Vintage Vault Pre-Viewing: Wrestlemania VIII

“Rowdy” Roddy Piper vs. Bret “The Hitman” Hart for the WWF Intercontinental Championship

We now come to the biggest event of the year with the 8th installment of Wrestlemania, and it feels like there is a real feeling of change in the air surrounding this show. Obviously, we know that this night could potentially feature Hulk Hogan’s final match and a lot of the standard bearers from the last 8 years are starting to slowly be phased out while a new crop of talent looking to make their mark. One of the matches that I’m sure many were looking forward to was the match between Roddy Piper and Bret Hart for the IC Title, and it was going to be interesting how these two meshed because we haven’t seen Piper face someone the caliber of Hart in terms of in-ring ability. I actually wouldn’t be surprised if these two went in with the mentality to try and steal the show given how big the double main event was.

The feud between the two started after Hart lost the IC Title to the Mountie at the 1/17 house show and then Piper would defeat Mountie at the Royal Rumble to win the title, and Piper would successfully defend the title against Mountie on the 2/8 Saturday Night’s Main Event as it was announced the winner would defend the title against Hart at Wrestlemania. Hart would officially challenge Piper on the 2/22 Superstars and they would cut promos on each other showing respect to each other, and they would stay apart on the house shows as Piper continued his feud with Ric Flair while Hart faced Mountie. On the 3/15 Wrestling Challenge, the two had a face-to-face which would get tense as Piper teased hitting Hart with the title, and at the March to Wrestlemania VIII Piper and Hart had a confrontation after Piper’s match against Shawn Michaels. They did a good job in keeping the build simple yet interesting enough that it would be one of the big matches on the card, and this also felt like a pretty big dream match as well.

The two have an interesting face-to-face interview before the match where Piper gives Hart backhanded insults out of fun and Hart said he was only focused on the title as Piper had his belt wrapped around his fist, and both men get a big pop from the crowd and they are pretty split for the whole match. The two men have a staredown to start the match and they square off before locking up with Piper hitting an armdrag, and they lock up again with Hart hitting an armdrag and they lock up a third time with Piper taking Hart to the mat and he rides him. Hart gets to his feet and sends Piper to the outside as Piper quickly returns to the ring and Hart shoves him back only for Piper to spit on him, and they engage in a test of strength with Piper getting a kick in and he works on the arm. Hart turns it around and works on Piper’s arm as Piper tries to fight out and he rams him into the buckle, but Hart hangs onto the arm and Piper pounds on him only for Hart to take him to the mat as he continues to work the arm. Piper gets to his feet and whips Hart off as Hart ducks a shot and he hits a dropkick on Piper, and Hart appears to have injured his shoulder as the ref keeps Piper back only for Hart to hook a small package for a two count. Piper slaps Hart in the face and Hart shoves him back as they lock up with Hart hooking a headlock, and Piper whips him off and Hart hits a high crossbody that sends both men over the top to the floor. Piper returns to the ring and holds the ropes open for Hart who returns to the ring as well which gets a pop from the crowd, and Hart turns his attention to his boot which allows Piper to get a stiff punch in and Hart gets busted open from it. Piper pounds and stomps on Hart before ramming him into the buckle and he continues to pound on him, and he hits a running bulldog on Hart for a two count and then he bites him in the face in the corner before whipping him hard into the other corner. He slaps Hart in the back of the head and hits a kneelift for a two count before pounding on him only for Hart to hook a sunset flip for a two count, and Piper pounds on Hart and knocks him down for a two count as Hart battles back and they trade blows with Hart hitting a flying forearm that sends Piper through the ropes to the outside. Piper returns to the ring and both men clothesline each other as Piper gets to his feet first and goes up top, but Hart leaps to his feet and crotches Piper on the top rope before grabbing him by the hair and slamming him head first into the mat. Hart hits an atomic drop and a suplex on Piper for a two count and then he hits a Russian legsweep for a two count, and he hits a backbreaker on Piper and looks for the Sharpshooter only for Piper to block it and Hart drops an elbow on him. Hart goes up to the middle rope only for Piper to catch him coming in with a boot to the face, and the two men trade blows on their knees until Hart hits a headbutt and hooks a headlock as Piper whips him off and sends him into the ref who gets knocked down. Piper hits a clothesline that sends Hart through the ropes to the outside and Piper goes outside as well as he rams Hart into the steps, and he throws Hart into the ring before grabbing the ring bell and he brings it into the ring. He stands over Hart and teases hitting him with the bell though he hesitates as Hart tries to get to his feet and Piper eventually tosses the bell away, and Piper ducks a shot and hooks the sleeper on as Hart climbs up the corner and falls back into a pin attempt which gets the three and we have a new champion. After the match, Piper takes the belt from the ref and drapes it on Hart’s shoulder before helping him to his feet and he puts the belt around Hart’s waist, and the two men embrace out of respect before Piper helps Hart to the back.

The match itself was great as both men worked hard and put on a tremendous title match that doesn’t get talked about enough as one of the best IC Title matches of all time. Hart has grown a lot in the last year with some of the matches he’s had and there is no question that he was the top dog of the midcard at this time, but the real surprise was Piper as he went step-for-step with Hart while also mixing in his usual brawling and Hart also matched him in the brawling. They also had the right amount of time in 13 minutes and they went all out as it was also shocking to see Hart bleed, but it helped up the tension in the match as he looked like a valiant warrior fighting hard. The ending was great too as Piper teases using the bell and the crowd pretty much guilts him into not using it, and it was a huge win for Hart as Piper rarely, if ever lost clean and you could see the respect he had for Hart to put him over strong like that. The crowd was red hot for the match and both men, and they popped big for Hart when he won though they also show Piper the respect he deserves. Hart gets the win over Piper and is once again IC Champion as both men move on.

Final Grade: ****