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WWE WrestleMania X-8 (Revisited)

by Scrooge McSuck

WrestleMania X-8

Presented on Pay-Per-View on March 17th, 2002 from the SkyDome (soon to be the Rogers Centre) in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Jim Ross and Jerry "The King" Lawler are calling the action, unless otherwise noted. The show drew an announced attendance of 68,237 (a SkyDome/Rogers Centre record) with an estimated 840,000 PPV buys, down considerably from the previous year's WrestleMania, which topped 1-million buys with international orders. I don't think I've ever done a deep dive recap of the show, with only a short form version existing in the archives, so this should be an interesting trip down memory lane. I skimmed through the Sunday Night Heat that leads us into the PPV, and not much to talk about except for the match to warm up the crowd (oh, and Maven defending the Hardcore Title against Goldust was added since Smackdown on Thursday Night).

Rikishi, Scotty 2 Hotty, and Albert vs. Test, Lance Storm, and Mr. Perfect:

If you're looking at this match without context, you would be surprised that there's some history between most of the participants, mostly on Sunday Night Heat. It's cool to see Perfect on the card in some capacity, having worked the previous SkyDome WrestleMania, but beyond that, he's just another prelim heel after a memorable return at the Rumble. Miss Jackie is the referee for the match, for those keeping track of that stuff. Storm and Albert start. Albert meets the boots in the corner but catches Storm and plants him with a sit-out powerslam. Scotty tags in and immediately gets caught in trouble thanks to a cheap-shot from the apron. Test unloads with right hands in the corner and follows Scotty into the opposite corner with a clothesline. Storm plants Scotty with a slam, but misses a flying elbow drop. Rikishi and Perfect with the tags, and the crowd gives a little pop. Whip to the ropes and Rikishi with a Samoan drop, followed by a Super-Kick that sends Perfect out of the ring. Storm sends Rikishi out with a Super-Kick of his own, setting up Scotty to hit the bulldog and Worm. Test with the big boot to Scotty, and Albert with the Baldo Bomb on Test. Perfect gets crushed in the corner and takes a Stink Face, but he puts his towel over his head before contact, leaving Rikishi with a cling-on towel. Super-Kick from Rikishi and the Banzai Drop finishes at 3:07. The babyfaces dance with Miss Jackie to remind us how corrupted the officials can be. That's like a ref asking for LeBron's autograph on the court. Just a fun little sprint to get the crowd warmed up (and I wonder if Hennig caught crap for not taking the Stink Face, or if that was planned all along).

Saliva performs "Superstar" to kick off the PPV (1 of 2 of the official songs for WrestleMania X-8). I'm surprised the DVD version released way back in 2002 didn't cut the musical performances for obvious reasons (they were editing out various themes at the time for cheapness sake, as well as Creed's "My Sacrifice"). I'll always remember "Superstar" for being the title song of Legends of Wrestling II (available on all platforms, I believe), probably because I didn't revisit this show too often in my cynical 20's. One last sidebar: All through the build to the show, the number 18 was rarely said, but on this show, they're saying it as much as possible. OK, now I think we're all straight, so let's get to the action.

WWF Intercontinental Championship Match:
William Regal (c) vs. Rob Van Dam:

Regal opens Mania in an Intercontinental Championship Match for the second year in a row. Not too much history here, with RVD having won a contender's match after waiting in the wings as Regal finished up his storyline with Edge. RVD opens with right hands and a jumping heel kick. He connects with a standing moonsault and follows up with some mounted right hands. Regal backs him up with an elbow and digs into his trunks for the knuckles, but RVD kicks them away and drops him with another spinning kick. Whip to the corner, Regal ducks a heel kick but gets caught with a springboard missile dropkick. RVD goes to the top but Regal avoids the 5-Star Frog Splash. Regal comes off the ropes with a knee to the side of the head and makes repeated attempts for a cover. Whip and RVD with a cross body press for two. Regal with a drop toe hold to cut RVD off, followed by a standing vertical suplex for two. RVD reverses a whip to the corner and takes Regal over with a back body-drop. Regal counters a whip with his signature neck breaker for a near-fall. Regal is showing off a busted lip as he applies a straight-jacket chin-lock. RVD with the escape, but Rolling Thunder meets knees. Double-underhook into a stack-up powerbomb for two for the Champion. RVD with a small package for two. Regal with another cut-off and some playing to the crowd. RVD forces Regal into the corner and connects with a dropkick. Regal catches the leg on the leg trap heel kick and drops RVD with a half-dragon suplex. Regal fetches his lost knuckles, but referee Brian Hebner disarms him. Regal finds a second pair in his trunks, but RVD knocks him silly with a jumping heel kick and finishes with the 5-Star Frog Splash at 6:22 to win the Intercontinental Championship. A little sloppy at times (the worst case being a miscommunication on the corner monkey-flip sequence), but they were going hard and fast to keep things interesting. ***

WWF European Championship Match:
Diamond Dallas Page (c) vs. Christian:

Talk about rushing through an angle to fit it onto the show. Christian established a cry-baby persona a few months earlier, but the relationship with DDP only came to fruition about three weeks earlier, and after winning one match (with significant help from DDP), Christian betrayed his mentor and here we are. Riveting stuff. At least Christian tries to make chicken salad out of it with his pre-match promo, then buries Toronto and says he moved to Florida to avoid a hometown pop. Christian gets the jump on DDP and celebrates with his belt as Ross notes DDP being the limo driver for Rhythm and Blues at WrestleMania VI. DDP comes back with right hands and a gut-wrench into a stomach buster. DDP with a big clothesline, taking both himself and Christian over the top rope. Back inside, Christian cuts off the corner punches with a low-blow and drops DDP face-first across the turnbuckle. Christian leaves DDP hanging out to dry and shoulder bumps him off the apron, a.k.a. The go-to method of eliminating people in Rumble matches on WWF No Mercy. I'll make that reference to that spot every time until the day I die. Christian wastes time mocking DDP and gets thrown into the corner. Whip across the ring, DDP sweeps the legs to post Christian but wastes time playing to the crowd and goes face-first into the steel. Back inside, Christian ducks the discus lariat and connects with a reverse back breaker for a two-count. Christian goes high risk and gets slammed off the top rope for his effort. DDP hits the discus lariat on the second try. Whip is reversed, DDP fakes Christian out with a right hand and connects with a spinning Liger-Bomb for two. The Unprettier is countered, as it the Diamond Cutter. Christian holds onto the ropes to block it again and hits the inverted DDT for two. Small package from DDP for two. Christian whiffs on a clothesline and the Diamond Cutter finishes at 6:10. I know we did the counter sequence about a minute earlier, but that seemed out of nowhere. Post-match, DDP compliments Christian for not losing his temper, which triggers Christian into having a tantrum. Perfectly fine, but it lacked the heat and intensity of the opener. **½

Jonathan Coachman is backstage with The Rock for a classic interview segment where Rock forces Coachman to get down on his knees and pray ("What up G?!?!") before kicking him off screen.

WWF Hardcore Championship Match:
Maven (c) vs. Goldust:

After the Undertaker held the title hostage for several months (after a great reign from RVD), the title has bounced around from Maven to Goldust to Al Snow and back to Maven in the last few weeks, so the title is back to the comedy prelim spot thanks to the sometimes enforced 24/7 rule. Don't worry, the belt would be unified into the other meaningless belts in the Summer to finally put the title to rest (until the goofy 24/7 Title was born like 15-years later). Anyway, this might go down as one of the most random WrestleMania matches once we exited the early era of the show where matches were made for the sake of filling the card with a bunch of matches. Goldust's weapons are all painted gold, of course. Maven's theme is NOT edited out. I can't imagine being Maven, so new to the business, working in front of 65,000+ fans. Goldust gets the jump (a trend on the show) and throws Maven into the security wall. Goldust lays him out across the barricade and jumps off the apron with a forearm across the chest. They do a slingshot spot that seems to go awry. Maven throws a trash can into Goldust's face and connects with a dropkick for two. Maven counters a suplex with a small package for two. Goldust with a hangman's neck breaker for two. He plants Maven with a gourd buster and pulls out a golden shovel. Goldust dishes out punishment in the corner and the crowd is NOT into this match. They trade shots with trash can lids, knocking each other out. Here's Spike Dudley to cover Maven for the three-count at 3:17. Crowd still barely cares. Crash Holly runs out as well and starts chasing Spike through the crowd. After months of just being "Crash", J.R. and Lawler identify him again as "Crash Holly." Nothing to this one, unfortunately. ½*

Drowning Pool sings "Tear Away" as we get a video package that highlights tonight's Main Event. That would be the Undisputed Championship Match, not Rock vs. Hogan. I liked Saliva's performance better.

Crash and Spike Dudley are brawling backstage until Al Snow drives a golf cart through a giant pile of boxes (James Rolfe would be proud). Spike seems to get away from the carnage until Hurricane swings in with a weak kick and covers him for three and the Hardcore Championship. Al Snow emerges from the boxes and seems disappointed.

Kane vs. Kurt Angle:

For the second straight WrestleMania, Angle is in a somewhat filler role, away from a meaningful title or storyline. Angle did a beat-down on Kane a few weeks ago during one of his "intense" moments, and Kane has been looking to get even with him. Angle debuts a new black-dominant singlet that was the hot topic of the night. Angle runs down Canada for something I'm sure was relevant to 2002 (calling people crybabies who were handed their medals). Angle gets the jump (take a shot), clocking Kane with the ring bell. Angle unloads with right hands as Kane tries to gather himself. Kane fights back but Angle cuts him off with a release German suplex. Kane quickly regains control, sending Angle into the corner and catching him with a double choke lift and slam. Angle avoids a charge to the corner and takes Kane over with a belly-to-belly suplex. Angle with a pair of clotheslines as Jim Ross repeatedly says "head trauma" to sell the backstory of the match. Kane gets sent to the corner and Angle takes him down with a back suplex for a two-count. Angle grabs a front face-lock but Kane escapes by throwing Angle halfway across the ring. Kane shrugs off a flurry of rights and plants Angle with a side slam. Angle counters a standing vertical suplex with the German suplex series for a near-fall. He comes off the top with a clothesline and celebrates. Angle tries it again, but Kane nails him on the way down. They trade blows, with Kane gaining the upper hand. Whip and Kane with a back body-drop. He sends Angle to the corner and hits a tilt-o-whirl powerslam for two. Kane meets an elbow in the corner but recovers in time to hit a Chokeslam. Angle escapes a Tombstone attempt, twisting the mask around. Angle Slam connects, but Kane kicks out at two. Kane escapes the Ankle Lock with an enzuigiri. HEAD TRAUMA! Kane climbs the ropes and Angle runs up to take him down with a belly-to-belly suplex. Angle counters a Chokeslam and we get an UGLY, SLOPPY sequence where Angle rolls Kane up and uses the ropes to get the three-count at 10:12. For the second straight Mania, Angle wins with a sloppy roll-up. Took time to get going, but a solid match with an unfortunately ugly finish. **¾

The Hurricane is sneaking around backstage and finds himself in the dressing room with the Godfather's escorts, so he ducks behind a room divider for dressing privacy. Why is he holding a broom stick? Oh, for the obvious visual of him holding it between his legs. Godfather walks in and chases Hurricane away with the broom. The Godfather is more worried about his struggling escort business than trying to win that garbage title.

No Disqualification Match: Ric Flair vs. The Undertaker:

It's tough to remember that Ric Flair wasn't intended to be a full-time wrestler (or an active wrestler at all after the match with Vince at the Royal Rumble). Flair stuck his nose in Undertaker's business, so Undertaker has done everything he can to get Flair to accept a match, including assaults of best friend Arn Anderson and son David. For Flair to accept the match, his power as co-owner was suspended until after WrestleMania. Ross notes Taker's record is 9-0, and honestly, this is the first year his record is brought to our attention, though in earlier years he was "unbeaten" at some earlier shows, with no numbers ever given. Flair rushes the ring and immediately starts throwing hands. The action quickly spills to the outside, with Flair tackling Taker across the announcer's table. I'm glad we didn't open this blood feud with a standard collar-elbow lockup. Flair makes the mistake of trying to dive off the apron, getting caught and rammed into the post. Back inside, Taker cuts Flair off and throws a flurry of strikes. Whip across the ring and Flair can't execute his flip onto the apron. They reset and try it again, successfully this time, and Taker boots him to the floor for good measure. More right hands from Taker busts Flair open above his right eye. Ross completely discredits Taker's possible win, saying Flair is in great shape for being north of 50, but "not in game shape". Back inside, Taker continues with his methodical pace. Flair's cut has opened up more while Taker has a small scratch on his cheek. Flair fights out of the corner with chops, but Taker quickly cuts him off and lays him out with a corner clothesline. We get a legit LOL from Lawler as he whines about Taker's cut and ignoring Flair being a bloody mess. Taker goes to the high rent district and takes Flair all the way from the top rope with a super-plex! Booger Red pulls Flair up at two so he can dish out more punishment.

Flair keeps trying, but he's clearly outmatched. J.R. told us so earlier, remember? Taker wastes time trash talking and gets yanked off the top rope. Flair ducks a running boot, straddling Taker across the top rope. Flair retrieves the lead pipe from Taker's bike and whacks him across the top of the head, busting Taker open. They take the fight into the aisle, with Flair laying into Taker with a sign he ripped from the barricade. Back inside, Flair with measured strikes. Taker with the goozle but Flair counters with a punt to the yam-bag. Flair with a sweep of the leg and the Figure-Four is applied in the center of the ring! Taker with the zombie sit-up, goozles his way free and plants Flair with a chokeslam for a near-fall. Taker isn't happy with Charles Robinson not counting three and rams him into the corner. Taker grabs the pipe, but Flair fights him off and ARN ANDERSON runs in with a spine-buster from out of nowhere for an explosive two-count. Taker goes after Anderson, who joins the blade club for the hell of it. Taker puts him in the dragon sleeper until Flair saves with a chair shot across the back. Taker bounces off the ropes and disarms Flair with a boot to the face. He tries getting Flair up for the Last Ride, but they can't pull it off, so Taker hits the Tombstone instead (popping the crowd) to score the victory at 18:47. Post-match, Taker lariats Robinson, leaving three bodies down. Taker gestures to the crowd he's now 10-0 at WrestleMania. You know, I think we might have something to work with here. The pace was a little slow for my taste, but they told a solid story and we got one of the greatest hope spots, so I can't complain too much about this one. ***½

Edge vs. Booker T:

We all know the storyline purpose behind this one, but in case anyone forgot (or doesn't care to remember pointless filler under-card feuds that only last about 2-weeks), Edge was given the sponsorship deal for a Japanese shampoo commercial that Booker thought was going to be his, and Edge also called Booker a dum-dum for his "Weakest Link" performance. Jim Ross tells us the story of Edge being at WrestleMania VI way back in 1990. A sign facing the hard camera tells us all we need to know about this match. Lockup into the ropes and they trade blows, with Edge getting the better of the exchange. Booker grabs a side headlock and comes off the ropes with a shoulder block. Crisscross and Edge with a dropkick, followed by a modified face-buster for two. Booker catches Edge and drops him across the top rope. He sends Edge over the top rope with a clothesline and follows him out with a forearm off the apron. Back inside, Booker busts out a missile dropkick for a two-count. Booker cuts off a comeback attempt with an Alabama Slam for another near-fall. Edge with a hurricanrana from the top turnbuckle that drops Booker awkwardly head-first across the back of Edge. Whip and Edge with a spinning heel kick, followed by a pair of clotheslines. Booker buries a knee to the midsection, but whiffs on a Scissors Kick. Edge with a flying heel kick for a two-count. Booker with a sunset flip out of the corner, but Edge rolls through and sends Booker to the corner. Booker avoids the Spear and lays Edge out with a Super-Kick. Booker busts out a WrestleMania Spin-a-rooni and follows up with the Scissors Kick for a 2.99 count. Edge counters the Book End and the Spear only gets a two-count(?!). Edge busts out a terrible Spin-a-rooni and after a series of counters puts Booker away with the Edge-ecution (DDT) at 6:32. Standard TV match. They were trying to make something of the time they had, but there wasn't much meat on the bone. **

Jonathan Coachman questions The Hurricane for his run-in with the Godfather's escorts. He lets us know he's not a Hurri-Perv. Mighty Molly whacks Hurricane with a frying pan and covers him to win the Hardcore Championship.

"Stone Cold" Steve Austin vs. Scott Hall (w/ Kevin Nash):

When the nWo made their WWF debut at No Way Out, they immediately set their attention on the Rock and Steve Austin. While Rock and Hogan gravitated towards each other, Hall set out to embarrass Austin, which usually led to Austin humiliating Hall with beer during a time where that is a crappy position to put someone who was struggling with sobriety. As much as the feud isn't well remembered, they tried building this one up as a big deal on TV (and Nash was on the sideline just in case Hall wasn't capable of performing, wink-wink). Austin jumps Hall before the bell, stomping him down in the corner. Hall goes to the eyes to cut him off and throws a series of rights. Whip to the ropes and Austin with the Thesz Press, followed by the F-U elbow drop. Hall gets to taste the turnbuckle, with a "What" chant for each shot. Hall powders out and is finally able to remove his vest. Austin knocks Nash from behind, sending him into the post, and brings the fight to Hall. Back inside, Hall catches Austin with his head down and lays him out with a clothesline for a two-count. Nash removes a turnbuckle pad while Austin and Hall trade blows in the corner. Whip is reversed, with Austin hitting the exposed steel. I love Jerry Lawler describing what a receipt is to justify Nash getting a shot on Austin on the outside.

Back inside, Hall sends Austin from corner to corner, charging in each time with a clothesline. Hall with a fallaway slam for two and a decent little pop. Whip and Hall counters a hip toss with another clothesline. Nash with another shot behind the back of referee Tim White. Decent "Razor" chant as Hall puts the boots to Austin. We get some uncharacteristically loud spot-calling from these two followed by Austin planting Hall with a spine-buster. Austin with a Stunner out of nowhere, but Nash pulls the referee out of the ring. Nash hops in the ring, throwing forearms on Austin. Austin hits a low blow on Nash to avoid a chair shot and lays them both out with Stunners. Jack Doan runs in to count and Nash drops an elbow on him to stop the count. Austin sends Nash to the floor, then counters the Razor's Edge by dumping Hall over the top rope. The rest of the WWF referees come out to eject Nash, and the crowd boos. "I think Nash just got his second technical foul", says J.R. Hall counters a Stunner and hits a Stunner of his own for a two-count. Austin counters a Stunner, hits a third on Hall, and finally a fourth that sends Hall into orbit before crashing down to earth and covering him for three at 9:51. Perfect example of a great dream match on paper, but even with all the gaga at the end, these two didn't have the chemistry to pull off anything more than being "just fine", whether it was diminished skill (Hall) or a lack of motivation (Austin). **

WWF Tag Team Championship Match:
Billy & Chuck (c) vs. The Hardy Boyz vs. The Dudley Boyz (w/ Stacy Keibler) vs. The APA:

Elimination Rules for this one. OK, so the APA won a Tag Title opportunity at No Way Out, but then Billy and Chuck won the belts literally a week later despite losing in that gauntlet match. Billy and Chuck lured the APA out to a bar that was having a special night that is insulting to a specific demographic of the community, so the APA cashed in their shot before Mania and lostů and now we've got this match because the world needs more Hardy Boyz vs Dudley Boyz after beating it into the ground in 2000-01. Saliva plays the Dudleys to the ring, with Stacy stopping off to show off her dance moves. Something tells me that might be the highlight of the match. No Lita with the Hardys, as she's scheduled to compete in just a short while. Billy and Chuck have new yellow gear for tonight. WRESTLEMANIA GEAR BABY! The APA jumps the Champions before the bell. Bradshaw goes for a fallaway slam but Billy saves with a neck breaker. Bradshaw no-sells and quickly regains control, hitting Billy with the slam instead. Chuck takes down Faarooq with a clothesline and stomps away in the corner. Faarooq avoids a Famouser, planting Billy with a powerslam. Bradshaw runs wild again, hitting Billy with a DDT for two. D'Von tags in and is bowled over with a pair of shoulders. Faarooq spikes Bubba with a spine-buster and we've got all sorts of heck breaking loose. Clothesline from Hell to Billy, but then the 3-D sends Bradshaw packing at 3:25.

Jeff and Matt get their first taste of action, sending Bubba out of the ring and hitting D'Von with their tandem offense. "Who the hell is legal?" asks J.R. The Dudleys set up a table in a match where that seems counterproductive to worry about. Jeff hits Bubba with Whisper in the Wind as the crowd chants for tables. Stacy hops on the apron and shows off her assets. Jeff slaps her behind and gives her a liplock before shoving her off the apron. What an awesome and disgusting 10-seconds. Bubba Bomb to Billy, who just popped in for whatever reason. Jeff gets sent to the corner and starts selling his way out as Bubba tries to charge in, so they redo the spot with Jeff getting the feet up. Stacy is still selling as I noticed D'Von decided to take over the corner previously occupied by the APA. D'Von with a snap suplex on Jeff for a two-count. After stealing the show in 2000 and 2001, watching these guys sleepwalk through a normal match is amazing. Spinning back elbow from D'Von. Jeff with an ugly counter into a reverse DDT, and I'm starting to suspect maybe Jeff isn't 100%. Matt with the hot tag, running wild on both Bubba and D'Von. Bubba misses a senton (with extra elevation) and Matt follows with a flying leg drop for two. Billy shoves D'Von off the top rope and through the table at ringside, and Bubba is sent packing after a Twist of Fate and Swanton at 11:50. Chuck with a Super-Kick on Matt for two. Matt escapes the One and Only and connects with the Side Effect. Whip to the corner and we get Poetry in Motion. Twist of Fate to Chuck, followed by the Swanton. Billy with the Famouser on Jeff and Chuck covers for a near-fall. Billy with a belt shot on Jeff and THAT is good to retain at 13:51. Did Jeff kick out not realizing that was the finish? Complete mess, with a subdued crowd after a hot opening couple of minutes. MVP of the match was Stacy. *

Mighty Molly is trying to find sanctuary but she has a door slammed in her face. Christian reveals himself to be the assailant, quips "stand back, there's a new Champion coming through!", and covers her to win the Hardcore Championship. Ross is disgusted with Christian celebrating for beating a woman.

The Rock vs. "Hollywood" Hulk Hogan:

As addressed earlier, the nWo came to the WWF and on their first night, made it clear they were targeting Steve Austin and The Rock. The night after No Way Out, Hogan and Rock had their famous confrontation, pitting wrestling's past vs wrestling's future in the ultimate battle of icon vs icon. Unlike Austin and Hall, beyond that segment, Hogan and Rock were mostly kept apart, except for the Tag Match on Raw where Hogan pinned Rock in the middle of the ring. Before the match, Hogan tells Hall and Nash to leave everything to him, with neither man taking the news too well and vowing to be waiting in the wings regardless. The crowd is hot for Hogan, despite being the vile nemesis of the beloved Rock. The production crew desperately tries to find anti-Hogan signs, but they're in a losing battle tonight. "Whether it's nostalgia or respect, there's a lot of Hollywood Hogan fans here tonight." They go face-to-face with flash bulbs going off like crazy. "We'll never see Tyson and Ali, we'll never see Babe Ruth and Barry Bonds, but we are going to witness the Rock and the Hulk, only at WrestleMania."

Lockup and Hogan with the big shove, popping the crowd like the second coming of Christ just teleported into the ring. Hogan grabs a side headlock and comes off the ropes with a shoulder block. Hogan poses some more and the crowd eats it up. Ross, STOP CALLING IT A MIXED REACTION. It's 90/10 Hogan. Hogan with clubbing blows as he calls Rock a meatball. Whip to the ropes and Hogan with a big clothesline. Rock ducks a second clothesline and dives off the ropes with a clothesline of his own, drawing a chorus of boos. Rock gestures for Hogan to bring it, triggering a shoving match. Rock unloads with right hands, with Hogan taking a powder after failing to take the bump over the top rope. Rock gives chase, sending Hogan back in the ring. Whip is reversed, Rock catches Hogan with his head down and lays him out with a clothesline. Hogan fights off a Rock Bottom attempt and hits Rock with a running elbow. Hogan drops a series of elbows and rakes the eyes for good measure. Whip to the corner and Hogan charges in with a clothesline. They have a miscommunication in the opposite corner. Rock with an awkward spear coming off the ropes, followed by a series of mounted rights. Hogan immediately pops up and plants Rock with a back suplex for a two-count. Hogan slaps on an abdominal stretch, and somewhere Gorilla Monsoon is thinking he doesn't have it applied for maximum effect. Hogan busts out a rolling school boy for a two-count. The crowd pops for the back rakes and Hogan can't contain himself. Rock turns things around, unloading with chops. Whip is reversed and Hogan meets an elbow in the corner. Rock charges out and is sent to the canvas with a modified choke slam.

Hogan keeps digging into his bag of tricks, choking Rock with his wrist tape. Rock fights back with right hands until Hogan side-steps and tosses Rock over the top rope. This time it's Hogan bringing the fight to the floor, sending Rock into the steps and dropping his chest across the barricade. Rock stops Hogan from undressing the table and fetches a chair, only to be disarmed by referee Mike Chioda and leaving him open for a free shot from Hogan. Back inside, Hogan with another cut-off, knocking Rock into Chioda. Rock reverses a whip and plants Hogan with a spine-buster. Rock with the Sharpshooter and Hogan gets to the ropes, only for Rock to pull him back to the center of the ring. Hogan taps, but the referee is still down. Rock wastes time checking on the referee, giving Hogan time to recover and hit him low before connecting with a Rock Bottom for a near-fall. The weightlifting belt comes off and Hogan whips Rock like a mule. Rock cuts Hogan off with a DDT and gives Hogan a taste of his own medicine, much to the chagrin of the capacity crowd. Rock Bottom connects and Hogan kick out at two! "IS HE GOING TO HULK UP?! HE IS!" The crowd LOSES THEIR COLLECTIVE MINDS AS HOGAN HULKS UP ON THE ROCK. Three right hands, big boot and leg drop and the Rock kicks out at two! I don't care, that whole sequence still gives me goosebumps. Hogan tries the sequence again, but Rock avoids the leg drop. Rock Bottom from the Rock! He pulls Hogan up and hits a third Rock Bottom! Rock nips and comes off the ropes with the People's Elbow, and that puts Hogan away at 16:24!

Post-match, Hogan offers his hand and Rock accepts, showing that he can come back from anything, even attempted vehicular homicide. This brings out a disappointed Scott Hall and Kevin Nash, who put a 2-on-1 beating on Hogan until the Rock makes the save, with Hogan and Rock working together to clear the ring. The post-match fun continues, as we get Rock encouraging Hogan to pose for the crowd and taking a backseat for the occasion ("Hogan must pose!") before both men leave with newfound respect for each other. Maybe not a technical masterpiece with some obvious missteps throughout, but for atmosphere and overall presentation with some amazing commentary and camera work (yes, there were times where it wasn't a detriment to the product), this is what makes professional wrestling one of the greatest forms of entertainment, and all these years later, it still hits right in the feels. ****

Big Show is hanging out with the fans at WWF New York. Or The World. I forgot what it was called in 2002. This clip would come back as part of the "Big Show is a WrestleMania loser" storyline with Cody Rhodes about a decade later.

WWF Women's Championship Match:
Jazz (c) vs. Trish Stratus vs. Lita:

I feel bad for these women having to follow that emotional roller coaster. Jazz defeated Trish for the title about a month earlier on Raw, and has taken on all comers since. Lita feels shoe-horned into the match honestly. Trish has her special gear with the maple leaf on her red and white attire. Lita comes out to her new theme song and thankfully they adjusted it from playing the weak intro. Lita and Jazz start the action before Trish gets to the ring. The former enemies turned besties work together as Lawler pervs on Trish. Jazz applies a single-leg crab on Trish but gives it up to cut off Lita and put her in a double chicken-wing. The crowd is spent, but the women are still working with all their gusto. Whip is reversed and Lita with a sloppy spinning head-scissors. Lita with a spin-out slam and cover for a near-fall. Lawler is still mad at Jazz ruining his wet t-shirt contest at Madison Square Garden. Trish is back in and surprises Jazz with a roll-up for two. Lita with a flying body press but Trish rolls through for another two-count. Lita with a clothesline to Jazz and Trish with the Chick Kick and bulldog on Lita, but Jazz saves. Jazz with a jumping frog splash on Lita for two. Jazz with a fisherman brain-buster on Trish but Lita saves. Trish counters a slam with a reverse DDT and Lita saves again. Trish and Lita trade blows, with Lita getting the better of the exchange. Whip and Trish spins-out awkwardly on a back body-drop. Twist of Fate to Jazz and Lita nearly drops Trish on her head with a slam. Lita with a moonsault but Trish brings up the knees and stacks her up for two. Trish and Lita smack heads, but recover to take Jazz out again. Lita blocks the bulldog, throwing Trish into the corner. Trish straddles Lita across the top turnbuckle and Jazz hits an avalanche Fisherman Buster to retain at 6:16. They worked hard, with the usual sloppy execution from one of the participants, but the crowd didn't care. **

Christian tries to get out of the parking garage, but Maven sneaks up from behind with a roll-up to win the Hardcore Championship and runs away in Christian's cab to add insult to embarrassment. So to recap, the Hardcore Title went from Maven to Spike to Hurricane to Molly to Christian and finally back to Maven. Not technically a match, but the show-long gimmick of the title was amusing. I expected a better tantrum from Christian, but it is what it is.

WWF Undisputed Championship Match:
Chris Jericho (c) (w/ Stephanie McMahon) vs. Triple H:

We've finally reached the Main Event (and final match) of the night. Triple H won the Royal Rumble for the right to challenge for the Undisputed Title, but then his relationship with Stephanie fell apart, she screwed him over and handed his shot to Kurt Angle, only for Flair to nuh-uh and give Trips a rematch to win back his title match, and from there Stephanie entered a business relationship with Jericho, treating him like a second-rate citizen, and in the last week or so before the PPV, exploited Hunter's surgically repaired quadriceps and nearly had his precious dog, Lucy, killed. I need an aspirin just typing all that out. Triple H is played out by Drowning Pool, who probably had the worst theme song ever for Triple H. I didn't like the King of Kings theme from Motorhead, but it was leagues better than this mess. Even in 2002, I never listened to this track on the Forceable Entry album (honestly, like 4-5 of the songs were solid, the rest were trash).

Chris Jericho vs Triple H

Jericho teases going for the leg before settling for a standard lockup. They take it to the corner, with Hunter fighting off another attempt to grab the leg. Hunter with a pair of right hands, followed by a back body-drop. Mostly subdued crowd so far as H lays out Jericho with a pair of short clotheslines. Jericho backs him up with chops but is nailed coming off the ropes with a high knee. Hunter sells the leg on the landing, buying Jericho time to regroup and dump him over the top rope. Jericho teases a dive but takes his eyes off his target and gets sent crashing across the top of the barricade. H starts undressing the Spanish announcer's table, but survives to live another spot as Jericho sends Helmsley into the ring and clips the knee. Hunter comes out of the corner hot and begins punishing the left leg of Jericho. Hunter gets a Figure-Four applied, but Stephanie rakes his eyes to break the hold. Hunter pulls her to the apron and sidesteps a charging Jericho, causing both to go crashing to the arena floor. Hunter sends Stephanie into the ring, because the world (in 2002) is OK with male-on-female violence. He teases a Pedigree but Jericho saves with a missile dropkick. Stephanie gets a cheap shot in with referee Earl Hebner distracted, but the crowd is still not too into this one. Back inside, Jericho continues to work the left leg. Stephanie with another cheap shot and Jericho busts out Bret Hart's turnbuckle Figure-Four. Back inside, Jericho keeps going with what works: methodical work of the leg. I don't dislike Triple H these days as much as I did back in the day, but trying to be a modern day hybrid of Harley Race and Ric Flair sometimes wasn't the best for the audience he was playing for. Hunter counters a wild clothesline with a neck breaker. Whip is reversed and Hunter with his signature knee to the face. Jericho attempts to dive on H's back but it turns into an ugly throw that seemed like it was destined to be a spine-buster. Literally as I type that, Hunter catches him off the ropes with a spine-buster for a two-count.

Double reversal and Hunter takes a big bump over the top rope. Now Jericho undresses the English announcer's table. Jericho goes for the Walls of Jericho but Hunter boots him in the face. He teases the Pedigree but Jericho counters, dumping Hunter through the Spanish table. Back inside, Jericho hits the Lionsault for a near-fall. J.R. trying to sell this as possibly Hunter's last match because of the severity of his quadriceps is some gag-inducing nonsense. Jericho blocks another Pedigree attempt and turns him over with the Walls of Jericho. Hunter fights for the ropes, but Jericho pulls him to the center of the ring. We get a clean shot of Jericho with a busted mouth. Hunter fights again and finally gets to the ropes, forcing the break. Jericho takes advantage of a Stephanie distraction to fetch a chair, but Hunter kicks the chair back in his face and plants Jericho on the chair with a DDT for a two-count. Stephanie tries to use the chair, but Hebner disarms her. Hunter again teases some violence and FINALLY plants her with the Pedigree. Not quite the reaction such a spot would get 10-15 years later. Jericho whacks Hunter over the head with the chair and covers for a 2.999 count. Hunter counters Jericho's attempt at a Pedigree, boots him coming off the turnbuckle, and finishes with the Pedigree at 18:41 to complete the comeback. Good for him, now please turn heel so we don't have to suffer through babyface Triple H anymore. The crowd just never came back from Hogan/Rock. These two had fine chemistry but something just didn't click to get them to that next level. It told the story they were going for, but with weak crowd reactions to a lot of it, that takes away some of the enjoyment. ***¼

Final Thoughts: For years, I considered WrestleMania X-8 a weak card, at least as far as a "WrestleMania" card goes, but watching it all these years later, and digesting all the TV building up to the show, the show itself has mostly good-great matches, but at the same time it feels like it could've been so much better. After getting through Taker/Flair and starting Austin/Hall (with Hogan/Rock still to come), this card had me thinking this really is a blueprint of what a phenomenal lineup of a WWF vs WCW/ECW card could've been. Going along with those matches, we've got Booker T, RVD, and DDP to name a few right there as other significant pieces, but two of them were in meaningless feuds and another was fighting his way out of the dog house for being a potato machine. OK, I'm going off topic and trying to re-book the Invasion, so we'll move on. With that said, there's plenty of solid performances to be found, with a solid ratio of satisfactory finishes. Even with the show ending a little flat (but with the right finish), there's enough good to out-weigh the bad-mediocre stuff to make for an entertaining watch.

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