in Vegas. Oh, and that MegaManiacs promo… my Lord, what was Hogan talking about? Iconic. The in ring lacked severely here as it was a parade of squashes until a fun power battle between Undertaker and Bam Bam Bigelow wrapped us up. But, on these shows that never is really all that important. The key is giving a successful final hard sell for the PPV. I was surprised that, despite the well done music video, Bret Hart was absent, not even delivering a promo, but other than this covered all the bases in an easy, succinct way. See you in Vegas! Final Grade: B