*** Scott & Justin’s Vintage Vault Refresh reviews are a chronological look back at WWE PPV 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! ***
WrestleMania IX: Panic at the Palace
April 4, 1993
Las Vegas, Nevada
Buy Rate: 2.0
Announcers: Jim Ross, Randy Savage, and Bobby Heenan
1) Tito Santana pinned Papa Shango in 8:00
Fun Fact: At this show we get the debut of a new announcer that in time will become the voice of the WWF during its heyday. While in college, Jim Ross spent time commentating on college radio. With this experience he was given his first job in wrestling as a sideline commentator when an announcer wasn’t able to show up for the night. He began his in-ring work as a referee in the Mid-South territory in 1974. When Bill Watts bought the territory in 1982, this would become Ross’ home, where he became their lead commentator as well as the VP of Marketing. Ross joined on with Jim Crockett Promotions when the territory (then renamed the Universal Wrestling Federation) was bought out in April, 1987. He worked his way up the ladder in JCP, starting out as a color commentator and working his way up to head of broadcasting after the promotion left the NWA and became World Championship Wrestling or WCW. In 1992 he began having issues with WCW’s newest commentator, Eric Bischoff, who reported to Ross initially. When Bischoff was promoted to Executive Producer in early 1993, Ross asked for and was granted his release from WCW. He was under a three year contract with WCW, but took an immediate buyout so he could find a broadcasting position elsewhere. The WWF hired Ross and he makes his broadcasting debut here at WrestleMania IX.
Fun Fact II: Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Kamala was originally scheduled for this card but did not occur due to time constraints.
1) Tatanka defeats Shawn Michaels by count-out at 18:13; Michaels retains the Intercontinental Title
Fun Fact: This the first time WrestleMania opened up with a title match of any kind. Also, this is Shawn Michaels’ third straight Wrestlemania opener. He teamed with Marty Jannetty to knock off Haku and Barbarian at WrestleMania VII and defeated Tito Santana at WrestleMania VIII.
Fun Fact II: This will be Sensational Sherri’s final WWF PPV appearance. She would remain with the company into the summer and was embroiled in a vicious feud with newcomer Luna Vachon. She would go on to WCW in 1994, first acting as a manager for Ric Flair and then moving on to Harlem Heat, who she’d lead to multiple Tag Team Titles as Sister Sherri. She was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2006, but sadly passed away on June 15, 2007 at the much too young age of 49.
Fun Fact III: Leading up to this match, Tatanka was riding an undefeated streak coming into WrestleMania. Shawn was still in the midst of the lover’s feud with Sensational Sherri, where she would come out in the corner of whoever was wrestling Shawn. Tatanka had already pinned Michaels twice prior to this match, once in a non-title affair on 1/25, which led to the announcement of this title match, and once in a six-man tag match on 2/22.
Fun Fact IV: This match includes the debut of a new female wrestler, Luna Vachon, who accompanies Shawn Michaels to the ring. Luna is the daughter of Paul “Butcher” Vachon. Luna began her wrestling career in the mid 80s in Moolah’s all-women wrestling promotion before moving on to Florida Championship Wrestling. Her trademark persona was formed while in Florida. She came into the promotion as a reporter named Trudy Herd who was there to given Kendall Windham an award. A fight broke out during the interview where she was knocked unconscious by Kevin Sullivan. She was driven mad by Sullivan’s treatment of her and she would join his Army of Darkness stable under the new name Luna Vachon.
Fun Fact V: This is the PPV debut of Shawn Michaels singing his theme song, “Sexy Boy”.
Scott: Before we begin with the match, let’s take note of a historic entrance theme moment. Shawn Michaels comes out to his theme “Sexy Boy”, but instead of Sherri singing it like she had before he’s singing it this time. This theme would be used by Shawn for the rest of his career and beyond. Michaels’ first PPV title defense was a fun match against his former tag team partner. Now here he opens the biggest show of the year against the undefeated up and coming Native American. The build has been good, as Tatanka has beaten Michaels in a non-title singles match and pinned the champ in a six-man tag match as well. The job for this match is to get the crowd fired up immediately. Tatanka definitely gets his shots in as Michaels takes a pretty good beating early but recovers to dictate things in the middle of the match. The fact that this is over 18 minutes means the bookers really counted on these guys to get things going and highlight the first half of the show. The other half of the story is what’s going on outside the ring. Sensational Sherri comes back to corner Tatanka vs. her former Sexy Boy, while Michaels has the debuting Luna Vachon in his corner. Bobby Heenan is getting all the history in about Vachon and her wrestling relatives. The latter portion of the match sees a series of close finishes that get the crowd crazy. Finally Michaels is counted out, and after Tatanka hits his finisher the referee calls for the bell. The title stays with Michaels, and he’s also 2 for 2 in PPV title matches. We get some after match fun when Luna and Sherri go at it. That feud continues after this show. This match was a lot of fun and the crowd really got into it. Grade: ***1/2
Justin: My, my how time flies as we have already arrived at our ninth WrestleMania. We have had some unique looking shows, but this may be the most innovative and cool looking to date. Set outside at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, the WWF went all out in making this a full on Roman Empire theme. All ringside personnel were donning togas and the entire set fit the ancient theme. It was a really neat concept and was executed perfectly, right down to the extravagant entrances of Caeser & Cleopatra and the announce team. And speaking of our announcers, we have a brand new play-by-play man in longtime voice of the UWF and WCW, Jim Ross. Ross made a surprise debut here and is joined by Bobby Heenan and Randy Savage, who was also making his PPV commentary debut. Right out of the gate we have gold on the line as Intercontinental Champion Shawn Michaels is set for another tough challenge in Tatanka. The Native American is still undefeated with a streak edging ever thirteen months now. He also had picked up two non title wins on the champ heading in, so he had momentum. Michaels is accompanied by newcomer Luna Vachon but he barely acknowledges her and it almost seems like she just randomly wandered out with him. She is countered by Sensational Sherri, who is in Tatanka’s corner as she still is looking for revenge on her former boy toy. The arena and ring really looked awesome here, the ring was bathed in sun with not a cloud in the sky and buttressed by giant yellow columns that blended well with the black and yellow ropes. We would get some feeling out early on with each man working holds and trading reversals. Tatanka hit the first big blow with a back suplex and controlled the action off that. After being dumped to the floor, Michaels really had to battle to fight his way back in, but once he got there he started to land some sustained offense for the first time in the match, but it was short lived. Tatanka would continue to work the shoulder, thwarting every Michaels comeback attempt and continuously wrenching in an armbar to keep the pressure on. Tatanka took to the air and hit a nice chop off the top tope, but he tried a second and ate a Michaels boot as a result. Michaels was pretty methodical on offense, taking his time as he tried to regain his strength while also grounding his challenger. The pace picked up as Tatanka made a comeback but ran himself out of it by whiffing on an elbow drop. Michaels started to lay the wood, but Tatanka was feeling it and started his war dance, rallying the crowd up as he landed some chops and a high cross body for a close near fall. He would pick up another two count on a really good powerslam but ended up on the floor thanks to Luna opening the ropes on him. Michaels took an unnecessary risk by leaping out to the floor and coming up empty. Before heading back in the ring, Michaels blatantly shoved down the referee. Inside, Tatanka hit the Papoose to Go but the ref called for the DQ due to Michaels’ actions on the floor. Bah, a weak finish just when the match was really getting hot and the crowd being sucked in. I mean, I get it, Tatanka had to remain undefeated and they didn’t want Michaels to lose yet, but it was a tough one to swallow based on how nicely the match built to the finish. After the bell, Luna kicked the shit out of Sherri before scampering off to the back, kicking off their feud. I liked the match overall, it was nothing spectacular but it was well worked and made sense with good psychology and limb work. Tatanka looked strong and really had Michaels off balance throughout and did a nice job heating up the crowd down the stretch. Good stuff until the finish, but Michaels escapes with his gold once again. Grade: **1/2
2) The Steiners Brothers defeat The Headshrinkers when Scott Steiner pins Samu with a Frankensteiner at 14:21
Fun Fact: This is both teams’ only WrestleMania appearance. The only wrestler in the ring who would appear at another WrestleMania is Fatu.
Scott: This match could be considered a #1 contenders match for the tag team titles. The Steiners have been hot on Raw with their squashes and their definitely over with the crowd. Their match at the Royal Rumble was a little choppy and not that great. Here they take on a different kind of brawling team that may fit with their style a little more. I loved Samu and Fatu when they were the Samoan Swat Team, but in this instance I can understand Vince changing their name. That’s probably a little too hardcore for this audience, plus they didn’t change their style in the ring. Sure they added one of the Wild Samoans as their manager, but it still doesn’t take away that they’re a good heel team that is moving up the company’s ranks. This match though, doesn’t show that solid heel brawling style as Rick and Scott don’t engage them as much and there was a lot of slow plodding action outside the ring. These guys were given a lot of time here but unlike the previous match the pace made it seem so much longer. The announcing team of Jim Ross (making his PPV debut), Randy Savage and Bobby Heenan has a certain amount of chemistry but there are times it sounds forced, Savage in particular. The psychology in this match is terrible, as the Steiners keep trying to perform moves to the Headshrinkers’ heads, like headbutts. That’s pretty dumb and the Shrinkers take control back. The Steiners recover late, and for the second PPV in a row Scott Steiner almost kills his opponent by hitting a sloppy Frankensteiner on Samu. Someone needs to tell him that move isn’t smart anymore. The match is average and could have been better. Grade: **
Justin: I find it fitting that Jim Ross makes his PPV debut on a show featuring this match, as it was set up to be a stiff smashmouth war, which is right in his wheelhouse. Both teams have been rolling in 1993 and were heavily featured on TV leading in, even though there was no real angle or build to it. Scott and Fatu kicked things off with a pretty standard series of holds, but even those were delivered with extra mustard, including a stiff Scott shoulderblock. The Headshrinkers would turn things around thanks to Afa getting involved, but the Steiners quickly recovered and hit stereo top rope clotheslines to both Samu and Fatu, sending them careening to the floor. Scott worked over Samu some more, taking him over with a nice double underhook suplex, but things turned very quickly when Samu caught a changing Scott, stumbled back and just sent him flying over the top to the floor. That looked like a botched stun gun but Fatu did hook the rope so maybe it was by design; either way it was a nasty bump. Scott would catch a beating from there thanks to an array of headbutts and double team strikes. Samu pushed things a bit and tried a top rope dive, but Scott dodged it and was able to tag out. And business picked up. Rick tossed slams and clotheslines out left and right but made a mistake by trying to ram their heads together. That never works, Rick! The Shrinkers would land their double facebuster on Rick and tried for a Doomsday Device but Rick caught Samu in midair and turned it into a belly-to-belly off Fatu’s shoulders. Great spot, albeit scary and sloppy. Scott would regain his composure and hit Fatu with a belly-to-belly before eating a Samu thrust kick. Scott fought that off and hit an ugly Frankensteiner for the win. Samu basically slipped out on the way over and crash landed in a heap. He may have to give that one up soon. I can’t say the match was as hard hitting or crisp as I was anticipating, but it was still fun at times. The heat segment was a bit long and plodding until it picked up in the final minutes. Grade: **
3) Doink pins Crush after interference from Doink II at 8:24
Fun Fact: This is Doink’s first pay-per view match. For months, Doink had been hanging around in the aisles at WWF events, entertaining kids and playing practical jokes on wrestlers. Eventually, though, his jokes got malicious, and he ended up blinding the Big Boss Man. Well, on one Superstars in January 1993, Doink was messing around with Crush, and when they shook hands, Crush twisted Doink’s arm extremely hard sending the clown scurrying to the dressing room. The next week, Doink showed up again, this time with his arm in a cast. When Crush came out, Doink shook his hand and laughed off the previous week’s encounter. However, when Crush turned around, Doink ripped off the arm in the sling and started pounding Crush with it. When the scene cleared, Doink was gone, Crush was unconscious and the arm was torn open and it was discovered to be filled with batteries. Crush left to sell the injury angle, and his first match back was this one, his first WrestleMania bout as a singles competitor.
Fun Fact II: Since losing to Ricky Steamboat at the first WrestleMania, Matt Borne spent some time in World Class and then toiled around WCW as Big Josh before being called up to take on this very interesting role in late 1992.
Scott: This is one of those feuds you take with a grain of salt. Doink, originally just a goofy castoff character, is one of my favorite heels of all time. A sadistic, evil clown is a fantastic character that borders between goofy and innovative. Crush is another babyface that the WWF wants to push to the forefront. That’s why I thought it was a forgone conclusion that Crush was winning this match and maybe was on the fast track to a title match with Shawn Michaels down the line. The match is a basic plodding strike-based match. Crush dominates most of it with his power and countering Doink’s moves. Then the silly ending. Crush clotheslines Doink to the outside, then comes back into the ring and Crush is about hit the head vise. Doink gets to the ropes, then “accidentally” knocks out the referee. Crush then gets the vise on Doink, when out of nowhere a second Doink comes from under the ring and smacks Crush with the loaded arm cast. Doink awakens the referee and gets the victory. I’m kind of stumped here. I’m not sure where this character was going, but the result pretty much stunts Crush’s momentum. The match isn’t much, and the ending was a surprise. Grade: *1/2
Justin: After weeks and weeks of lurking in the aisles, Doink finally struck with a big blow in January when he bashed Crush with a battery stocked cast, putting him on the shelf for a couple of months. This is Crush’s first match back and it seemed like a no-brainer that he would squish the Clown and move on to bigger things. He really did have a great look and the fans loved the big man, so it seemed certain he would be elevated sooner than later. Doink’s entrance was pretty good, mainly thanks to his badass music. On the surface, this was a goof character, but once you saw what it was about you fell in love right away. An evil clown that wreaked havoc on everyone and could tear it up in the ring? Gold. Crush was out for pure revenge early, pounding on Doink on the floor, using the post and ring apron. Doink tried to fire back but it was useless as Crush just marched through it and kept pouring it on. Doink was finally able to snap Crush’s neck across the top rope and he quickly pounced from there, scaling the top rope multiple times and slamming into Crush with right hands. That was followed by a nice piledriver. I loved when the face paint would start to come off as it made him look even more demented. Doink shrugged off a boot to the face but another trip to the buckles was a mistake as Crush caught him with a powerslam. Crush followed with a clothesline to the floor and Doink tried to escape under the ring but the big man dragged him back in the ring. A moment later, Crush spiked him with a military press and locked in the cranium crunch, but Doink got to the ropes and it led to a ref bump. Back outside, Doink again tried to get under the ring but Crush blocked him a second time. Back in the ring they went and Crush attempted to hook the crunch again, but as he did, a second Doink came in and bashed Crush with a loaded cast. A few cast shots later and Doink picked up the big upset WrestleMania to win to a surprising pop. The image of the two Doinks mimicking each other is a great Mania moment. Heenan was awesome here, saying the whole thing was an illusion and there was only one Doink the whole time. A second referee came out and they searched under the ring but no double Doink could be found. I was really shocked by this at the time, as I didn’t see the mileage in Doink and figured Crush was owed a win, but this was really well booked and made a lot of sense. Doink could be hot as a heel and having him bust out these sinister tricks was a good direction to head. The match was slow and didn’t have much to offer but the finish and illusion were really good. Grade: *
4) Razor Ramon pins Bob Backlund with a small package in 3:45
Fun Fact: This is Bob Backlund’s first ever PPV singles match.
Scott: This is a very unusual combination for a WrestleMania. First off, I know we saw Backlund at the Royal Rumble but I didn’t think that he was sticking around for any kind of push. Backlund still had a lot of credibility in the ring but even this crowd is probably puzzled. Razor is a red hot heel right now and you’d think he would have a more credible and relevant opponent than a guy who hadn’t been in the WWF in almost nine years. Then the match is barely four minutes, which also is puzzling. Other than a chance to get Razor Ramon on the show, there’s really no other reason for this match to be booked. Is there anybody else on the roster that Razor could have had a good match with? How about Owen Hart? Owen was attacked by Razor to boost the Razor/Bret match at the Rumble, so why not Owen looking to get revenge here on the big stage? Instead we get a Raw/Superstars quality match and four minutes of fill. Very strange. Grade: **
Justin: After failing to win the WWF Title back in January, Razor Ramon has slipped down the card a bit, tossed into a throwaway match here that had zero build. Bob Backlund also had a strong showing in Sacramento and had slowly been working his way up the ladder. In retrospect, the finish here seems pretty obvious, but at the time it was a toss up as both men seemed in line for a push. The crowd has turned a bit here, first by rooting on Doink and now by clearly and loudly being behind the Bad Guy. Backlund tripped up Razor a few times, but power took over and Razor slammed Backlund down hard to the mat before laying in some stiff slaps to the face. Backlund came back with a perfect double underhook float over suplex and an atomic drop. He would go for a scoop slam, but Ramon dropped down and locked in a small package to steal the win. Man, these guys had a lot more left in the tank. That was a compressed version of what could have been a really fun match. The crowd sure liked the finish though, potentially a sign of things to come? Backlund takes the tough loss and as Heenan said, “he beat the wrestler with wrestling!” Grade: *
5) Money Inc. defeats the Mega-Maniacs to retain WWF Tag Team Titles by disqualification at 18:36
Fun Fact: In early February, Brutus Beefcake announced that he was returning to the ring after a three year layoff due to a parasailing injury. The only problem was that Beefcake’s face was still a little fragile, so he had wear a big metal mask on his face as protection. Beefcake announced that in his first match back, he would take on any competitor. The first man to step up to the plate was Ted DiBiase. The two men argued face to face on Raw, and the match was signed for two weeks later. Over those next two weeks of programming, Jimmy Hart kept expressing his concern to DiBiase that this was a bad idea due to Beefcake’s facial injuries. DiBiase blew him off, and the match was on. Beefcake held his own throughout the match, and eventually won by DQ when IRS interfered. After the match, DiBiase and Schyster began brutalizing Beefcake with IRS’ Halliburton. Jimmy Hart tried to help Beefcake, but IRS shoved him out of the ring. Finally, IRS drilled Beefcake in his face with the briefcase, sending the Barber down in excruciating pain. That Raw ended with a shot of the bloody mat where Beefcake had been writhing in pain. The next week on WWF Challenge, cryptic messages about Hulk Hogan’s imminent return were made, and the next night on Raw, there he was. Hulk Hogan returned after one year off and he and Beefcake challenged Money, Inc. for the titles at WrestleMania, giving us a second straight WrestleMania with an advertised double main event.
Fun Fact II: This match was originally supposed to be the blow-off to the Money, Inc/Nasty Boys feud, but Knobbs and Sags were taken off the show for Hogan and Beefcake. The Nasty Boys would leave by May and would return to WCW, where they would spend the rest of their careers. The whole thing is sort of ironic, as it was just two years earlier that the Nasties jumped from WCW and reportedly screwed up the scheduled push of Power and Glory heading in WrestleMania VI.
Fun Fact III: This is Brutus Beefcake’s final PPV appearance. He would stick around until the summer, where he would wrestle on the tour of Europe. His final WWF match was on August 6, defeating Terry Taylor. He resurfaced in WCW in 1994 alongside Hogan. He would eventually turn on Hogan, and compete in a number of gimmicks, including the Butcher, the Man with No Name, the Zodiac, and the Booty Man. He would join the nWo for a little while as the Disciple, and was the only other member of the One Warrior Nation before his departure from WCW in late 1998. He later appeared on Hulk Hogan’s Celebrity Championship Wrestling as a trainer. He would relocate to the Boston area and manage of a Planet Fitness club. His final record is 7-3-3, going 3-0 at Survivor Series, 1-0 at SummerSlam, 0-1-1 at the Rumble, and 3-2-2 at WrestleMania.
Fun Fact IV: Hulk Hogan showed up to this match with a very badly damaged black eye. There are multiple rumors floating around, ranging from Hogan getting banged up in an accident while working out to the Hulkster getting into a fight with Randy Savage that ended with Macho Man decking him in the face. The storyline explanation was that Money, Inc. jumped him while working out, damaging his eye in the process.
Scott: The first half of our double main event pits our tag team champions against the returning hero of the Federation Era. Hulk Hogan comes out with a black eye and to this day the speculation continues how he got it. Some say it was a water skiing accident, others say he and Randy Savage got into a fight at the Caesars gym. Regardless he comes out to face his old nemesis Ted DiBiase, only this time the Million Dollar Man is the one with the gold. This centered on Hogan’s buddy Brutus Beefcake getting assaulted by Money Inc, which included a Halliburton shot to Beefer’s reconstructed face. At the time I thought this was a one shot deal, as the main event scene seemed to be filled with the newcomers on the roster. To be put in the mid-show main event, and a tag team match no doubt, made me think Hogan was a temporary thing to spike the buyrates for this show. It was really weird seeing Jimmy Hart as the babyface manager here, wearing a jacket with Hogan painted on the back of it. As for the match itself, I used to not like it at all. It seemed to be dated for the freshness of the rest of the show, but watching it again the crowd is indeed into it and after a few slow moments and after Money Inc tried to walk out of the match but were threatened with losing the titles anyway the match picked up. Heenan’s “face-off” comments when referring to Beefcake’s face always makes me chuckle. The match has a crazed, frenetic feel to it, but it ends with a disqualification win for Money Inc? That’s bizarre. I maybe wasn’t expecting the Mega-Maniacs to win the titles but at least win it by countout or disqualification. The ending aside, I like this match much more than I used to. It’s not five stars, but it’s entertaining and it keeps the crowd really geeked through the middle of this show. Hogan leaves, perhaps for good. At the time we weren’t sure of his future, but it was smart for he and Beefcake not to win the titles. There were plenty of tag teams that deserve to be in the #1 contenders slot, and Hogan & Beefcake was not one of them. Grade: **1/2
Justin: A year after what was setup as Hulk Hogan’s final WrestleMania match, he returns to the card in an interesting spot. After Money, Inc tried to wreck Brutus Beefcake’s face again, Hogan decided it was time to come back and help his buddy get some payback. During the fracas, Jimmy Hart saw the light and decided to finally renounce his evil ways and take his place at Hogan’s lap as his hypeman and manager. This was a pretty good use of the tag titles, as Money, Inc were legit enough to make the leap up to this spot without feeling like they were in over their heads. As soon as this match was announced, it slid into “Co-Main Event” status and many wondered if Hogan would close the show. The fact that this match was in the middle probably should have sounded some sort of alarm bell that something was up. The Vegas fans were certainly into Hogan and Beefcake as they marched down the aisle and fought off an immediate Money, Inc attack. Beefcake’s facemask is a bit absurd here, but I would expect nothing less. As noted above, Hogan had a bad black eye here and it is played up that the tag champs jumped him while working out and dinged him up. The champs went to work on Beefcake, but DiBiase tried to drop an axe handle on Beefer’s face and it backfired thanks to the steel mask. Beefcake went to town before tagging in Hogan, who stepped foot into a WWF ring for active televised competition for the first time since his tussle with Sid a year ago. The champs could not get on track as the Mega-Maniacs kept the pressure on, looking quite unbeatable. After a few frustrating minutes, DiBiase and IRS started to walk away but the referee revealed that he decided a deliberate countout would mean new champions, forcing the champs to charge back into the ring. A shot to Hogan’s throat would slow the challengers down and DiBiase and IRS would dig deep into their bag of heel tricks to maintain control. DiBiase would hook in the Million Dollar Dream but thanks to IRS inadvertently tying up the ref, Beefcake snuck in and put DiBiase to sleep as well. That was really hokey. Hogan would make the tag and Beefcake cleaned house until DiBiase bashed Beefcake in the back with the briefcase. From there, we entered our second heat segment, with the champs grinding the match back down to a halt. As the beating went on, the steel mask was yanked off, and the champs started to target the restructured face, adding some drama to the match for the first time.
Beefcake would land a double clothesline but instead of tagging out, Beefcake hooked the sleeper on IRS. That allowed DiBiase to crank him from behind, wiping the ref out in the process. A moment later, both men tagged out, leading to Hogan hammering on DiBiase. Hogan and Beefcake would put both men down with the briefcase and cover, leading to Jimmy Hart hopping in the ring and turning his jacket inside out to reveal referee stripes. He counted three and handed his men the belts, but this clearly wasn’t going to fly. A second referee came out and raised the hands of the champions, calling the match a DQ. Well, that was weak. And a surprise in a night filled with them. The champs would take off as Hogan and Beefcake threatened the referee, capped by Hart slinging him to the floor. Hogan and Beefcake would celebrate their loss, by posing for a while and emptying the briefcase to expose a brick and some cash, leaving a bad taste in everyone’s mouths. And again, alarm bells should have been sounding that Hogan probably wasn’t finished after such a pedestrian match and…loss, just his second in Mania history. The match really just wasn’t good and was filled with goofy comedy spots that felt dated even in 1993. If anything it felt like an extended Saturday Night’s Main Event tag match. I am glad the titles didn’t switch, as that rub should go to a tag team that would be sticking around. Because as we soon find out, this one wasn’t going to be. Grade: *1/2
6) Lex Luger pins Mr. Perfect with a backslide at 10:56
Fun Fact: This is Mr. Perfect’s final WrestleMania match.
Fun Fact II: Lex Luger was brought in by Bobby Heenan to take out Mr. Perfect after Perfect had turned his back on Heenan. Perfect would also rub salt in the wounds of the Brain by beating Ric Flair in a “Loser Leaves WWF match” the night after the Royal Rumble. Flair would stick around and fulfill house show agreements into February before heading back to WCW, where he would return to TV less than a month after his Raw loss.
Fun Fact III: Lex Luger was trained by Hiro Matsuda and cut his teeth in Florida. He was a heel under Kevin Sullivan and won his first title on November 19, 1985 when he defeated Wahoo McDaniel for the Southern Heavyweight Title. After feuding with Jesse Barr and Bad News Allen, as well as winning PWI’s Rookie of the Year in 1986 he went to the Mid-Atlantic region in 1987 and was immediately placed as a member of the vaunted Four Horsemen with Ric Flair, Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard. His career blossomed there, winning the US Heavyweight Title as well as engaging in a high profile World Title feud with Flair. Luger eventually won the WCW World Title in 1991 when it was vacated after Ric Flair left for the WWF. He held it until February 1992, when he dropped it to Sting. Vince McMahon scooped Luger shortly after and held him in the doomed World Bodybuilding Federation until his no-compete clause ran out. He made an appearance at the Royal Rumble in January and made his in-ring debut on the February 1 RAW, defeating Jason Knight.
Scott: Our next encounter pits a WWF mainstay against the new heel superstar on the block. Luger debuted his “Narcissist” character at the Royal Rumble, and from there took on jobbers to set up this battle with the other “perfect” character. 1993 could have been a big year for Curt Hennig, and it could have started by winning the Rumble in January. A Bret Hart/Mr. Perfect rematch would have been a bankable main event, and for the WWF Title no less. Well that didn’t happen, and Perfect has to carry this million dollar body, twenty bucks of talent superstar. Luger works Perfect over with shots to the back, which is solid psychology considering why Perfect didn’t wrestle throughout late-91 and all of 1992. They consistently used Luger’s forearm of steel as a heel weapon, which includes an incident the announcers keep mentioning that Luger attacked Bret Hart at the “Biceps & Bagels” brunch that morning. The match isn’t too bad, but with some Luger chicanery he steals the victory. Then he knocks Perfect out with his loaded forearm. A cheap win for the heel Luger. That doesn’t stop though, as Perfect chases Luger to the back where Perfect ends up being ambushed by Shawn Michaels. Interesting. The match is average, but storyline advancement is the more important aspect. Grade: **
Justin: Back at the Royal Rumble, Lex Luger made his PPV debut and immediately issued a threat to Mr. Perfect on behalf of his associate Bobby Heenan. The two did not have much interaction on television, but their match was set for here and had a lot of hype and anticipation for it. They seemingly matched up well and it seemed like a natural fit. And…hache mache! Luger is accompanied by a few scantily clad women, each of whom holds up a mirror for Lex to pose in. It was definitely one of the best entrances of the show. The crowd was red hot for Mr. Perfect, giving him arguably the biggest welcome so far. After some feeling out, Perfect struck first, rattling Luger with knee lifts and a dropkick. Perfect would break him down and start working over the knee and leg. Luger would overpower Perfect eventually, sending him flying into the corner and setting him up to target the lower back, both in and out of the ring. Perfect snuck in a couple of near falls, but each time Luger just powered out of them. Perfect started to punch and chop Lex, stopping him short anytime he came near. Perfect sent him into the buckles with a slingshot and topped that off with a big right hand, but there didn’t seem to be any sense of urgency to this one, by either man. A sloppy Perfect missile dropkick would get another near fall, but moments later, Luger blocked a Perfect backslide and hit one of his own to grab the win, despite Perfect’s feet being in the ropes. This one just never got going and felt like it was perpetually in first gear, which is surprising given the caliber talent out there in a big spot. After the bell, Luger drilled Perfect with his loaded forearm, leaving him out cold. It made sense for Luger to grab the win and stay undefeated, but it has become a theme here tonight with a lot of heels going over. Another disappointing outing in a series of them on this show. Grade: **
*** Perfect follows Luger backstage and finds him talking to Shawn Michaels. As Perfect goes at Luger, Michaels attacked him from behind and dumped a trash can full of lumber directly on his head. He landed some more stomps in until officials pulled them apart. ***
7) Undertaker defeats Giant Gonzalez by disqualification at 7:30
Fun Fact: Jorge Gonzales was an Argentinean basketball player who was drafted by the Atlanta Hawks in 1988, a team that at the time was owned by WCW owner Ted Turner. Gonzales knees were too wrecked for the physical NBA style of basketball, but Turner wanted to help him out, so taking advantage of his size he moved him over to his wrestling company and dubbed him El Gigante. He was a babyface in some mid-to higher mid card feuds. Gigante would hang around in WCW into 1992 and also had a run in New Japan. Eventually, Vince McMahon came calling and signed him up. Gonzales debuted at the Royal Rumble, where he attacked and eliminated the Undertaker as revenge for his new manager Harvey Wippleman. There wouldn’t be much interaction between the two otherwise, but Gonzalez did make his presence known on TV by wiping out jobbers and cleaning house during a Raw battle royal that he wasn’t invited to participate in.
Scott: I was really trying to wrap my head around this match, and I…just can’t. The almost four-year stretch of Taker having to face big imposing guys (talent not required) continues as he takes on the former Atlanta Hawks draft pick, complete with furry man-suit. Well the fur was just painted on here. Going into this match I couldn’t even imagine how this match was going to be worked. Gonzalez spends most of this match simply throwing Taker across the ring over and over and some awful chinlock submission holds. The Deadman really doesn’t throw much in the way of offense in this match, as it seems like the psychology is that the bigger Gonzalez can’t defeat the Deadman with sustained offense, even if the pounding is constant. Sadly, the heel that’s supposed to dictate the match is horrendous in the ring so the match is sloppy and unwatchable. We then get the absurd disqualification when Gonzalez knocks Undertaker out with chloroform. Chloroform? What the hell? Easily one of the stupidest endings of a match I’ve ever seen. Gonzalez mangles officials while they try to drag the unconscious Taker out of the ring. This segment is going on entirely too long, with the crowd even chanting for Hogan during the conclusion. Taker finally gets up and we’re finished. Of course this feud isn’t finished, and that’s…unfortunate. Poor Deadman. Grade: 1/2*
Justin: In another feud that was kicked off at the Rumble, the Undertaker looks to conquer the newest monster thrown in front of him and he also looks to once again destroy Harvey Wippleman’s dreams and hopes. The newly dubbed Giant Gonzalez stalks to the ring and his body suit no longer has actual fur on it, but instead it is just drawn on. Randy Savage really lost it at this point, flipping out about Luger knocking out both Perfect and Bret Hart in the same day and threatening to beat the shit out of Heenan. This show marks Undertaker’s first special Mania entrance as he rides to the ring on a chariot, flanked by a vulture. Pretty badass. As clunky and awkward as Gonzalez was, this was a pretty cool visual and actually seemed like a potentially legit threat to Taker, especially after the beating he laid down in Sac-Town. The crowd was super fired up as Taker blocked Gonzalez and rocked him with right hands. The giant would block a choke attempt and levy one of his own, leading to Taker scaling the corner and returning the favor. A Gonzalez low blow would break that up but Taker shook it off and hit his rope walk axe handle. Gonzalez would land a big kick before tossing Taker across the ring with ease. After that fun start, the match hit a wall when Gonzalez hooked in a lazy headlock. Taker broke the hold but got dumped outside, where Gonzalez met him and rammed him into the steps. I will say this, Gonzalez is moving decently and Taker is busting his ass to bump around for him. Back inside, Taker kept fighting off the giant and landing blows wherever he could. He would get his hands on Harvey, but in the kerfuffle, Harvey tossed a rag into the ring. Gonzalez grabbed the rag, knocked Paul Bearer to the floor and then started to smother the Deadman with it. Somehow, amateur chemist Randy Savage identifies that it is chloroform right away. As Taker crumbled to the mat, the ref called for the DQ. I cannot believe that I enjoyed that match on this viewing. It is not nearly as bad as legend portrays it as. Both guys worked pretty hard and Taker was busting his ass bumping all around. The crowd loved it too. Gonzalez stood tall as Taker was barely moving, eventually grabbing a referee and chokslamming him viciously to the mat. The crowd heat for Gonzalez was pretty good here too. Man, if you watched this thing in a vacuum you would think he may be set for a huge heel run. Taker would get stretchered out but would fight off it to his feet and charge back to the ring. He hammered the giant with a series of clotheslines, finally knocking him to his feet to a monster pop. This whole package was way more fun than I ever, ever gave it credit for. And it was one of the few matches on the card that had some damn energy behind it. Good for them. Grade: **
*** Gene Okerlund interviews Hulk Hogan about the upcoming WWF Title match. He says he and the Hulkamaniacs all support the Hitman and also confirms that Money, Inc did jump him and mess his eye up at the gym the night before. He gives advice to Hart on how to win the match and tells us the Hitman had a look in his eyes that made him question his own greatness. He issues an official challenge to either Hart or “the Jap” Yokozuna for the next WWF Title match. ***
8) Yokozuna pinned Bret Hart to win WWF Heavyweight Title after Mr. Fuji threw salt in Hart’s eyes at 8:53
Fun Fact: Bret Hart was at a disadvantage coming in to the match as he had been knocked out by Lex Luger’s bionic forearm at the WrestleMania Brunch earlier in the day.
Fun Fact II: Yokozuna earned this title match by winning the 1993 Royal Rumble. On the 3/28 Wrestling Challenge, Yoko attacked Hart during their contract signing, laying him out with the Banzai Drop. Hart would eventually struggle to his feet but it was made clear that he may not be 100% for the match.
Scott: Our main event pits the fighting champion of the fans against the massive Royal Rumble winner. At the time, I thought it was Bret’s coronation as the face of the WWF by defeating this very young superstar who just debuted barely six months ago. Bret has had a couple of great PPV title matches with Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon, but this match will be considerably different than those. Yokozuna is very big, but very agile so Bret will have to attack this opponent from a different angle. The Hitman actually takes the early advantage with quick strikes and the challenger is reeling. Bret is very aggressive in this match early on but Yoko’s size takes hold with some vicious clotheslines and then the vile nerve pinch. Eventually Bret fights back and hits a sweet bulldog off the top rope. I’m thinking this is the climax and Bret will celebrate the end of WrestleMania with the championship. Indeed when Bret hits Yoko with a metal turnbuckle and slaps the Sharpshooter on, I seriously thought the match was over. Then Mr. Fuji, in the only time he legitimately helps his guy win, throws salt in Bret’s eyes when the referee wasn’t looking. Bret is blinded by the salt and Yoko casually walks over and covers Bret for the three count. I was stunned. Yokozuna is the new champion, and I’m thinking what the hell is going on. Hulk Hogan runs down to the ring and tries to help his “friend” the Hitman. Then out of nowhere Mr. Fuji challenges Hogan to a World Title match? Bret’s telling Hogan go ahead…huh? This match is ok, but what happens next defies reality. Grade: **1/2
Justin: Coming off arguably the hottest match of the night, it is time for our Main Event with the WWF Title on the line. We were in an interesting spot at the start of this one, as Mania had never ended with a heel standing tall but it was hard to believe Yokozuna would lose this match with the way he was being built up. That is why at the time it surprised me that Hogan went on in the middle of the show, as I assumed he would send everyone home happy after Yoko won the title in the undercard. Yoko’s entrance was draped in a cloudy sky, as noted by Heenan, and which felt very fitting. As Hart entered, Ross again reminded us that he had been pelted by Luger’s forearm at that morning’s brunch. The story heading into this show was about how Hart craved respect and was doing what he could to build a legacy, which did lead to some thinking he may win and boost his resume, leading to an eventual match with Hulk Hogan. Hart wasted no time taking the attack to Yoko, charging in and leveling him with a dropkick before rocking him with right hands. I love the psychology there that Hart felt like he had to come hot out of the gate and be aggressive. That was short lived as Yoko pancaked Hart with a shoulderblock that sent him to the floor. In a nice spot, Hart hooked Yoko’s foot in between the ropes and flew into him with a dive, landing more right hands. With Yoko tied up, Hart kept landing blows until Earl Hebner unhooked the big man. This has been some brilliant work by Hart so far. He landed a couple of clothesline before Yoko planted him with one of his own. He followed with a big legdrop and things were now not looking good for the champ. The suddenly hot crowd chanted “USA” loudly as Mr. Fuji egged them on. Yoko would hook in his nervehold but a moment later he ate a Hart boot on a charge. Hart took advantage by leaping on Yoko’s back and riding him to the mat for a near fall. I love how Ross made a big deal about Hart getting that two count, showing there may be hope. Yoko cut him off with a thrust kick and reset himself by going back to the nervehold. Yoko would make a mistake with another charge as Hart dove out of the way and followed with a bulldog off the middle rope for a second near fall. Hart started to build some momentum, putting Yoko back down with a running clothesline. Hart hammered Yoko in the corner but Yoko just pushed forward and pulled both Hart and the turnbuckle pad with him. That backfired as Yoko ate the steel corner a moment later, allowing Hart to actually hook the sharpshooter in. As Yoko tried to find a way out, Fuji struck and tossed a handful of salt in the champ’s eyes. Hart would crumble backwards, allowing Yoko to cover and steal the WWF Title. That was a shifty finish but I appreciate them giving Hart an out. That was a really smart well worked match by both men. I loved how Hart picked him apart and landed shots wherever he could, slowly gaining confidence and building on his previous attack. His urgency any time he had a hole was tremendous and Yoko staying confident and calm until the finish was well done too. It was a sneaky good main event, something that was quite unexpected. Hart’s upstart title reign is over, but the way he was protected here made you confident it wouldn’t be his last. For now, the monster Yokozuna reigns supreme. Grade: ***
9) Hogan pins Yokozuna to win WWF Heavyweight Title with the legdrop at :28
Fun Fact: As Hart writhed in the mat, trying to wipe the salt out of his eyes and come to grips with what had happened, Hulk Hogan showed up to check on and shield him from further attack. Feeling ballsy after the big win, Mr. Fuji levied a challenge to the “yellow belly” Hogan to come meet a similar fate. With the blessing of Hart and the crowd rooting him on, Hogan accepted the challenge and slid into the ring to give us our second World Title match of the evening.
Scott: So wait, there’s actually a real World Title match? Fuji tries the salt trick he used to beat Bret Hart with, but this time Hogan ducks. Clothesline, leg drop and…he’s CHAMPION? What the hell did I just watch? Now the first time I watched this on PPV my cable went out right as the salt went in Bret’s eyes, so I knew nothing until my buddy called me that night and said “So he’s champion again!” Again? Then the next night on Raw the reality was there. Hulk Hogan was now a five-time WWF Champion. Sure in the heat of the moment everybody was going crazy and loving life. However the real long term problems began that night and continued throughout the spring. Where was Hogan? He didn’t show up on TV ONCE after this show. Plus he apparently reneged on dropping the title back to Bret Hart. Utter bullshit right there. Vince totally screwed this whole thing up. I would have just had either Bret retain the title here and get a confident thumbs up from the bookers and the company that he can carry things, or have Yokozuna just win under nefarious means. If you didn’t want Yokozuna to job this soon, then maybe have either Mr. Perfect or Randy Savage win the Royal Rumble and have an epic main event with outstanding workers that Bret could go over with. Instead Vince panicked that this new crop of stars at the top of the card won’t lead to success, so he fell for Hogan’s spell and not only being at WrestleMania, but shoe horning him into the main event and somehow winning the World Title. Then all the promises Hogan made he completely reneged on, so really Vince fell for the Red and Yellow hypnosis. That sends the company back a year and then Vince compounds the problem in the summertime but we will get there. This ending was an atrocious miscarriage of justice for Bret Hart and all the hard work he did from October to now. Grade: DUD
Justin: Yokozuna barely had time to celebrate as Hulk Hogan charged to the ring to dispute the finish and tend to his new best buddy. The crowd started to get a little excited, sensing something special could be coming. As Hogan helped Hart to the floor, Mr. Fuji grabbed a mic and proved why he is a useless manager, issuing an on the spot challenge to the greatest WWF superstar of all time after his grossly overweight star just wrestled a nine minute match. Between this and the Demolition fiasco, you have to assume he is allergic to managing champions. With the crowd and Hart urging him to accept the challenge, Hogan went for it. He hit the ring, ducked another salt throw, knocked Yoko down, dropped the leg and…we have a brand new WWF Champion. The Vegas crowd went batshit. Hell, I went batshit at the time too. It was a real swerve and shock, as I assumed Hogan would challenge at the new King of the Ring PPV but not here and now. Both Hart and Yoko vanished as Hogan celebrated his shocking win. Now, this decision has been skewered many times over by many critics and fans, yours truly included. However, I get what they were thinking. Business was sagging, Hart’s run was good, but he was not yet the top star they needed to carry the show. Yokozuna looked strong since he debuted and a loss like this wouldn’t hurt him in any way as he could argue he wasn’t prepared and that Fuji made a brainfart. After tepid crowd reactions in late 1991 and early 1992, the fans had been into Hogan since his Raw return and I can see why Vince McMahon thought it was worth a roll of the dice to see if he could reclaim the magic. At the very least, Hogan could later properly put over Yoko or Hart and reset things. But why not give it a go? The problem here wasn’t this decision, it was the fallout and (lack of) follow up, which we will cover next time. Grade: DUD
Scott: It’s very easy to hate this show for so many reasons. The substandard undercard and that brutal final match and swerve. However there are some bright spots. The IC Title match was very entertaining, the crowd was really hot, and even the Mega-Maniacs/Money, Inc title match was more entertaining than I remember. If Hogan had just been in that match I think we would have been fine. Hell I would have accepted the Mega-Maniacs as tag team champions. At least it avoids what happens at the end of the night. The Taker/Gonzalez match was horrendous, and the ending indicates the feud is sadly not over. No disrespect to Bob Backlund, but I think a Razor Ramon/Owen Hart match would have really lifted the quality of this show tenfold. There was a backstory and it would have been a much better match. So now we have an absent WWF Champion, Bret Hart goes from a battling champion to a complete chump, and Yokozuna looks like a total idiot. The crowd was so excited when the show ended, it’s a tragedy what happened for the next few months. There’s really nothing redeeming about this show except maybe for the opening match. Even Jim Ross’ commentary is a little shaky as he attempts to work with more animated color commentators than he’s used to. This may be a show you watch once if you’ve never seen it, and then perhaps never put it on again. Grade: D+
Justin: Ok, where to start. This WrestleMania is often lumped in at the bottom as one of the worst installments. And nothing in this rewatch made me think otherwise. It is clearly a bottom tier show. The atmosphere is pretty great and the commentary is a lot of fun. The matches were all pretty well set up and the card looked strong enough on paper, but something was just missing. Up until the last two matches, nothing felt urgent in any way. Most of the matches just felt like the competitors were going through the motions and an up and down crowd didn’t help. Also, a lot of heels (Doink, Ramon, Money, Inc. and Luger) went over and neither mid card title changed hands, so the undercard didn’t really standout much. Even Tatanka basically got hosed. The card did feel freshened up a bit with a weird WCW feel to it, thanks to Ross, Luger and the Steiners all playing featured roles in the card. As I said before, I don’t blame the booking heading in, but I do blame a combination of the booking of the show itself combined with lackluster in ring performances for making this show a dog. Small changes here or there could have made this feel like the end of storylines, but in many ways it just felt like another bump in the road, with some angles continuing on or some champions moseying along. Even something as small as Crush squashing Doink could helped the undercard a bit, but I guess the figured the massive face win at the end would make up for everything. The last two matches were the most fun of the night, with Taker/Gonzalez shocking the shit out of me and delivering a surprisingly fun little brawl and Hart and Yoko delivering a well worked and laid out main event. We will see if this new Hogan era leads to good times or bad, but for better or worse, the WWF is once again bathed in red and yellow. Final Grade: D+