WWF WrestleMania VIII
by Scrooge McSuck - So many reviews, and we're still not even half-way home! After the experiment of making WrestleMania four hours with 12-14 matches per card, someone learned a lesson and dropped the PPV down to 3 hours and only 8-9 matches, giving us less filler than usual. Thank God. I can't handle any more super-rushed 90 second matches on the biggest Pay-Per-View of the year! I just can't!
- Live from the Hoosier Dome in Indianapolis, Indiana, seating something like 80,000 people or whatever number WWF came up with, since at this point, I don't care. Commentary is once again handled by the team of Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenan. Before the matches begin, Reba MacIntyre sings the national anthem. Heenan naturally calls her "Areba", and since watching this PPV, I keep refering to her as that.
- "El Matador" Tito Santana vs. Shawn Michaels (w/ Sensational Sherri):
Filler Match already... Jesus, the show is cut down and they still can't open the show with an actual match with build up?! Since the last WrestleMania, Santana went back to his roots of being a Bull Fighter, while Shawn Michaels dumped his partner and gone solo. Fairly early in Michaels' heel run, as he's still working the kinks out of his old formula style. Worthless note for a dated phrase: Shawn's jacket has "I'm Too Sexy For This Crowd" stiched in the back. Decent match to open the show, but neither guy seems to really get going, and not in the half-assed kind of way. The crowd is still into it though, so that kinda makes up for it. Kind of awkward finish, as Santana tries slamming Michaels back into the ring from the apron, but a slight delay eventually leads to Michaels landing on top, and that's enough to pick up the victory at 10:37. Me thinks Sherri fucked up there, since the spot usually includes the manager sweeping the leg from under her protege's opponent and holding it down out of site of the referee. Santana's WrestleMania record at this point is now 1-7, and was his final WrestleMania appearence. No, I don't count his match versus Papa Shango at WrestleMania IX, since dark matches that aren't televised don't count. Weird Note: Santana's first and last WrestleMania matches opened the show. (**1/2)
- Special Interview conducted by Mean Gene Okerlund, reintroducing the Legion of Doom, who had gone AWOL sometime in February, losing the tag titles to Money Inc. in the process. The LOD have with them their former manager from the AWA and NWA, Paul Ellering. Sadly, this whole thing came to a hault when they introduced a guiding light for the LOD... Rocco, a ventriliquist dummy. Send all hate mail to whoever you like at this point.
- The Undertaker (w/ Paul Bearer) vs. Jake "The Snake" Roberts:
Backstory for this match: Jake Roberts and the Undertaker were doing their best to wreck havoc in the WWF, including targeting the Ultimate Warrior (who eventually was "suspended") and Randy Savage. Following the February '92 Saturday Night's Main Event, the Undertaker prevented Roberts from bashing Savage and Elizabeth with a steel chair, then gave the explanation that he's on anyone's side but Roberts. O-kay. Oh yeah, and the Undertaker no sold about 20 steel chair shots in about a 3 minute period. You know, the usual. Not too good of a match that's just used to set up the Undertaker as the next big monster (again). Roberts conencts with a series of DDT's, but stupidly goes after Paul Bearer outside of the ring. The Undertaker sits up, follows Roberts out, and Tombstone piledrives him on the floor. Too bad Roberts' head was nowhere near the floor, otherwise that would've been pretty cool. The Undertaker casually rolled Roberts back in and makes the cover to end Jake Roberts' run with the WWF at 6:41. Roberts would head to WCW a few months later, then vanished into obscurity other than a few Indy bookings before returning to the WWF in January of 1996. (3/4*)
- Mean Gene Okerlund with a backstage interview with both Roddy Piper and Bret Hart. Rather funny interview, as Roddy Piper tells a whacky story about Bret's mother making sandwiches with only once slice of bread and then rambling incoherently. Bret is playing it straight though, so Piper has to go to the ring and teach him a lesson.
- WWF Intercontinental Championship Match:
"Rowdy" Roddy Piper © vs. Bret "Hitman" Hart:
Rather thrown together match here. Bret Hart dropped the belt to the Mountie a few days before the Royal Rumble, and because he wasn't in "condition" to wrestle (I heard his contract was about to end and they needed to get the title off him... just incase), so Roddy Piper replaced him at the PPV and won the title himself, ending at the time the shortest IC Title reign ever. Very good face vs. face match, but much like all of them, someone has to play the subtle heel character, and Roddy Piper does his best at it. Biggest note of the match is Bret Hart blading against the orders of WWF Management. Shenanigans happen, and Piper finds himself with the ring bell ready to ring Bret's... uh, bell. He decides not to, though, and tries to win the match the hard way. Piper with his signature Sleeper Hold applied, but Bret Hart kicks off the turnbuckles, lands on top of Piper, and pinning his shoulders long enough for the three count at 13:39, and Piper's first clean pinfall loss on WWF Television. After the match, Piper makes nice with Hart, and straps the belt around his waist to "pass the torch", as you could say. Very good match, but I wasn't into enough to call it a great one like some people have. This I believe was Piper's last match in the WWF until King of the Ring '94, but I'm not 100% sure. (***1/2)
- Next up we get a Interview from the newest member of the WBF... LEX LUGER! Fresh off a World Title run in WCW. Luger and Heenan make nice, and to show how much of a real man's man Luger is, he chugs a glass of milk. I'm sure someone expected me to make fun of Luger about Elizabeth's death a few years ago, but I SWERVED YOU! AHAHAHAHA!
- "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan, Sgt. Slaughter, Virgil, Big Bossman vs. The Nasty Boys, The Mountie, Repo Man (w/ Jimmy Hart):
More Filler, but at least this time someone was smart enough to throw a bunch of people into one match instead of branching it out into three, like Duggan & Slaughter vs. The Nasties, Bossman vs. Mountie, and Virgil vs. Repo. Speaking of Virgil, he was sporting a nose-guard for this match, selling a "Broken nose" at the hands of Sid Justice. Wow, imagine THOSE matches at WrestleMania. Special Ring Introductions done by Ray Combs, who hosted the Family Feud from 1990-1995. The cancelation of his show and personal problems lead to him commiting suicide. He bashes the heel team with jokes in the form of his "survey's of 100 people." Onto the match, and it's as bad as you would expect. Nothing much happens, as everyone goes through the motions until all heck breaks loose, and Virgil rolls up Brian Knobbs for the three count at 6:30. No one really cares though, since the crowd burned themselves out on the last match. (1/4*)
- WWF World Championship Match:
Ric Flair © (w/ Mr. Perfect) vs. "Macho Man" Randy Savage:
In one of those rare instances, this match was booked before there was an angle set up! However, that actually was a good thing, since it played into the storyline that did develope. Flair uses mind-games to fuck with Savage's mind, pretending that he had an affair with Elizabeth ("she was mine before she was yours!"), and kept showing photos of them together... nothing dirty, though, this was 1992, and Elizabeth wasn't some ho bag! Naturally, Savages is really pissed off and wants to rip Flair's throat out.
Good "old school" formula match with a slow start that burns into a hot finish. Flair does his usual blade job, also against orders of management (and got a tongue lashing, if rumors are correction). Near the end, Elizabeth trots down despite the protests of Dave Hebner, wearing tennis shoes with his suit... someone call the fashion police! Savage manages to survive the Figure-Four, but is too hurt to follow up on anything. Flair starts getting cocky though, and Savage surprises him with a school boy roll-up (and a handful of tights) for the three count and his last World Championship in the WWF at 18:02. After the match, Flair and Hennig do a small number on Savage, then Flair steals a kiss from Elizabeth. She in return, beats the snot out of Flair. YOU GO, GIRL! Once again, Savage delivers another classic match at WrestleMania. (****)
- Tatanka vs. "The Model" Rick Martel:
This was fairly early in Tatanka's run, as he only debuted a few weeks after the Royal Rumble. Rick Martel is back, but at this point of his career, was playing job boy more often than winning matches against actual WWF SuperStars. The crowd isn't much into this one, thanks to Savage/Flair sucking the life out of everyone. Both men go through a decent but unspectacular match that ends rather quickly with Tatanka finishing Martel off with the Papoose to Go™, later dubbed the End of the Trail. WWF sure sucked at coming up with names for moves. For no reason whatsoever, this "feud" developed AFTER the match, as Martel went on to steal a few of Tatanka's feathers, and they had a ReMatch at the '92 Survivor Series. (3/4*)
- WWF Tag Team Championship Match:
Money Inc. © (w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. The Natural Disasters:
(Ted Dibiase & Irwin R. Schyster vs. Earthquake & Typhoon)
Some history to this match, so I'll try and explain it all with as little detail as possible. Jimmy Hart screwed over the Disasters by giving their title shot to the thrown-together team of Ted Dibiase and I.R.S., who took advantage of an injured Hawk and won the Tag Titles (at an untelevised event). The Disasters are pissed off and dumped Hart as their manager, but were still acting heel-ish. Jack Tunney then ruled that Money Inc. (the new name for the new champs) would make their first title defense against the Natural Disasters at WrestleMania VIII. Very dull-ish tag match, since the fans aren't much into the Disasters yet, and Dibiase was no longer the #1 heel like he was at WrestleMania IV. After a lot of nothing, Money Inc. decides to take the easy way out and are intentionally Counted-Out at 8:37, giving the Disasters a cheap win. The Natural Disasters got their revenge eventually, winning the titles from Money Inc. at a TV Taping in late June. Money Inc. regained the titles a few months later though, on an episode of PrimeTime Wrestling. (1/2*)
- "The Rocket" Owen Hart vs. Skinner:
Filler match and the show is starting to run a bit low on time. Owen had been working tag matches up to this point, but Jim Neidhart left for only the second of a million times, so here's his first shot at the big time in singles matches since his run as the Blue Blazer in 1988-89. Before the match, that filthy pig Skinner spits tobacco jucie in Owen's face. THAT'S NOT HYGENIC! Owen pretty much no sells it though, and skins the cat back in to roll up Skinner, his only offensive move of the match, for the three count at 1:09. It only took Owen 1 minute to beat Skinner, while Bret took 13. BRET'S HOLDING HIM BACK IN HIS SHADOW! (DUD)
- Hulk Hogan vs. Sid Justice (w/ Dr. Harvey Wippleman):
It's now time for the second half of the double Main Event! This all goes back to the Royal Rumble, where Sid eliminated Hogan from the Rumble Match (every man for himself!), and in return, Hogan cheated to help Ric Flair dump out Sid. Following this, at a WrestleMania Press Conference, Jack Tunney announced Hulk Hogan as the #1 Contender to Ric Flair's title. Sid didn't agree, claiming the decision was BOGUS! Sid later "apologized", but during a match against Ric Flair and the Undertaker, Sid left Hogan to the wolves, officially turning heel. A few weeks later, Sid destroyed the set of the Barber Shop (ran by Hogan's lap dog), and for no reason broke Virgil's nose! That's one Vicious dude... wait, I mean Justice was served! With all of that happening, Hogan gave up his title shot and instead took on a match with Sid Justice, and announced that this might be his last match. On a special PrimeTime Wrestling, Vince McMahon interviewed the Hulkster, who for the first time in a while, talked like a normal person and seemed very humble.
Now onto the match! But first, I should note that this was Wippleman's high point as a WWF manager, as he later on would take on such top stars as Kamala, Well Dunn, Adam Bomb, Kwang, and Berthe Faye. Oh yeah, and he eventually won the WWF Womens Title. Now for real, onto the match! It's as bad as you would expect, since Sid was a terrible worker and by this point of his career, Hogan wasn't even close to being able to carry someone like Sid. They go through a boring match, dominated for the most part by Sid, until Hogan kicked out of the Powerbomb. HE'S HULKING UP FOR THE LAST TIME! Hogan with a big boot-slam-leg drop, but Sid kicks out at two! For no reason a disqualification is called at 12:25, as Hogan beats up on Harvey Wippleman. For no reason Part II, Papa Shango runs out to help do a double teaming on the Hulkster.. until THE ULTIMATE WARRIOR Returns to clean house! Warrior and Hogan clear the ring of the bad guys as Hogan celebrates in the ring for one... last... time. Until the next year, when he came back for WrestleMania IX. Sid would be gone from the WWF about 5 weeks later (it was Softball season, afterall), Warrior/Shango had a lame feud, and by the time next year, Warrior was gone again, and Shango was hanging around, showing up now and then to do jobs. (1/2*)
- I should note that because of certain problems, the match scheduled between the British Bulldog and the Berzerker did not take place at WrestleMania. And thus kicks off a three year tradition of a match advertised for the show being yanked from the card without previous warning. I guess the tiny "Card Subject to Change" printed on programs is true. They don't have to tell us!
Final Thoughts: Nothing more than a two-match show. While Piper/Bret and Savage/Flair were both very good-great, it doesn't make it one of the best WrestleMania's. The opener is as bland as a Shawn Michaels match can get, the second main event was dog shit, and everything else not mentioned isn't worth the time of day. Mild Recommendation for WrestleMania VIII, but I say stop the tape after Flair/Savage, since everything after that is garbage.