I’ve officially reached Wrestlemania IX, the first Wrestlemania since the rise of Monday Night RAW. I had thought that the most recent Wrestlemania was the worst I’ve ever seen. But I think this might have actually beaten it. So what I’m going to do is work down the list and talk about what I remember from watching last night.
Technically the first match was Tito Santana Versus Papa Shango. However this wasn’t actually televised which suggests to me that it was exceptionally poor. Or perhaps it was so amazing that they needed to cut it to make the rest of the matches look passable.
The second match, which I DID see was Tatanka versus Shawn Michaels. This match had a lot of strong points, both Sean Michaels and Tatanka are amazing wrestlers in my opinion. Sean Michaels will only get better as time goes on. I hadn’t heard of Tatanka before the most recent Wrestlemania where he had a cameo. To see him back in the 90s has been nothing but a treat.
Tatanka more or less carries this match. Randomly it ends with the Ref dipping for a count, saying screw it, and then ending the match because he says that Sean Michaels was disqualified. This is on par with the ending of matches in modern times. It was one of the poorest I’ve seen. Matches ending with disqualifications will be the trop of tonight.
The next match was between the Steiner Brothers and the Headshrinkers in a tag team match. This match was mostly uneventful. The Steiners are already an impressive team but I think this is before they really get into the groove of things. We’ll see how much of that is nostalgia and how much of that is reality as I move further through the 90s. This match ends suddenly, and I didn’t find myself interested through most of it. There was nothing to really lose here.
The next match is probably the best match of the entire night. As a kid I loved playing as Crush in some of the earlier WWF games. His finisher is so simple and yet I love it. He squishes your head with the Cranium Crush until you surrender (or presumably your head pops like the coconuts in his promo videos).
He’s up against Doink the Clown. Doink has quickly become one of my absolute favorite wrestlers for this era of WWF. He is absolutely amazing with facial expressions. Whenever he gets “serious” the expression that crosses his face is bone chilling. I think that Doink might be my favorite take on the “evil clown” character. I absolutely buy it and have no issue shutting off my brain and believing he’s there to hurt someone.
His laughter often gets peppered with moments of self realization where you can almost hear the voices in his head. As you can see in the image above, the match ends with a fantastic surprise! Doink seemingly duplicates underneath the ring. Crush tries to force Doink to surrender (or perhaps worse) as the second Doink rises from the depths. Together they tag team on Crush before ultimately Doink pins him.
The other Doink vanishes beneath the ring just as quickly as he appeared. I felt like no match would likely match up to this one for the rest of the night. We’ll see shortly if that would be the case.
Certainly though, Doink and Crush earned their spot at Wrestlemania. This was lovely.
Much like Tatanka, Backlund was a cameo at the most recent Wrestlemania. I hadn’t heard of him before but he has quickly grown on me. Backlund apparently was a big deal almost a decade prior but he has since returned. He’s the faciest of faces, to the point that no other good guy in the show is as good as him. He tries to start off every match with a handshake. He’s basically the Apollo Crews of 1993. I love it.
He’s up against a childhood favorite of mine, Razor Ramone. The self proclaimed “bad guy”. So what we have is the faciest of faces up against the heeliest of heels. It goes on for a bit, and is very promising. And then, out of nowhere, it just ends. Ramone rolls up Backlund, three count, done. I don’t know what happened. The match lasted between two and a half to three minutes. It was faster than most RAW matches, very peculiar.
We enter into another tag team match. This time for the Tag Team Championship, this match is between Money Inc (Ted DiBiase and Irwin R. Schyster) and The Mega-Maniacs (Hulk Hogan and Brutus Beefcake). Beefcake is wearing a mask to protect his face because of a (very real) incident that had happened that required hours of surgery and a lot of metal plates. It was a very unfortunate design, but I felt it was more of a necessity thing.
As for the match itself. Most of it goes about how you’d expect with a “god tier” wrestler like Hulk Hogan up against just about anyone that isn’t a household name. They basically beat the crap out of Money Inc until the duo attempts to just walk out on the match. Randomly the referee says that if there is a count out, this time, the belts will switch hands. Ok, I guess, I wish someone had said that earlier when Tatanka got screwed.
The duo return to the match and get the crap beat out of them some more. The ref is knocked out, to be followed shortly by Money Inc. Who are then both pinned by Hulk and Beefcake, to have the pin counted by Jimmy Hart.
Naturally this leads to more officials appearing, because that’s dumb. They disqualify the Mega-Maniacs (DQ #2 of the night).
The next match is between Lex Luger and Mr. Perfect. This is another one of those cases where I seem to recall Lex Luger not being an awful wrestler but certainly his match tonight was not very good. Mr. Perfect has had numerous matches since I’ve started watching RAW that were fairly good. He’s not a visually intimidating guy, but he presents a convincing atmosphere when wrestling.
The match slogs along without anything really interesting happening (neither wrestler has an interesting moveset and unfortunately less chemistry). Mr. Perfect gets a solid pin on Lex Luger whose foot is on the rope. The referee notices it and breaks the pin (as you should), around 30 seconds later Lex Luger pins Mr. Perfect so that both of Mr. Perfect’s legs are on the ropes and the referee doesn’t notice this (which is less ideal).
In many ways this mirrors how Tatanka should have won the title earlier, where that special treatment was only given to Hulk. Here we have Mr. Perfect getting screwed for something that consistency suggests shouldn’t have happened. It was also another sudden finisher, much like the match between Backlund and Ramon.
The next match was between the 6’11” or so Undertaker and the 8′ tall Giant Gonzalez. One of the big issues with massive people wrestling is that they don’t tend to be very diverse on what they can do. To the credit to Gonzalez he at least looks like he could do some damage with simple punches and throws. At the very end of the match he even throws a referee around in ways that sort of solidify just how much strength this dude has.
His outfit… yeah. Just google it, I’ve got no words.
Anywho, the two slug it out for a bit, as you’d expect. And then the match ends in the most predictable of manners. With the Undertaker…being…chloroformed. What? Where did that come from? Ok, well yeah. So this was our third match of the night to end randomly with a disqualification. I dunno, man. I’m a pretty positive guy. But overall I’m wishing this night had just been a doink fest.
That uh, that came out differently than I intended.
The last match of the night was between two of my all time favorites. Yokozuna for the spectacle (an unstoppable sumo wrestler) and Bret “The Hitman” Hart for excellence in technical wrestling nad just being an all around cool dude.
Wrestling with someone that is over five hundred pounds is probably not easy. There were so many clever moves in this match. Both Yokozuna and Hart earned the main event spot on this show. I was really enjoying the whole thing. Which is why I was disappointed that such an interesting match ended with a cheap finisher. Yokozuna wins because his manager tosses salt in the eyes of Brett.
Yokozuna is beast mode, basically nobody can hurt him. Why?
Naturally they couldn’t let Wrestlemania end on a cheesy salt to the eyes finisher. That’s so poor that nobody in their right mind would take the biggest event of the year and end it that way.
And they don’t! Hulk Hogan comes out and they randomly challenge him to a fight for the title. A title that Yokozuna just won after a long and arduous match that ended with a cheesy finish.
So, against all reason. Hulk and Yokozuna fight. And once again the title changes hands in a matter of moments. And again it is because…of…salt…to the eyes.
Is that? Is that supposed to represent how I felt by the end of this? Salty?
I suppose. Overall this was a very disappointing show. Yokozuna did great, Bret Hart did great, Doink and Perfect too. I’m probably forgetting someone. But even with a handful of folks trying their best to present a great show we still had a series of confusing ends and inconsistencies. It was quite the bummer. I really think Yokozuna should have kept the title. I don’t see anything interesting coming from Hulk as the champ, and I actually like his wrestling character. But to me an unstoppable sumo heel would have been much more interesting than the all-american face.
At the very least, or perhaps the very most, one half of my favorite announcers of all time debuted at WMIX and his name is Jim Ross. The very next day we’ll see Jerry Lawler wrestling and the dream team will be ever closer to being real.
I’m genuinely excited for them to join back together. Albeit I’m not looking forward to the era of “heel Ross”. I’m guessing whoever wrote WMIX was also behind that idea.
So that’s that! I don’t know if I’ll write about every PPV, or even every month of wrestling (probably not since I’m into April already). But this was such a weird experience for me. Read up on it if you want to be just as confused as me. Or watch it if you want to be deeply deeply deeply confused in real time.