Scott & Justin’s Vintage Vault Refresh: WrestleMania VIII


*** 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 VIII: Win, Lose or Draw…

April 5, 1992
Hoosier Dome
Indianapolis, Indiana
Attendance: 62, 167
Buy Rate: 2.3
Announcers: Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenan

Dark Match:

Bushwhackers beat the Beverly Brothers in 10:00.

*** British Bulldog vs. Berzerker was originally scheduled but was cut due to time. ***

Actual Show:

1) Shawn Michaels defeats Tito Santana with a Bodyslam Reversal at 10:39

Fun Fact: While this is Shawn Michaels’ first PPV singles bout, it is also Tito Santana’s last (not counting dark matches, as he sticks around until King of the Ring 1993). Santana’s final PPV record, including Rumbles and Survivor Series matches was 3-19. He was 0-6 in Royal Rumbles (he was in every Rumble from 1988-1993), 1-7 at WrestleMania, 0-2 at SummerSlam and 2-4 at Survivor Series. Throw in his two dark matches and his record goes to 4-20, as he actually picks up his second WrestleMania win in the dark match at IX, meaning the only two Mania matches he won were his first and last.

Fun Fact II: On the 2/1/92 episode of WWF Superstar, Sensational Sherri was a guest on The Funeral Parlor, where she admitted that she had found the man of her dreams, Shawn Michaels. Two weeks later she made her first appearance with Shawn as his manager and love interest. Sherri also sang the original version of Shawn’s theme music, “Sexy Boy”.

Scott: We open the eighth edition of our biggest show of the year with the first solo match of what would be one of the most storied careers in professional wrestling. After throwing his former tag team partner through the Barber Shop window, Shawn Michaels has his coming out party here against one of the WWF’s loyalists. Tito has been at every WrestleMania since its inception and now gets another payday by putting over one of the up and coming talent. Michaels had that look to be a breakout heel star, and as we see 1992 continue, the winds of change are blowing very strong. Michaels has his valet, Sensational Sherri, by his side to give him a little heat. Unlike being associated with Savage and DiBiase, which were simply business relationships, Sherri is enamored with the “Sexy Boy” and even sings his new entrance theme. The singer may change, but the melody will be one of the most enduring themes in WWF history. The match is solid enough as Tito dictates a bit, but Michaels keeps up as Bobby continues Jesse Ventura’s tradition of the Mexican jokes to Tito. Michaels wins cheap to get his first of what would be many WrestleMania wins. A solid start to the show here in the bright Hoosier Dome. Grade: **

Justin: And we have arrived at our eighth WrestleMania and on paper it is certainly one of the most interesting shows to date thanks to a lot of mystery around the Main Event scene. It is also a big changing of the guard type show too, as we will see. After a year off, we are back inside a dome setting and it looks pretty damn awesome. Thanks to the style of roof in the Hoosier Dome, the arena is lit up brightly and baked in sunshine. Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenan are back in the booth and pick up right where they left off in Albany as Heenan mistakes Reba McIntyre for Tito Santana’s sister “Arriba”. Santana is making his eighth consecutive Mania appearance but hasn’t notched a win since the inaugural outing in MSG. His opponent is someone that had been pegged as 1992’s breakout star, Shawn Michaels. Michaels had gone heel hard back in January and over the past three months he has really cultivated his character into the purely arrogant Sexy Boy. He has also picked up Sensational Sherri as his MILF valet and they gave off a pretty great young stud/cougar vibe, gelling immediately. His iconic “Sexy Boy” theme song also makes its PPV debut here. He really went from bland heel to fantastic cocky dickhead overnight once Sherri got onboard. This was a prime spot for him to open Mania and get the show off and running, especially with a high quality opponent. Gorilla notes that Michaels has already challenged the winner of tonight’s Intercontinental Title match, another sign that big things were in the plans. Bonus points for the very topical “I’m Too Sexy for This Crowd” quote engraved on his vest. Tito came out hot, rattling the cocky Michaels and drilling him to the floor with a clothesline. Tito would grind Shawn on the mat with a headlock until Michaels was able to fight to his feet and chuck the Matador down to the floor. After wearing down Tito a bit, Shawn cutoff a comeback with a nice crescent kick to the face. Tito would avoid Shawn’s teardrop suplex and that is when business really picked up. After trading blows, Tito landed his flying forearm, sending Shawn tumbling outside. Tito was aggressive, working him over outside before pitching him back in and catching him with a slingshot shoulderblock. Tito would strike with El Paso de la Muerte, but again Michaels rolled to the floor. Tito would try to slam him back in from the apron, but Michaels hooked the top rope, shifted his weight and crashed down hard onto Tito to grab his first major singles win. That was a good match and a rock solid win over a veteran to get Shawn’s career up and running. Tito sticks around for another year plus, but we won’t see him on PPV again. I will really miss watching his matches as he has been a joy and a stalwart on all of these shows. Grade: **

*** Gene Okerlund brings the Legion of Doom out for an interview. The LOD had been off TV since February, when they shockingly lost their Tag Team titles to the upstart Money, Inc. They are joined here by Paul Ellering, their longtime manager from their formative years in AWA and NWA. Ellering announces that he is back to manage his boys and Animal and Hawk both issue warnings to the champions that they are coming for their titles. ***

2) Undertaker defeats Jake Roberts after a tombstone on the floor in 6:36.

Fun Fact I: This is Jake Roberts’ first singles WrestleMania match as a heel since WrestleMania II. It will also be his last match with the company for nearly four years. Roberts had been promised a position on the writing team previously by Vince McMahon, but became upset with him when he was not offered the job after Pat Patterson stepped down from the team due to a sexual harassment scandal. He threatened to no-show Mania if he was not given a release from his contract. Roberts would not return to the WWF until 1996 at the Royal Rumble.

Fun Fact II: This feud started on a Saturday Night’s Main Event in February of 1992. Roberts had just lost a match with Savage and was waiting behind the curtain to ambush Savage and Elizabeth with a chair as they walked through. Just as he was about to hit them, Undertaker appeared and grabbed the chair from Roberts, solidifying the face turn that the crowd was begging for. A cool moment occurred a few weeks later on the Funeral Parlor, as Jake locked Taker’s hand in the casket and laid him out with chair shots and then capped it off by DDT’ing Paul Bearer.

Scott: In what would end up being Jake Roberts’ final WWF PPV match for almost four years, he goes one-on-one with his former protégé. The cheers for the Deadman couldn’t be ignored, so he was turned face and the crowd can now totally be behind him. Jake has been on fire since turning heel back in early August. After Taker had his (very) brief run as WWF Champion, where he got babyface pops after beating Hulk Hogan, he cruised along but here is getting the respect from one of the old timers in the company. Jake was out the door soon due to some backstage issues. He apparently was promised a writing position, but instead of replacing Pat Patterson, Vince decided to keep the slot vacant. That pissed Jake off and he decided to walk out before Mania if he wasn’t given his release afterwards. As a result, he came into this match with a bit of a chip on his shoulder. So to really bury Jake out the door, Taker no sold the DDT and ate a Tombstone on the outside. Taker ups his Mania record to 2-0. Meanwhile we say goodbye to one of the best characters in WWF history both as a face and a heel, as well as a master of psychology. The match really wasn’t much, and that’s a shame. Farewell Snake, and as for the Deadman, well they decide to hand him the “Hulk Hogan” feuds. More on that in our next review. Grade: **

Justin: Even though he was starting to build a bit of a fanbase and it made sense, it was really unthinkable to me at the time that Undertaker could possibly turn face. He was a such a great, scary heel and the way he had been booked since his debut never led me to even consider a turn. So, if he had to turn, it made perfect sense to do it against the one man possibly more evil than he is in Jake Roberts. Roberts has been quite diabolical since turning in the summer of 1991, torturing Ultimate Warrior, Sid Justice, Randy Savage, Elizabeth and others. However, it seems he may have finally met his match in the Deadman. Taker did get a nice pop from the crowd as he marched to the ring, but it was still a little jarring to see. Jake’s tights are interesting here, with a naked woman draped in a snake etched into the side of them. The build to this was quick and effective and made Jake look like he had a chance after his Funeral Parlor assault. After the bell, Taker shrugged off any and all Roberts offense before punishing him on the floor, slamming him face first into the post. Jake came back with a short flurry, but Taker again just sliced through it and began to pick the Snake apart. Roberts has had some interesting Mania matches in his tenure and this is kind of reminiscent of his battle with Andre the Giant at WrestleMania V just based on the size and style differential. Just when it seemed like Jake had no chance here, he was able to sneak in a DDT, his one true weapon. However, it was futile as Taker sat right up. A stunned Snake hit his short-arm clothesline and followed with a second DDT. Instead of covering Taker, Roberts rolled to the floor and went after Paul Bearer, looking to steal the urn. Taker would sit up, roll outside and drop Roberts with a Tombstone on the floor to a huge pop. Taker rolled Jake in and covered him for the win. The match was nothing but the build and psychology was very well executed and I liked how Jake’s only chance was to hit the DDT and even that didn’t work. Props to Roberts for selling out his finisher and putting the Deadman over so strong. This match eerily mirrors our opener as we have another longtime WWF stalwart hitting the road with Roberts leaving the company right after this show. On his way out, he puts over a potential major player entering into a new role. Like Santana, Roberts will also be missed around here, mainly thanks to his top notch promos and psychology. The changing of the guard in Indianapolis continues. Grade: 1/2*

*** Backstage, Mean Gene Okerlund is with the Intercontinental Champion, Rowdy Roddy Piper, and his opponent, the #1 contender for the belt, Bret Hart. Piper talks about how much he respects the Hart family and how he has known Bret since he was little, going so far as to say he remembers him when he was in his “potty pants” and when Mrs. Hart made bologna sandwiches for them. Bret turns it serious after Piper pinches his cheek. In his classic Hitman style, he states that all he is interested in is the IC title, Piper has it, he wants it and he is going to take it back. We get some brief shoving and the two almost come to blows before Bret heads to the ring. ***

3) Bret Hart defeats Roddy Piper to win WWF Intercontinental Title after reversing a sleeperhold into a pin at 13:50

Fun Fact: This is Roddy Piper’s only WWF PPV singles title defense.

Scott: In our first WrestleMania battle of babyfaces since Ultimate Warrior vs. Hulk Hogan two years earlier, we get our third straight match where there’s a changing of the guard of sorts. Seeing Hot Rod wearing a belt around his waist is very strange, but definitely fitting. Here he takes on a man that he knows very well. Piper, a Canadian, knows Stu Hart and the family intimately. Now I’m sure when you first see this match you’re thinking “Wow this is going to be a train wreck.” There’s an expert technical wrestler against a pure brawler. Let’s go back to Piper’s last WrestleMania match: That complete pile of trash against Bad News Brown in Toronto. However, I don’t know whether it was putting Bret over or just proving he’s not a puncher, kicker and talker, but something changed. The Roddy Piper I saw that day wrestled like a guy who was in his mid-20s working up to the ladder. He was working move for move with the Hitman and didn’t just punch, kick and posture like he had done before. Maybe because he was a champion, or maybe it was because Bret was a babyface and there was nothing for Piper to make fun of. So he went in there and worked a great match instead of dancing his way through it. Bret even bladed here, which was a no-no back then. I never really knew there was a “no blood” policy in the Federation Era, even by their standards. Bret did it very covertly so he wasn’t busted. Someone else DOES get busted later. We’ll get there. Anyway this was just as much about Piper putting on one of the top flight performances of his career than about Piper passing the torch to the Hitman. We knew Bret was winning here, but to get a great match like that was somewhat surprising. Bret wins his second IC Title, and in what may seem like his final match the Hot Rod goes out with a bang. Grade: ****

Justin: The build to this one had been a lot of fun and the match was highly anticipated. Bret Hart felt like he had been screwed out of his Intercontinental Title and wanted it back. Roddy Piper finally had a taste of gold and didn’t want to give it up. The two close friends began to feel the tension of the title looming over them and it led to a series of TV encounters where they kept trying to prove to the other that they could have taken a shot if they wanted to. It was rare to this point to have such a high level face vs. face title match, which helped it stand out as really special as well. Hart had settled his contract issues and was sticking around, so it seemed like a no brainer that he would take back his strap. But with Piper involved, you never know. Piper’s focused walk to the ring was great and really set the tone for what should be a heated encounter, as was evidenced by the stoic staredown before the bell. Surprisingly, Piper tried to take the match to the mat to wrestle early, getting pissed and spitting at the Hitman after Hart dumped him to the floor. Bret would take control, working the arm for a moment before unleashing a dropkick. However, when he landed he seemingly dinged up his shoulder, however it was just a patented Hitman trick as he quickly rolled up Piper into an inside cradle when he came to check on him. That one really pissed Piper off and he smacked Hart in the face to let him know as much. Piper would up the ante by luring Hart back into the ring by holding the ropes open but then telling Hart to check his untied bootlace, which gave Piper the opening for a stiff, nasty uppercut to the eye. When Hart came up, he was gushing blood. What a great spot. Piper followed with a bulldog and near fall and business was really picking up now. Piper wasn’t able to pick up a pin just yet, so he kept peppering the cut with short jabs. Bret valiantly battled back leading to a double clothesline that wiped both men out. Piper would make a mistake by going up top, allowing Hart to pop up and yank him down hard to the mat. Hart started running through his usual offense but Piper caught him with a stiff boot to the face as the Hitman came off the middle rope with an elbow drop. By this point, this felt like a real heavyweight slugfest, with both guys trading blows back and forth and neither wavering. The referee would get knocked down in the fracas, and Piper took advantage by grabbing the ring bell. However, as he stood over the bloodied Hart, he had a change of heart and couldn’t bring himself to bash the challenger with it, fueled by the crowd begging him not to. Piper would toss the bell aside and instead hook on the sleeperhold, however Hart kicked his feet up to the turnbuckle and slung himself backwards, rolling up Piper and winning the bout and title. What a beautiful finish with Piper backing down from cheating and it costing him his gold. Piper would hand Hart the title and embrace his friend after the match, putting the perfect bow on this one. The booking here was just awesome and the story was flawless with both men playing to perfection. Also, because Piper had always been so protected over the years, this felt like a very heavy win for the Hitman, regaining his title and pinning Hot Rod clean. Great stuff. Grade: ****

*** We are joined live via satellite from Atlanta by Lex Luger, who had recently signed on with Vince’s World Bodybuilding Federation. Luger had just left WCW, having lost their World Title to Sting at February’s SuperBrawl II. This was a pure cross-promotional filler piece with Heenan fawning over Luger while Lex showed up his physique and chugged milk. Luger was scheduled to compete in the WBF PPV on June 13, 1992, but was involved in a motorcycle accident prior to the event and was only interviewed via satellite (much like this one) during the event. The PPV numbers were horrible for the PPV and McMahon disbanded the WBF on month later. We will hear more from Luger as we move into 1993…in the next volume in this series.***

4) Sgt. Slaughter, Virgil, Hacksaw Jim Duggan and Big Boss Man defeat the Mountie, the Nasty Boys and Repo Man when Virgil pinned Brian Knobbs at 5:22 after Jerry Sags accidentally nailed Knobbs with brass knucks

Fun Fact I: This is Sgt. Slaughter’s last PPV match until December 1997.

Fun Fact II: The guest ring announcer for this match is the host of Family Feud, Ray Combs, who introduces the heels with corny jokes before being run out of the ring as the two teams begin brawling. Combs appeared to help promote the upcoming WWF vs. WBF battle on Family Feud in May.

Fun Fact III: Virgil is wearing a face guard because Sid Justice broke his nose during a televised match.

Scott: If there was any match that exemplifies the word “filler”, this was it. A simple eight-man tag just to give these guys the big pay day and spell the crowd from the IC Title match to bridge to our next bout. These guys are really far down the roster in terms of usefulness, as indicated by our first three matches. Those were all examples of “passing the torch”, while this match is pretty much “Ok guys throw each other around for seven minutes and then head to the pay windah” as Dusty Rhodes would say. In the next 18 months most of these guys would be gone anyway. Gorilla and Bobby don’t even care who’s the legal man and keep jabbing each other on other topics. Let’s move on. Grade: **

Justin: We need a bit of a buffer after our fantastic last match so we get a pretty random eight man battle featuring much of the mid card. On the heel side we have Jimmy Hart’s stable of he Nasty Boys and the Mountie and they are joined by the always fun Repo Man. Across the ledger, Sgt. Slaughter makes his final WrestleMania in-ring appearance, teaming with buddy Jim Duggan, Virgil and the suddenly aimless Big Boss Man. Boss Man had been embroiled in pretty big feuds over the last 18 months but is now just meandering through the card. My boy Ray Combs is the special guest ring announcer here and he takes potshots at the heels, riling up the crowd a bit before the bell. The faces started hot, linking arms and bashing their opponents with a giant back elbow/clothesline combo to clear the ring. Once things reset, Duggan would dominate Sags but the heels would eventually trap Sarge and work him over but that would be short lived. While the face team effectively took batting practice in the ring, Gorilla and Bobby took the down time to hard sell the upcoming European tour, which was very important to the company’s post-Mania success. Repo had some sweet shiny silver tights on here for the big occasion. The heels finally got some semblance of sustained offense by beating on Virgil, including a nice Sags pumphandle slam. Boss Man randomly came in the ring and hit Mountie with a spinebuster, triggering a giant brawl between all eight men. During the fracas, Virgil’s face guard came off but due to some Nasty Boy miscommunication, Sags popped Knobbs with it, allowing Virgil to grab the win. Nice little time killer there and the crowd seemed to dig it due to the personalities involved. Boss Man needs something better to dig his teeth into though. Grade: *1/2

5) Randy Savage defeats Ric Flair with a roll-up at 17:59 to win WWF World Title

Fun Fact I: This is Ric Flair’s only WWF PPV WWF Title defense, and Savage’s first PPV title shot since WrestleMania IV.

Fun Fact II: In February, President Jack Tunney held a press conference to announce the #1 Contender to the World Title. The five candidates were Hulk Hogan, Sid, Undertaker, Roddy Piper and Randy Savage. Tunney then announced that Hulk Hogan would be the number one contender at WrestleMania. After some happenings over the following weeks (which we will detail later), Hogan stepped out of the World Title match, and Tunney went with his second choice: Randy Savage, who was still generating great heat since the Jake Roberts storyline. Leading into the show, Ric Flair started claiming that he had dated Elizabeth years before Savage, and even produced photos of the two of them together, with the best one, the centerfold, to be unveiled on the big screen after the match. Of course, Flair lost, so the picture was never shown, and a few weeks later, Savage released the real photos of him and Liz, proving Flair’s to be doctored.

Scott: After that entire Hogan/Taker/Flair World Title debacle between November and January, followed by Flair’s Title win at the Royal Rumble we have come to this. When Flair debuted in September, we were all expecting Hogan/Flair in the main event. A match that would sell this place out and spike PPV ratings, and have ALMOST as much anticipation as Hogan/Andre five years earlier. There’s a myriad of reasons why the match never happened. It varies from bad house show gates when they met starting in October (which I think was a TERRIBLE idea), to the fact that Vince always wanted Hogan/Sid dating back to when Sid arrived the previous summer. I can’t say, but I do know this. I understand that back in those days house shows were still a huge part of the creative and financial way of wrestling. However, Hogan/Flair dating back to 1984 when Hogan first won the title was the dream match of the universe. So they should have maybe teased them, or maybe had them in tag matches and never face each other. This place still would have sold out and the match would have had an epic feel. I used to say that Hogan didn’t want to face Flair because he would have been exposed as a lousy wrestler but frankly that’s irrelevant. Flair has faced less talented guys and gotten great matches out of them. Anyway enough of what didn’t happen. Instead we’ve been getting a tremendous build and feud with Flair, an awesome heel, and Savage, a guy who tugs at all your heartstrings and was the perfect sympathetic babyface for this match. The doctored photos of Flair with Elizabeth are pure gold, and it continues with the typical psychology of getting at Savage through his woman. This match is tremendous, with Savage’s insane brawling and Flair’s calm, systematic dissecting of Savage. Flair is busted open, and HE got in trouble with Vince, getting fined a few thousand dollars. Elizabeth didn’t come out with Savage but she does come out late in the match as Flair is pummeling Savage’s knee and slapping on the Figure Four. Liz is battling WWF officials to head back to the locker room for her safety while Mr. Perfect (who was awesome in his consultant role here) is helping Flair cheat throughout the match. Flair tries the Figure Four one last time, but Savage rolls up Flair (grabbing tights for extra leverage) and wins his second WWF Title. Bobby is exasperated and leaves the broadcast area. The ultimate indignity is a bloodied Flair kissing Elizabeth before  she starts slapping him continuously. The post match interviews are classic, with Perfect and Bobby whining that Savage cheated, while Flair quietly cuts a vicious promo that he will get his World Title back. Overall this is a tremendous package from top to bottom and maybe we didn’t get Flair/Hogan, but this was probably even better. Grade: **** 1/2

Justin: Just when Randy Savage escapes one taxing, mentally exhausting, emotional feud he has to step right into another one. With Jake Roberts finally behind him, Savage was surprisingly granted the World Title shot here thanks to Hulk Hogan stepping down. In the weeks leading up, Ric Flair and Mr. Perfect started to play some serious mind games with Macho, as Flair claimed he gave Elizabeth a few rides on Space Mountain back in the day. Oh, and he had the photos to prove it. It was a hell of a fun storyline. And it was so good that you even overlook the glaring question hanging over this whole show: how did they not run Flair vs. Hogan? There are tons of rumors and reasons why but it was still confusing at the time and possibly even more head scratching in retrospect. I will say that Flair looked pretty awesome with that WWF Title strapped around his waist. Savage was decked out in gold, looking to capture the WWF Title for the first time since four years earlier at Trump Plaza. No question as to whose corner the fans were in for this one. Savage would tackle Flair in the aisle and Perfect wasted no time in getting involved, dragging Macho off and buying the champ time to recover. As Savage maniacally chased Flair all around the ring, Heenan wondered if Macho’s mind was in the right place and if he was more obsessed with revenge than taking the strap. Savage was relentless until Flair managed to backdrop him over the top. And speaking of Heenan, he picked right up where he left off in Albany, as he was heavily rooting for Flair and immediately exasperated doing it. Flair took his time working over the challenger, picking up near falls along the way. As Flair dropped a stiff knee across Macho’s head, Heenan wondered which of the two men Liz would go home with after the match. What an asshole. It was smart to have Flair take so much of this match, putting both guys into their best roles. Savage bought himself some time with a neckbreaker and followed with a slam off the top rope and a flurry of clotheslines for a very close near fall. Macho would send the champ flying to the floor with a clothesline and then drive him into the guardrail with a blow from the top rope. When Flair met the steel, his head was torn open and it seemed like Savage had a clear path to the gold. Back in the ring, he refused to cover the champ, instead hammering with right hands and a big axe handle off the top rope. Savage would follow with the big elbow but before the ref counted three, Perfect reached in and busted up the pin. The crowd was ready to explode there. Savage chased Perfect into the ring, but Perfect was able to slip the champ some brass knux in the confusion. As Flair decked Macho with them, it seemed like this one was over and that Savage’s tank had been emptied. Especially with a potential Flair/Hogan feud still lingering, it seemed like Flair could retain here. But Savage kicked out.

Perfect continued to play a role, smashing Savage’s knee with chair. And that brought Liz to the ring as she had enough of the interference. Flair started to viciously work the knee and hook in the figure four amongst all the chaos around him. Perfect tried to help Flair get some leverage, but the referee busted that up and broke the hold. Flair stayed on the leg and taunted Liz while doing so. But just when all was lost, Savage blocked a right hand, spun Flair around and rolled him up with a handful of trunks to beat his nemesis and take home the gold. The crowd loved it. I loved it. How could you not? Liz came in and checked on her man, but Flair was wild eyed and pissed off. He stormed over and planted a kiss on Liz, leading to her smacking him and Savage pouncing and hammering away. The officials finally cleared Flair and Perfect out after they laid in a few more shots, allowing Savage and Liz to bask in their glory. And for once they got to do it without Hulk Hogan looming over them. This was a fantastic match that was well structured and played right into the feud. The Perfect interference could have been overbearing but it was executed well enough to become really fucking annoying in a good way. After watching the full Macho Man & Elizabeth story unfold since 1986, it was hard to think of a better peak for them to experience. After reuniting a year ago, getting married and fending off the sick Jake Roberts, they outlasted the conniving Nature Boy to stand tall in the end. This is easily one of my favorite WrestleMania moments of all time. Grade: ****

6) Tatanka defeats Rick Martel with a high cross-body at 4:29

Fun Fact: Tatanka is Chris Chavis, who is a real member of the Lumbee Native American Tribe. Before this job in the WWF, Chavis received tryouts for the NFL; teams such as the Miami Dolphins, Detroit Lions, Washington Redskins, and Oakland Raiders, and from 1982-88 Chavis was a professional body builder. He had putted around the Indy scene for a while before getting picked up by Vince and given a solid character and push.

Scott: After the epic storytelling and workrate of our last match, we get some filler here to spell the crowd. This filler match is fairly important as we have another young newcomer to the WWF making his PPV debut against a veteran standout. Martel has been one of the most consistent heels on the roster and always puts on good feuds. Sadly right now he seems like another veteran that seems out of place in these winds of change that are getting stronger and stronger. The match is painfully short so there really isn’t much to go on here. Tatanka is just getting started, while Martel will transfer to another up and coming young heel. A heel that is equally as vain as he is. Grade: **

Justin: Another WrestleMania stalwart shows up here as Rick Martel battles the newcomer Tatanka. It had been quite a while since the WWF had a Native American character, so here we are. Before the match, we get Tatanka’s Lumbee Indian tribe dancing in the ring and Martel cutting a promo filled with racist jokes. Quite the show here for this clash. Tatanka had good energy and a very sharp look and he was easy to latch onto as a young fan. As Tatanka dominated early, Bobby Heenan had a meltdown in the announce both, trying to explain away Flair’s loss as Gorilla egged him on expertly. Martel took over and dumped Tatanka hard to the floor. The Model worked the back as Bobby turned to making Indian jokes to help sway his foul mood. Tatanka made the quick, hot comeback capped with a cross body block to put the veteran away. This was solid and by-the-book and good first PPV showing for Tatanka. Grade: *1/2

7) Natural Disasters defeat Money, Inc. by count-out at 8:37; Money, Inc. retains the WWF Tag Team Titles

Fun Fact I: The Natural Disasters turned face in February when Jimmy Hart sold their title shot to his new team, Money, Inc. Money, Inc. beat the Road Warriors for the titles at a house show on February 2, 1992 in Denver, Colorado.

Fun Fact II: According to WWF Magazine, Money Inc. was originally supposed to face off against Hacksaw Jim Duggan and Sgt. Slaughter at this show, but plans obviously changed as the Natural Disasters were turned face before the show.

Scott: This put-together match was an audible after the Legion of Doom dropped the titles when Hawk got suspended, most likely for drugs. So the Natural Disasters were hastily turned face to give the new heel champions an opponent here. Just like with the Rougeaus/Hart Foundation in 1988, Jimmy Hart was the linchpin of that switch. The LOD came out earlier in the show for a promo that included the WWF debut of their longtime manager Paul Ellering. The Disasters actually come off as decent enough babyfaces and the crowd was quiet but not totally out of it. Gorilla and Bobby continued to needle each other over Ric Flair’s loss more than this match. Money Inc. is a pretty good heel team and keeping the titles on them was smart. They need to build sympathy for the Disasters and get them ready for future title shots down the line. So in typical Money Inc. fashion, they just walk out of the match and get counted out. A decent enough filler match to get the crowd ready for the main event. Grade: **

Justin: So things have changed quite a bit in the tag division since our last PPV outing. In February, Jimmy Hart brought Ted DiBiase and IRS together and they were able to steal away the gold from the Legion of Doom. Burnt in the process were the Natural Disasters, who got sold down the river by Hart when he sold their title shot to his new team. I mentioned earlier how jarring it was to suddenly see Taker as a face and I put Earthquake in that same boat. After all the evil he has brought down on the WWF since he debuted, it was weird seeing him on the face side. I loved the pairing of DiBiase and IRS as it made all the sense in the world based on character and was also a needed boost in the arm for DiBiase, who had spent all of 1991 feuding with Virgil and now had nothing going on. It also gave IRS some cred too. There was a lot of staling off the bell, allowing both teams to feel each other out. Quake would eventually strike first and clear the ring of both men with some good fire. The big men pretty much dominated this one right through, using their power to overwhelm the champs. Their momentum only broke when DiBiase ducked a Typhoon charge and the big guy flopped to the floor. The champs would double team often, knowing that was their best chance to wear Typhoon down. Gorilla continued to prod Bobby about Flair as the match meandered along. Typhoon would make one of the quietest hot tags you may ever hear, bringing Quake in to clobber both champs. DiBiase would get slung to the floor and he and Hart would pull IRS out as well before Quake could splash him. The champs would grab their titles and walk off, eating the lame countout loss to save their titles. I don’t know why the Disasters just stood there and watched as it all happened. The match was pretty blah and Money, Inc’s reign is not off to the strongest start here. The crowd wasn’t feeling this one and I don’t blame them as we hadn’t had much time to warm up to the Disasters and didn’t have a big on screen turn to get behind them. Their turn just sort of happened behind the scenes. Either way, the tag division has been shaken up again and now the chase for the gold runs through Money, Inc. Grade: 1/2*

8) Owen Hart defeats Skinner with a roll up at 1:09.

Fun Fact: This is Skinner’s only WrestleMania appearance. The man behind Skinner, however, Steve Keirn, would appear at Wrestlemania IX in a completely different role.

Scott: This match should have been pulled off the card. Two really good workers get barely 90 seconds. I’m sure that they were supposed to get more time but the show may have been running long. Maybe they should have cut out that Luger/WBF promo and saved it for the syndication shows. Again, it’s probably just to give these guys a payday. Time for the main event. Grade: DUD

Justin: We are really on the express lane now. As time was ticking away, we weren’t going to be given much time to enjoy this one. The New Foundation has already splintered apart as Jim Neidhart was sent packing, giving Owen Hart a chance to fly solo. Skinner would jump him off the bell and eventually hit the Gatorbreaker, but Owen kicked out. A blink of an eye later saw Owen roll up the Alligator Man to grab the really quick win. Skinner’s woes with the Hart Family continues as he pisses away another winnable match. Grade: DUD

9) Hulk Hogan defeats Sid Justice by disqualification at 12:27 when Harvey Wippleman and Papa Shango interfere.

Fun Fact I: This is the only WrestleMania Main Event to end in a Disqualification.

Fun Fact II: There are two stories floating around about the ending of this match and why Sid kicked out of Hogan’s legdrop. As legend goes, Papa Shango was late running out to the ring, where he was supposed to break up the pin fall after the legdrop, so Harvey and Sid had to improvise, with Harvey jumping in the ring to cause the DQ. The first legdrop story is that Shango was not late, and it was indeed Harvey who was supposed to cause the DQ, but Sid and Harvey made a plan where Harvey would be late jumping in the ring to break up so Sid could kick out of it to make Hogan look bad. The other story is that Harvey and Shango were legitimately late getting to the ring and Sid HAD to kick out to avoid blowing the end of the match. There has never been a solid answer on this, so who knows what is right. Of course, there could have been no mistakes, and the match was booked just the way it happened, but the whole sequence does look weird and improvised.

Fun Fact III: As we mentioned earlier, Jack Tunney held a press conference to announce the number one contender for the World Title at WrestleMania. Just as Tunney was set to announce the contender, Sid Justice began to stand up, assuming it would be him since he was the runner up at the Royal Rumble. Now, Sid was relatively new at this point, and clearly wasn’t filled in on the political nature of the WWF: Hulk Hogan is always the number one contender or World Champion unless he decides not to be for a few weeks here and there. In all seriousness, Sid was pissed off, as he slammed the table, crumpled some papers and cut a nasty promo after the announcement. Sid later apologized and offered to team up with Hogan against Undertaker and Ric Flair on the next Saturday Night’s Main Event. As the match began to wind down, Hogan had been beaten down by Flair and Undertaker for most the match and was trying to tag Sid. Hogan was able to take both opponents down and make a last second lunge for Sid. However, Justice had other plans, as he mockingly dropped to the floor as Hogan came for the tag. The crowd went ballistic and Sid walked over to Brutus Beefcake who had been in his and Hogan’s corner and threatened to punch him in the face. Sid walked out to a chorus of boos, and a new top heel was created. Sid then picked up Dr. Harvey Wippleman, who had been managing the iconic Big Bully Busick as well as Warlord, as his manager and started on a run of jobber destruction that was awe inspiring. Week after week Sid would murder some stiff and continue to build momentum heading into the biggest match of his life. A week or so before the event, Sid appeared on the Barber Shop and eventually flipped out and destroyed the entire set with a chair and the segment ended with the classic shot of Sid yelling into the camera with shaving cream on his face. Hogan was taking this match quite seriously and rumors began swirling that this would be his final match. He even had a sit down one on one interview with Vince McMahon on the Countdown to WrestleMania special, where it seemed awfully likely that the Hulkster would be leaving for good, win, lose or draw.

Fun Fact IV: In the weeks following this show, Sid was set to feud with the Ultimate Warrior, but ended up walking out on Vince less than a month after main eventing WrestleMania. Rumors abound over the truth of his departure: from failing a drug test to Sid being pissed over his WrestleMania payout.

Fun Fact V: Here is some information on why this feud may have come about per Dave Meltzer at Wrestling Classics: “Meltzer said the plan was always Sid/Hogan, and never was going to be Flair/Hogan: The plan was always Hogan/Sid, dating back a year. Business was very different then. House shows were advertised big. You didn’t do 2-3 matches in every market on a house show and then the PPV. I knew Hogan/Sid as the main event maybe 10 months out. When they did the TV announcement of Hogan/Flair, it was just an angle as Flair already knew he was facing Savage by then. What people don’t realize is that Hogan/Flair started off doing good business, but it had petered out by December, months before Mania. Vince was going to build to Hogan legdropping Flair at the house shows early in 1992, but after a terrible house in Florida, Vince felt it had run its course. He changed all the shows to Hogan & Piper vs. Flair & Sid, and it was Hogan/Sid drawing the money. The only Hogan/Flair Mania hint was in September of 91, when they started their house show run, and Flair wanted to do 30:00 matches and Hogan wanted 15:00, he told Flair they needed to save the 30:00 match for Mania. But when crowds for the program dropped, and second time in our market they only did 5,400 at the Cow Palace, and our market had it first, there was no Mania in their future. In hindsight people think it would have been a big deal, but it had already run its course months before Mania and WWE promoted the program ass backwards and Flair wasn’t considered special by WWF fans. I’m a friend of Flair and have never had any interest in paying to see Sid, but that is how it was then.”

Fun Fact VI: Prior to the show, newcomer Papa Shango placed a voodoo curse on Hulk Hogan.

Scott: For the first time in WrestleMania history, the scheduled WWF Title match was not the last match. The first thing that struck me was that Bobby said he heard Gorilla refer to Sid as “Psycho Sid”. I never remember that, and of course when Sid returns three years later that’s his moniker. I know they were trying to pump up this match by saying it could very well be Hogan’s last match. So that was needed to bring up the drama and get over 60,000 to the Hoosier Dome. Sid was my favorite wrestler in the company at this point, and I remember being really pissed that he didn’t win the Royal Rumble and the WWF Title. Then when he got hosed by Jack Tunney and didn’t get the title shot here, I was really upset. I still loved Hogan and was still a loyal Red and Yellow follower but I really wanted Sid to be in the title match on either side. Alas we get this match between two powerhouses. Backstage it turns out the steroid scandal was reaching the public, so Vince needed to put some of his bigger guys on the shelf to get kill the heat a bit. That includes his meal ticket for the past eight years. So he takes on the guy who walked out on him on Saturday Night’s Main Event. From there Sid went on one of the greatest jobber squashes in history. Every week leading to WrestleMania, Sid would destroy some poor stiff on Superstars and beat on him some more after the bell. The Barber Shop moment where he has powder and shaving cream all over him is a memorable moment in WWF history. As for the match itself, we can probably predict how this was going to go. Both guys have a limited repertoire of power moves and that’s pretty much all that Sid does. Stiff chokeslams and clotheslines, followed by terrible nerve pinches, and Hogan sells it all. The crowd is still pretty hot, and of course it was a safe prediction to say that Hogan was going to win this match. I will say Sid hit his big moves (like a deadlift sidewalk slam) pretty impressively. Hogan kicks out of Sid’s powerbomb and Hulks Up, does his moves and hits the legdrop. Then the real mess begins. Hogan hits the legdrop, but Sid kicks out. Huh? That was weird, but then Papa Shango comes out of nowhere and starts helping Sid attack the Hulkster. Our main event ends in a disqualification. Then, while the beatdown goes on we hear familiar music blasting throughout the dome. What follows is one of the first real crazy shockers I’ve seen in history as a fan. THE ULTIMATE WARRIOR??? What the hell? Forgotten after SummerSlam 1991, Warrior runs down like a bat out of hell and cleans the ring. One of the most bizarre endings in Mania history, and to cap it off Hogan grabs a sign from a fan at ringside that said “BRING BACK THE WARRIOR”. How fitting and serendipitous. The match was average but this ending, as train wrecked as it was, made me mark out as a fan back then. Grade: **

Justin: For the seventh time in eight years, WrestleMania closes with a Hulk Hogan match. However, it is the first time the show is closing without the World Champion involved in the final bout. In the weeks leading up to the show, rumors were swirling that Hogan was hanging up the tights to transition to a career in Hollywood. Of course, another reason was that the feds were bearing down on the company’s steroid issues and Hogan was the poster boy for…ahem, vitamins, and figured it was a good time for a layoff. With the World Title busy elsewhere, Hogan was ready to take some time off and focused his energy on gaining revenge on Sid Justice before he left. The big man had turned on him during a tag match on Saturday Night’s Main Event and it pissed Hulk off so much that he gave up a shot at the gold. The week before the show we got a very heavy-handed sit-down interview between Hogan and Vince McMahon where Hogan highly hinted that this could be it. Across the ring, there was a ton of hype for Sid when he debuted in the summer, but his run was pretty tepid until the Royal Rumble. Since then, he has been on a tear, turning heel and murdering jobbers left and right as he set up to eliminate Hulkamania for good. Even though he was originally slated to be the next Hogan, Sid was much more entertaining as a heel at this point in his career. And he had some tremendous presence as he strutted to the ring, head held high, his badass theme music throbbing through the arena. Hogan’s pop was strong but was clearly not as robust as in years past. Sid jumped him off the bell but Hogan fired back and sent him flying to the floor with some right hands. In an odd bit of production, Hogan’s music kept playing during the fighting. After he drilled Sid again, Hogan posed a bit and the music finally ended as the bell rang. Hogan fended off another Sid attack, again driving him to regroup on the floor. The crowd really got behind Hogan by this point, even louder than during his entrance and there was no questionable split like back in Albany. The two giants would lock into a lengthy test of strength that Hogan eventually came back to win after Sid broke him down. However, Harvey ran some brief interference that allowed Sid to slam Hogan hard to the mat with a one handed chokeslam. Sid would target the back from there before locking in a very bland nerve hold that killed the match dead. It went on way too damn long. Hogan refused to give in to that vicious hold, so Sid broke it and drilled a side suplex before gloating a bit. Sid has wasted a whole lot of time here, I can’t believe Gorilla hasn’t been blasting him for it. Sid would get a near fall off a powerbomb, but Hogan blew out of the cover and Hulked Up to the roar of the crowd. Hulk drilled the big boot, slammed Sid and dropped the leg but Sid kicked out at two just as Harvey Wippleman hopped in the ring. Harvey didn’t even touch Hogan, but the referee called for the lame DQ anyway. I know we ran through the scenarios above, but something had to be botched up here because it is super awkward after the legdrop. It was cool seeing Sid kick out of vehemently though, which kind of made sense based on his planned push. As the two continued to brawl, newcomer Papa Shango ambled to the ring and helped Sid put the beatdown on Hogan. As the assault was on, a familiar guitar riff echoed through the arena and the Ultimate Warrior charged to ringside to clean house. His return here is easily one of the best WrestleMania surprises of all time. Hogan and Warrior would pose together to close the show, very similarly to two years earlier and in some ways it felt like yet another passing of the torch. With Hogan riding off into the sunset, he passes on his endorsement and the company also picks up a top level face to step into the void. As for the match, it really was not very good. It was really Hogan Template Match #4 out of his catalog and didn’t do much to make Sid look great in any way, outside of him kicking out of the legdrop, but even that was basically forgotten about with all the post match kerfuffle. Either way, Hogan gets his big moment in the sun, Sid gets a chance to catch his breath and reboot and the Warrior is back in the house. Oh, and then Sid leaves a couple of weeks later. Making this all feel even a bit more useless in the end. Grade: *

Final Analysis

Scott: This was a very unique WrestleMania, at least for its time. We had more torch-passing matches than ever before, as Shawn Michaels, Undertaker and Bret Hart all got big wins from established veterans. We had an incredible World Title match, and even though the match was lackluster, the main event delivered on a shock factor with the return of the Ultimate Warrior. The feeling many must have got from this show was that definitely change was in the air. Even though Hogan was standing tall at the end, you didn’t get the feeling he was sticking around anyway. With Savage as a huge babyface now, going after the title wasn’t an option. So maybe he was leaving, and it was time to freshen things up. We see in August that change was indeed in the air. This is one of the more fun, if not unique WrestleManias in history and one that if you haven’t watched in a while you may want to throw in again. Final Grade: B+

Justin: This is a really hard WrestleMania to break down and grade. There aren’t really any terrible low points and the highs are really high, but there is a lot stuff that just doesn’t totally click. As we mentioned throughout, there was a lot of change in the Hoosier Dome air, with a new era of WWF stars being pushed to the forefront and much of the old guard being slowly phased out. Similar to 1988, the company is going quite the overhaul as it sets itself up for a post-steroid scandal world. Piper/Hart and Flair/Savage was tremendous matches and angles and those two things plus Warrior’s return, the commentary and the historical significance of the ascension of Hart, Shawn Michaels and Undertaker prop this up more than the grades doled out would lead to the believe. It feels like a real transition show and period and I think the company did a great job taking advantage of the opportunities laid out in front of them to get their new stars over. If the World Title match and Hogan/Sid match were flipped, I think this card comes off a bit stronger as you separate the two strongest matches a bit more but prop up the middle with Warrior’s return and Hogan’s sendoff. Either way, it is still a really fun installment and it was nice to take a step back from the super bloated Mania cards that we have seen over the four years. Final Grade: B