WWF WRESTLEMANIA VIII
“THE MACHO/FLAIR AFFAIR!”
“FRIENDS TORN APART!”
It was April 5, 1990 from the Hoosier Dome in Indianapolis, Indiana. This would be the first WrestleMania (since the original) to clock in at under 3 hours. The WWF had dropped the fourth hour of the show and condensed the show down into the more common three hour format they used for SummerSlam, Survivor Series, and the Royal Rumble. With less time, comes less matches, and it was probably for the best as by 1992 the talent pool had really become shallow compared to years past. Don’t get me wrong, there were some good talent, both on top and on the rise, but overall the star power wasn’t as powerful as years past. This was the beginning of the transition era for the WWF. Here’s the card for the event.
* WWF Heavyweight Champion “Nature Boy” Ric Flair vs. “Macho Man” Randy Savage
* Hulk Hogan vs. Sid Justice
* Intercontinental Champion “Rowdy” Roddy Piper vs. Bret “Hitman” Hart
* The Undertaker vs. Jake “The Snake” Roberts
* WWF Tag Team Champions Money Incorporated vs. The Natural Disasters
* The Big Boss Man, “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, Sgt. Slaughter, and Virgil vs. The Nasty Boys, The Mountie, and The Repo Man
* “El Matador” Tito Santana vs. Shawn Michaels
* Tatanka vs. “The Model” Rick Martel
* “The Rocket” Owen Hart vs. Skinner
* There was also scheduled to be a British Bulldog vs. Berzerker match that didn’t take place, but more on that later.
Plus Reba McEntire, Ray Combs, The Legion of Doom, and more!
* In the dark match, The Bushwhackers defeated the Beverly Brothers. If this match was half as painful as their Royal Rumble 1992 match, then thank God this match has remained ‘Dark’ for all these years!
The show begins with Gorilla and Bobby doing the announcing duties. It’s hard to get over the absence of Ventura since WrestleMania VI, but if anyone could fill his spot at Mania then I’m glad it’s Bobby. We’re off to the ring for country music star Reba McEntire to sing the Star-Spangled Banner.
And immediately upon completing the song, things kick off with El Matador making his way to the ring. Sad to see that even with the long entrance aisle they didn’t bring back the ring carts. Damn you WWF!
(Notes going in: You’ll find that half of this show is just matches thrown together. As was the case in WrestleMania’s gone by, the only problem is this show is cut down immensely, by almost a third, and so it really sticks out here. Still, we’ve got the capable Tito Santana, who has been a part of every WrestleMania to date going up against the newly turned heel Shawn Michaels. Tito was stuck with the Matador gimmick during the fall of 1991 as a way to revive his career… It didn’t work. Maybe he just needed a pink mask and a midget bull mascot. Shawn turned heel at the beginning of 1992 after he threw his Rocker partner Marty Jannetty through the window of the Barber Shop talk show segment. Shawn was clearly ready for the next level, and he was given a chance to take the next step here, going up against a guy that was the king of making new heels look good.)
Sensational Sherri, in all her glory, grabbing her own ass and looking seductive for the camera.
Tito Santana’s response sums up his career at this point, as he coughs in his hand and knows his days as a star are numbered.
It wasn’t even a real cough either. One of those fake forced coughs. Tito was just preparing for his post wrestling career of running his hair salon. Just look at that pony tail!
“El Matador” Tito Santana vs. Shawn Michaels (with Sensational Sherri)
The bell sounds prematurely, and Shawn spends the first minute of the match having his garb removed. Michaels pokes and shoves Tito, and Santana lets him have it for it. Early body block by Santana gets 2. Since they’ve been working a total of 30 seconds, Tito decides to slow things down with a side headlock. Michaels escapes and throws some jabs, some fun off the ropes antics follow with Shawn grabbing the rope to put on the brakes, but Santana clotheslines him over the top to the floor. Tito drags Shawn back in the ring with a HEADLOCK. Of all the ways to bring a guy back into the ring, a headlock? Seriously? Shawn breaks the headlock in the corner, Santana misses an Irish whip, but Shawn jumps over Tito as he charges the corner. They repeat the spot, but this time Tito doesn’t run underneath Shawn, and instead stands there waiting… with a HEADLOCK. Shawn finally escapes again, Tito with a small package for 2, and Tito goes… you guessed it, right back to the HEADLOCK.
Michaels finally pulls a leverage move and sends Tito flying out of the ring. Santana sells it for too long outside the ring, Shawn drags him back in for a backbreaker. Now Michaels uses a reverse chinlock, like we haven’t had enough headlocks already. Santana escapes the chinlock but runs straight into a SUPERKICK! Shawn doesn’t even bother to cover as it was not yet his finisher. Instead Shawn goes for the “Tear Drop Suplex”, but Santana breaks free and eventually nails Shawn with a FLYING FOREARM, but Shawn rolls out of the ring. Santana follows Shawn out and sends him into the steps before hitting a Slingshot Forearm back into the ring on Michaels. That was new for Tito. Santana with a kneelift and an inverted atomic drop and Shawn starts the Mr. Perfect bumps. Santana lands El Paso Del Muerte, but Shawn again rolls out of the ring. Tito tries to bring Shawn back in over the top rope with a slam, but Michaels grabs the ropes causing Santana to lose his balance. Shawn lets go of the rope as Tito yanks back, and Santana takes a bump with Shawn landing on top for the 1-2-3 in 10:37. I guess Tito should have stuck to the headlock. Eat your heart out girls.
Winner: Mr. WrestleMania
(Post Match Thoughts: This was an okay opener. I really expected a lot more given the guys involved. They did just enough to get the mood going, I think that’s why Shawn opened so many WrestleManias. They worked an okay pace here, not as fast as I had originally anticipated, but they kept the match going when Tito wasn’t holding a headlock. Needless to say, far too much headlocking going on, but Tito had been notorious for that, go back at match WrestleMania I against the Masked Executioner and you’ll see what I mean. This was Shawn’s first real stepping stone on his way up the ladder, Tito worked his part and looked good when he was making his comeback. Good bumping by Michaels. Gorilla Monsoon noted during the match that Shawn had already challenged the winner of the IC Title match, so it was evident Michaels was definitely headed somewhere. Shawn’s character was at it’s best with Sherri, in my opinion. I enjoyed the match for what it was. When I first watched this live back in 1992 the finish sort of confused me, I hadn’t seen that finish done before at that time. Watching it now, it’s good because it’s not an overused finish, I think I was just hoping for a ‘finisher’ win back when the show originally aired. I don’t see why Tito couldn’t have fallen to the Tear Drop Suplex, it’s not like he was being pushed. Decent stuff by two talented guys, one on his way up, and the other who essentially passed the torch, so to speak. **1/4)
– An unexpected interview with Mean Gene Okerlund, as he’s standing on the interview stage and simply announces “here they come”. It doesn’t take long before the LOD music hits, and we get the return of Hawk & Animal. The two had been off TV since Royal Rumble or so. They had dropped the belts to Money Inc on a house show and basically disappeared from the WWF. Here we are, less than two months later, and the team has returned, but they weren’t alone. LOD returns with their manager Paul Ellering! Some of the fans cheer Paul, but it’s evident the majority don’t know who he is. The point of this interview was to get LOD on the big PPV, announce that they’re back, and Ellering is there to steer the ship. LOD mention in their own round about way that they’ve maybe lost focus, they need a driver, and Paul is behind the wheel. Ellering’s interviews didn’t really work in the WWF for me.
A video plays of the issues between the Undertaker and Jake Roberts, followed by a prerecorded interview with the Snake Man.
(Notes going in: Jake had turned heel over the summer of 1991, when he aligned himself with the Undertaker in an attempt to take out the Ultimate Warrior. When Warrior left the WWF following SummerSlam ’91, the new feud focused on Jake vs. Randy Savage, with the Undertaker lurking on occasion. Jake would take things too far shortly after the 1992 Royal Rumble, even for the Undertaker’s taste, when on an episode of the Main Event the Snake tried to crack Elizabeth over the head with a chair. The dead man grabbed the chair from the Snake just in the nick of time to save the lovely Liz, and Roberts was laid out instead. Instant face turn for the Taker, and an instant feud with the Snake. Jake would show up on Paul Bearer’s Funeral Parlor segment and laid out Bearer with a DDT while he had the Undertaker’s hand trapped inside a casket! With his hand trapped in a casket, Jake beat down the Taker with a steel chair, but the Undertaker just kept coming, slowly stalking Jake to the dressing room, while dragging the casket behind him. It was a pretty cool segment.)
The Undertaker (with Paul Bearer) vs. Jake “The Snake” Roberts
Jake lands a series of punches, which Taker no sells. Finally, Jake makes a little progress and sends Taker over the top rope, but the dead man lands on his feet and pulls Roberts to the floor. Once back in the ring, Jake has control with some corner work. Taker blocks an Irish whip and tosses Jake to the corner instead. Several Irish whips, choking, choking, and yes, even more choking by the dead man. It’s like Tito with the headlocks all over again. Taker hits the big flying clothesline and the fans finally make some noise. Back to silence from the crowd as the slow plodding match continues. Taker looks like he’s going for the Tombstone, but Jake floats over and lands the DDT! BUT TAKER SITS UP!
Undertaker tries a choke, but Jake counters with a short clothesline. Taker sits up again! SECOND DDT! But Jake doesn’t cover, he goes after Paul Bearer at ringside, nailing him and grabbing the earn, but Jake misses the fact that thge Undertaker has risen again! Taker follows Jake out and TOMBSTONES HIM ON THE FLOOR! Taker rolls Jake back inside and gets the pin in 6:41.
Winner: Taker 2-0
(Post Match Thoughts: This was pretty bad. Taker was still no selling everything and moving slow around the ring. It didn’t help that his offense was a choke, chops to the throat, and old school, which he didn’t even use here. Sort of ironic that when Taker was young and had amazing agility he was relegated to doing basically nothing, but in the latter days of his career he really started to move around. This match was nothing more than another glorified squash for the Undertaker, and that’s pretty bad when you have someone with the star power of Roberts in there. They could have done a lot more given the opportunity. Jake had quit the company earlier in the day, not sure if that had anything to do with it, but likely not. 3/4*, but that’s just for the DDT’s and the finish, even if Jake’s head missed the floor by a good foot. The match itself was little more than nothing.)
– Prior to the Intercontinental Title match, Mean Gene interviews both wrestlers at the same time. Bret Hart wants his IC Title back from the Hot Rod. Roddy talks about their time growing up, and takes some digs at the Hitman in his usual Roddy Piper fashion. Playing off their last interview together where Roddy teased decking Hart, only to reply “I coulda had ya”, this time as they begin to walk away it’s Bret who grabs Piper and repeats the line “I coulda had ya”. Piper quickly holds his fist up to reveal he had a belt wrapped around it and responds to Bret “No you couldn’t of”. Classic Roddy. Bret walks off with Piper closing the segment. This was fun.
(Notes going in: Bret had suffered a serious battle with the flu, running a very high temperature shortly before the 1992 Royal Rumble, and the title was handed off to the Mountie on a house show. The originally booked IC Title match at Rumble ’92 which was to feature The Mountie challenging Hart, would be changed to the Mountie now defending the title against a good friend of Hart’s, one Roddy Piper. Roddy would finally realize his first WWF Championship reign when he captured the IC Title from the Mountie at the Rumble, and remained champion in a successful rematch. Storyline goes, though lifelong friends, Bret Hart wanted his IC Title back, and wouldn’t let friendship stand in his way. The title match was set for Mania with Piper defending against his friend Bret. A few situations on TV helped add heat to the match, even though the names sold it alone. There was an interview where Piper teases attacking Bret Hart, but chooses not to, instead telling Hart “I Coulda Had Ya”. To further the issues, during an IC Title match as part of the March to WrestleMania VIII special on the USA Network, Piper was facing off with Shawn Michaels. With the referee down, and Shawn using a boot for illegal activities, Bret would come to ringside to counteract the issue, and hand Roddy the boot. Piper was unjustly caught with the boot in his hand and disqualified, thus giving Shawn the win. Piper blamed Bret for the loss, and an argument ensued.)
WWF Intercontinental Championship Match
“Rowdy” Roddy Piper (c) vs. Bret “Hitman” Hart
Some good wrestling by both as things get going. A little back and forth “top that” going on. Piper spits at Bret. Bret Hart tries a body block, but both men tumble over the top rope to the floor. Piper offers to help Bret back inside, but fakes out the Hitman and puts the boots to him. Piper lands a signature bulldog for 2. Looks like Bret bladed while on the outside, that’s a Titan No-no. Bret counters a backdrop with a sunset flip, and Piper gets pissed off. Roddy turns to his Golden Glove experience and lands a series of jabs on Bret.
Bret fights back and hits a clothesline that sends Roddy to the floor. Piper comes rushing back in, but both men hit each other with a double clothesline. Piper goes to the top rope. WTF? Bret plays possum, jumps up off the mat and pulls Roddy off the top. Hart makes a comeback, hitting a suplex for 2, Russian legsweep for 2. Bret with a backbreaker and and tries for a Sharpshooter, but Piper blocks it. Bret goes to the middle rope for the elbow, but Piper gets his foot up in the face of Hart. The bloody Hart and Piper begin throwing punches on their knees, and then on their feet. Bret grabs a headlock, Roddy shoves him off and right into the referee. The ref goes down!
Piper knocks Bret to the floor and slams him into the steps. Piper grabs the RING BELL! The referee is down and Roddy Piper climbs in the ring with the steel bell! Piper holds the bell up over his head. He’s going to crack Hart with it! It’s old school Roddy Piper. Piper holds the bell up, but has second thoughts, he looks to the fans who boo him. Piper finally decides against using the bell, and tosses it out of the ring. The fans pop huge for Roddy’s good guy antics. Piper locks on the sleeper, but Bret kicks his feet off the top turnbuckle, sending both men backwards to the mat and Hart lands on top to get the pin, and regains the IC championship after 13:51.
Winner: Bret Hart
After the match, Piper shows a sign of respect, as the two men embrace and Roddy puts the IC belt around Bret’s waste.
(Post Match Thoughts: Roddy Piper has never been known for having classic technical matches, and while this wasn’t a masterpiece on the mat, it was still a really good wrestling match. It’s probably Piper’s best match in all his years with the WWF, probably his first good wrestling match since Starrcade ’83. Bret Hart did a blade job here in a time where bleeding was a huge no-no within the company. I think Hart claimed it was hard way at the time and got out of a major scolding. Roddy grabbing the ring bell, then looking to the fans and tossing it aside was a great touch. Both men were able to leave baby faces, though I was cheering a Piper heel turn when he grabbed the bell way back when. Instead, this would be Piper’s final in ring work with the WWF until his resurgence for that God awful King of the Ring match with Jerry Lawler. A good story here, told by two of the best, good match, good finish. Based on most other reviews of this show I think the match gets a little higher rating than it deserves, but I’ll still go ***3/4)
And now Bobby Heenan has a surprise for us! The latest edition to the World Bodybuilding Federation, “Total Package” Lex Luger! Lex still had a year on his WCW contract when he gave them notice back in January 1992. Luger did the right thing, jobbing to good buddy Sting on the way out and leaving the Stinger with the WCW Title. Luger makes his WWF, excuse me, his WBF debut here. With a year left on his WCW contract, Luger couldn’t sign anywhere as a WRESTLER, so Vince, in all his genius, signs Luger to Bodybuilding contract, expecting to spend the next year building Luger up that way. It was planned to work out to help both companies, it was a wrestling name to attract new fans to the WBF, and at the same time Lex would be exposed to the wrestling fans for a full year before he would make his ring debut.
Might have worked, except Luger got in a major auto accident and spent most of 1992 recovering. That’s also where he got the steel plate in the forearm from.
We’ve got an 8-Man tag coming up and we hear from the participants. The Mountie gets racist, when mentioning serving hard time, Mountie says the only person that will be “serving” is Virgil. Good old Jacques. I wouldn’t expect anything less.
(Notes going in: This was done specifically as a way to get everyone of any form of importance on the show that wasn’t already booked. The original plans for the show were for Hacksaw & Slaughter to challenge for the WWF Tag Titles, but that was later switched to the Disasters before it was officially announced on TV. I have no idea why the Boss Man was stuck in this junk after having a pretty damn good 1991. Virgil is sporting the nose guard mask after suffering the broken nose at the hands of Sid Justice on TV. This was pretty much the tail end of Virgil’s push, but he was still hanging in there. The Mountie goes from a short IC Title reign to stuck in this match. Repo Man debuted with a push, but by now he’s working matches like this. While odd that Jimmy Hart was managing two tag teams (the Disasters and Nastys) during 1991, it’s even more odd that Hart is managing the tag champion Money Inc AND Nasty Boys. What point is sticking with a man who is obviously going to prevent you from ever challenging the champions? The Nastys would finally come to their senses MANY months later.)
To add to the festivities of this match, we’ve got the then host of the ‘Family Feud’, the late Ray Combs, as the ring announcer. Ray only wound up announcing the heel team, as the entire point was for him to crack jokes on all four heels. It was a way to build up an upcoming WBF vs. WWF Heels week of Family Feud. Once the jokes were done, the heels tried to go after Combs, causing the faces to make the save, and we move into the match.
Eight-Man Tag Team Match
The Big Boss Man, “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, Sgt. Slaughter, and Virgil
vs. The Nasty Boys, The Repo Man, and The Mountie (with Jimmy Hart)
The faces jump the heels and hit a quadruple back elbow and a quadruple clothesline. Repo Man runs into a clothesline from Virgil, a double clothesline from Hacksaw and Sarge, and the heels regroup. Hacksaw starts things off with Sags. Sags jumps Duggan while he HOOOOing, but Duggan quickly turns things around and Sags ends up in the babyface corer. Slaughter tags in, but the heels immediately take over with Knobbs tagging in.
Slaughter reverses an Irish whip by Knobbs, lands a Slaughter Cannon clothesline and a double stomp. Boss Man tags in and unloads with his rapid fire punching, including a Popeye wind up punch. Boss Man gets cut off and Knobbs tags in Repo. Repo Man drops Boss Man to all fours and jumps on his back, it works once, but Boss Man spins over onto his back and Report lands balls first into a punch from BBMan when he tries it again. Funny spot.
Virgil tags in and does a little shuffling, but it’s not long before the heels double and triple team him. Sags lands the pumphandle slam for 2. Mountie tags in for the FIRST TIME. Mountie climbs to the middle rope, shouts “I AM THE MOUNTIE!” and jumps off right into a spike slam by the Big Boss Man who had seen enough. Everything breaks down, everyone falls to the floor except the Nasty Boys and Virgil. Knobbs removes the nose guard from Virgil’s face and attempts to use it to smash him with it, but Virgil ducks and Knobbs nails Sags instead. Virgil makes the cover on Sags, while Duggan takes care of Knobbs and this one is over in 6:36. And they can’t cut away from the ring fast enough for a Flair interview.
Winner: Team Babyface
(Post Match Thoughts: Like I said, just a way to get these guys on the show. Boss Man and the Mountie had their issues in 1991, but it had long since been abandoned. This was almost embarrassing to watch. I honestly felt bad for them. Eight guys out there doing very little in a rushed match. All eight guys got a payday, so good for them. 1/4* just for keeping it short. Boss Man’s best days in the WWF were clearly behind him, as was the case for everyone in this match.)
We go to Sean Mooney who is standing by with the Nature Boy and Mr. Perfect. Hennig is supposedly looking at the giant centerfold of Elizabeth, which they promise to show to the world once Flair retains his title tonight against the Macho Man. Wooooo
(Notes going in: Initially this match was put together after Hulk Hogan passed up his championship opportunity in order to seek revenge on Sid Justice. Jack Tunney named Randy Savage the new #1 contender to the title. The mind games began as Flair released some shocking photos in the WWF Magazine of himself and Elizabeth together as a couple. There was even a picture of a towel that read “R&L”, which Flair claimed stood for Ric and Liz, rather than Randy and Liz. Flair would refer to Liz as “damaged goods” and recite the line “she was mine, before she was yours” more than I can count. It would come out that Flair superimposed himself into said pictures, as the following WWF Magazine would show the real pictures which featured Savage in place of the Nature Boy. The damage had already been done, the name of the lovely Elizabeth had been besmirched, and Savage wanted mad revenge.)
WWF World Heavyweight Championship Match
“Nature Boy” Ric Flair (c) (with Mr. Perfect) vs. “Macho Man” Randy Savage (with Elizabeth)
Savage goes after Flair in the aisle, but Mr. Perfect grabs Macho by his hair and drags him back to ringside. Flair tries to get a jump on Macho, but it doesn’t work. Savage sends Ric into the corner with a high knee and starts to work on the champion. Savage gets a little too intense and the referee holds him back, Macho charges back at Flair but is backdropped to the outside. Flair drives Savage into the ring apron and takes over. Flair wisely goes to work on the back of the Macho Man hitting a variety of suplex, amongst other things. Flair has complete control, until Savage counters a backdrop with a neckbreaker. Flair goes to the top rope, BUT, you guessed it, he’s slammed off the top, and a BIG backdrop by Savage. A pair of clotheslines on Ric, Flair begs off but Macho spits on him and whips him into the corner. Flair does the flip over the top and lands on the apron, climbs the top rope but jumps off into a waiting Savage, and Macho gets a REALLY NEAR FALL. Great comeback shit.
Savage clothesline Flair to the floor and goes to the top rope. Flying Double Axehandle off the top rope to the floor on Flair. Flair gets tossed into the steps and Flair does a blade job. Now shit is getting good. Great blade job by Flair, though he’d get in trouble for it. Suplex on the floor by Savage! Back in the ring Macho comes off the top with another flying axehandle for a near fall. Crowd is hot for this match, and rightfully so. Macho slams Flair down and goes up for the Flying Elbow! AND IT CONNECTS! 1-2-Mr. Perfect pulls Savage off of the cover! What the hell? Savage goes after Hennig, chasing him into the ring. Perfect & Savage sandwich the referee and the ref goes down. Hennig tosses Flair a pair of brass knuckles, and Ric pops Macho with the knucks. Flair covers for the cheap win, but NO, Macho kicks out! Macho kicks out and Flair is bloody pissed off.
Flair distracts the ref while Mr. Perfect smashes a steel chair into the leg of the Macho Man. Elizabeth has seen enough! Liz power walks her way to ringside while the officials, including Shane McMahon, try to hold her back. Flair works over the knee of Savage, applying the Figure Four. Elizabeth looks on in support of her man. Perfect assists Flair in leverage. Savage begins to turn the hold over, but Perfect grabs Flair’s hands to keep him from reversing it. The referee catches Hennig and kicks his hands free, Savage reverses the Figure Four! The two separate almost immediately.
Savage is selling his knee, Flair stays on it, telling Liz “this is for you baby”. Savage counters with a small package for a 2. Flair has hold of Macho’s bad leg and throws a punch, but Savage blocks. Randy throws a punch back, staggering Flair, and Savage rolls Flair up with a school boy and hooks the tights for 1-2-3 after 18:01!
Winner: And Newwwwww WWF Champion, the Macho Man
After the match, Flair corners Liz, asking “what about me?”. Flair kisses Liz, and she starts slapping the shit out of him. Macho jumps Flair, but Ric gets the better of him when the referees try and hold Randy down. Why the fuck are they holding Savage down for Ric to kick the shit out of him? That damn Tony Garea. Makes no sense. Poor JJ Dillon gets blood on his suit, but he doesn’t care because Ric made him so much money in the 80’s.
Ric takes off, as the Fink announces Savage’s title win. Selling the leg, Savage still manages to celebrate with Liz in the title victory as we get a shot of one of the WrestleMania VII crying ladies. I bet she loved seeing this come full circle. She looks like she’s almost going to cry here. The pyro explodes, and I think it shocks Elizabeth. Good match.
(Post Match Thoughts: Put aside the storyline for a moment, and just focus on the match. This was just a damn good match. This is probably the first time I’ve watched this thing in a good 20 years. This transition period didn’t always gel with me. I wasn’t a fan of some of the storylines, I didn’t like the new talent coming in and taking the place of the guys I grew up on, especially when most of the new talent sucked. For the last two decades I remembered this match being good, but I always thought all the people who praised it were insane. Now that I sat down and watched it again this many years later I realized that it was I who was insane. Just a great, great match. The blade job by Flair was a nice surprise, but the action was nonstop. In a match given more time than any other you might expect the headlocks, the chinlocks, the nerve holds, but these guys gave us nonstop action. Perfect was all over the place here, almost like a handicap match. I loved the line Gorilla used about Hennig being in the match just as much as Flair. Twenty years ago I thought all the interference detracted from the match, and that’s mainly why I remembered not liking it and not watching it again. I’ve changed my thoughts on everything about this match, the interference may have been heavy, but it was good. The story telling of Flair and Hennig doing everything to try and retain the belt, only to lose by having Flair’s tights hooked, was just brilliant. Flair spent time on Savage’s back, Macho made one of his greatest comebacks ever, then Flair gets a second shot on Savage’s knee. Liz comes down at just the right time, everything was so well booked, and I don’t care if Savage did script some of the match beforehand. Not their greatest matches of all time, but it was still a really good match. Execution is what it’s all about, and this match was excellently executed. Sorry Bret. ****1/4)
As we head into intermission time we hear from Flair, Hennig and Bobby Heenan who has joined them in the locker room. Everybody us pissed off. They totally ignore the fact that Hennig interfered 492 times in the match, and only dwell on the fact that Savage used the tights to win the match. No mention of the centerfold that they had played up for weeks. Flair says Liz is damaged goods and he’s coming for his belt.
Macho Man & Liz are with Mean Gene. Macho did what he had to do to win the title, but he’s not done with Flair. In fact, things have only begun. Macho still very much wants at the Nature Boy. Oooh Yeah!
Intermission tick tick tick.
– Speaking of tick, we take a look at the ticking time bomb Sid Justice and all the devastation he has created around the WWF leading up to his match with the Hulkster. These devastating acts included destroying a bottle of powder and having it exploode all over his face, and running a jobber off of a stretcher. What a big meanie!
– Before our next match, the Lumbee Indian Drive have road their horses all the way from North Carolina to Indiana to be a part of WrestleMania. They dance around the ring to absolute silence. Rick Martel cuts a promo with a bunch of Indian jokes mixed in.
(Notes going in: No story here yet. They eventually have a feud over Tatanka’s stolen Indian feathers, but here we just have Martel being put in the ring with a newcomer to make sure the match is salvageable. HOPEFULLY. We’ve got some Indians, I’m sorry, NATIVE AMERICANS, dancing around the ring, chanting something and beating on drums. It’s about as over as a fart in church. The fans aren’t making a sound. Guess this was part of some elaborate entrance for Tatanka, but it was just annoying for me..)
“The Native American” Tatanka vs. “The Model” Rick Martel
Martel gets the best of Tatanka as things get going, but it doesn’t take long for the Native American to come back and run the Model out of the ring. A war dance by Tatanka while Martel takes a break. Bobby Heenan going nuts on commentary over the Flair loss. Martel reenters and takes over, but misses a shoulder in the corner and Tatanka goes to work on the arm of the Model. Martel tries a hiptoss, Tatanka blocks, so RICK HITS A CHOKESLAM. Holy shit! The Model with a chokeslam! And Martel throws Tatanka to the floor. Lots of throwing people out of the ring on this PPV. Back in the ring Martel hits a backbreaker and begins to climb to the top rope, but Tatanka shakes the ropes and Martel crotches himself. Lots of Chops and a BIG backdrop by Tatanka. Tatanka telegraphs a second backdrop and Martel takes back over. Tatanka ducks a clothesline and rebounds with a body block to take the win after 4:30.
Winners: Tatanka – Buffalo
(Post Match Thoughts: Rick Martel was obviously in the ‘Tito Role’ tonight. A solid, and dependable hand that could make it through a match and attempt to make their green or newly groomed opponent look good. Unfortunately, this match was too short to really accomplish anything. Yet at the same time, we were fortunate, because this thing looked like it was going nowhere fast. Tatanka showed heart here, I’ll give him that much. Crowd just sat there, as did I. Wish Martel had at least went for the Boston Crab to make the match feel like it accomplished more. I don’t know what it was with this Mania and these newly pushed guys going over with these surprise wins. A Samoan drop here from Tatanka would have said a lot more, but then again I’m not against them protecting Martel. *)
Some interviews with the Natural Disasters and Money Inc. follow. The Disasters were betrayed and the belts should be theirs. Money Inc are the champs, so tough shit fat boys.
(Notes going in: Story here is, Jimmy Hart was already managing two teams, the Nastys and the Disasters, when he took on Money Inc. who subsequently became the WWF Tag Team Champions, having defeated the Legion of Doom. The story goes, Jimmy Hart switched the names on a Tag Team Title challenge contract from his Disasters to Money Inc at the last minute. Money Inc would then go on the win the titles that night, this would also be Hart’s initial night as acting manager of DiBiase and IRS. Learning that their manager had betrayed them, the Disasters confronted Hart about the issues, and the partnership dissolved immediately between Earthquake & Typhoon and their now former manager. The issues between the two teams continued, leading to this title match at WrestleMania.)
WWF Tag Team Championship Match
Money Incorporated (Ted DiBiase and the imposter I.R.S.) with Jimmy Hart vs. The Natural Disasters (Earthquake and Typhoon)
Some feeling out to start, and it’s evident really quick that the Disasters have the power. Ted tries a top wristlock, but is shoved down by the Quake. Money Inc try a little double teaming, but Earthquake knocks them around with some clotheslines. Typhoon joins in on the fun, and Money inc regroup with Jimmy Hart on the floor. Rotunda tales, trying to grab an armlock on Quake, but Quake reverses and tags to Typhoon. Now it’s time for some extra shitty action. Typhoon vs. this imposter IRS? God no.
Typhoon pounds on Rotunda, until DiBiase can tag in. Ted comes in with some series chops, but Typhoon takes over. Typhoon has been in here TOOOOOOO LOOOOONG. Typhoon blows a spot where he should have charged DiBiase and fell out of the ring. Then he finally does the spot and gets hung up on the rope, blowing it twice. Finally, Typhoon falls outside and Rotunda slams him into the steps. The heels take over, and there’s just too much Typhoon going on. Heels work over Typhoon, Rotunda with the patented front facelock of super excitement. Typhoon finally tags to Quake, but Dibiase causes the referee to miss it. Double teaming behind the ref’s back and Money Inc keep control. Typhoon and DiBiase with a… Double Clothesline? Yeah, that almost looked believeable. Rotunda tags in, Quake gets the hot tag but the fans don’t really respond. The Disasters whip Money Inc into each other and DiBiase it sent to the floor. Typhoon with the BIG SPLASH on Rotunda, and Earthquake goes for the Butt Drop, but DiBiase & Jimmy Hart pull Rotunda to safety on the floor.
The heels decide to take a walk. DiBiase grabs the tag titles and Money Inc takes an intentional count out for the loss, but retain the titles at 8:38. Shitty
Winner: The Disasters via Count Out
(Post Match Thoughts: What a shitty shit finish. That’s four years in a row DiBiase’s match ends in a count out. Crowd didn’t give two shits about this match, and with a finish like that I don’t even see the point of putting it on the card. Typhoon was a walking mess, it took him a couple tries to fall out of the ring, but he would improve, it only took him one try to fall on his face in WCW a year later. DUD, and because it went so long I almost want to give it a negative star.)
– Mean Gene talks to Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake about his buddy Hulk Hogan’s match. Beefcake is here to support the Hulkster because he is the number one Hulkamaniac. Brutus says he’s been with Hulk since the beginning and he’s going to be here for his big match tonight. Brutus doesn’t know if this will be Hulk’s last match, but he knows Hulk Hogan will give it his all.
The AUDIT proudly presents “Story Time” with “The British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith vs. The Berzerker
Right about this time there was slated to be the Berzerker going up against The British Bulldog. However, based on a few different accounts, this is how the story went down. With the PPV being cut from the 4 hour format down to the 3 hour format, the WWF was having trouble trimming the show, and making everything fit. This would continue to be an issue for the next few WrestleManias which also featured cut matches. WrestleMania IX had the Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Kamala match cut, while WrestleMania X had the 10-Man Tag cut off the show. Some of the blame could be put on those in charge of producing the event, even in more recent years the second half of the show suffers (the WWF cut the mixed tag with Tons of Funk/the Funkadactyls vs. Rhodes Scholars/Bellas just last year). Many times this is because some of the early matches and/or segments run longer than planned. According to those right in the mix of this situation, that was the case here. It seems some of the early stuff on the show ran a little longer than expected, and the Money Inc/Disaster match was cut time, most of their time to be exact. This didn’t sit well with those in the tag team title match, the two tag teams griped, and supposedly it was Ted DiBiase who led the charge in making the decision that they were scheduled for a match and they were going to have a match, feeling that nobody could stop them. So the two teams went out there and had their originally planned match, going much longer than they were told, it stunk, and in return it forced the WWF to cut a match from the card. The obvious choice to cut would have been Skinner vs. Owen Hart. I’m actually a little confused how that match made the card anyway, Skinner was basically glorified enhancement and Owen Hart was between tag teams doing absolutely nothing. So those in charge go up to the British Bulldog and inform him that his match with the Berzerker has been cut down to a minute. Bulldog’s response was something along the lines of “I don’t do one minute matches”, obviously feeling robbed of his WrestleMania moment. Short on time, the WWF was in no mood to play games, which is why the moment the Bulldog said he doesn’t do one minute matches, Steve “Skinner” Keirn stood right up and said “I do”. Nobodies fool, Keirn knew his position in the company, likely wanted on the PPV, and obviously wanted the payday. And so Skinner vs. Owen Hart was on, and the Bulldog vs. Berzerker match was cancelled without any mention on the PPV (even though it had been advertised all the way up through the preshow countdown). So there’s your story people, the Berzerker loses his only chance at a WrestleMania, the Bulldog gets his ego checked at the door, and Owen Hart makes the PPV.
(Notes going in: No angles here, you got your story above. If Skinner made this PPV, can you imagine the crap that would have been on this show if it had went 14 matches like years past? Save us Owen!)
“The Rocket” Owen Hart vs. Skinner
Best entrance ever as Owen does a back flip into the ring from the top rope, but turns right into Skinner who spits a giant wad of chewing tobacco in Hart’s face. The announcers completely miss it and pretty much the entire match too, because they were too busy talking about Sid/Hogan. Skinner uses the advantage to beat down Hart and land his “Gator Buster” inverted DDT finisher, which only gets 2. That’s saying something when your finisher can’t beat a guy in the lower card. Skinner tosses Owen over the top rope but Hart skins the cat back in behind Skinner’s back and executes a reverse rolling cradle for the win in 1:35.
Winners: The Rocket! Woooo
(Post Match Thoughts: I don’t know how long this thing was originally given, but this was the perfect amount of time for a Skinner match. Not a whole lot of time, but the two guys crammed everything they could into it. I loved the tobacco spitting spot at the opening. Though short, I’ll give this thing a 1/4* for the spit in the face spot.)
– An interview with Sid Justice follows. He refers to Gene as a “fat bald little oaf” and then informs us that he “doesn’t give a DAMN”. Sid’s interview is followed by a replay of a portion of an interview between Vince McMahon and Hulk Hogan from March to WrestleMania VIII. Will this be Hogan’s last match? He just doesn’t know.
Wow, no Hulk Hogan hype promo? Doesn’t feel like WrestleMania without one of those, dude.
(Notes going in: The Hulkster’s friendship with Sid Justice was pretty much established back at SummerSlam ’91 when Sid made his in ring debut, acting as the official of the main event of the night. While both men were off on their own runs for the duration of 1991, it was always believed the two were friends. At the 1992 Royal Rumble, Sid had eliminated Hogan, much to the pleasure of the fans. But the sore loser Hogan turned around and inadvertently helping Flair, he pulled Sid out, which helped start the heel turn of big Sid. Justice’s mannerisms after the match were classic heel Sid, as he pushed the Hulkster and called him out. Things continued to escalate when Hogan was named the #1 contender to Ric Flair’s title at WrestleMania. Sid, feeling he should be the #1 contender, had some choice reactions and words for Hogan and WWF President Jack Tunney after the #1 contender press conference. Sid would apologize for his comments and ultimately tag with the Hulkster on the Main Event to take on Ric Flair and the Undertaker. When Hulk was in trouble he tried to make the hot tag to Sid, Justice dropped off the apron and left Hulk hanging, event threatening to break the face of Hulk’s friend Brutus Beefcake, who was at ringside for the match. The turn was complete, Sid had betrayed Hogan in the fans eyes. In reality, Hulk was the sore loser whiney asshole as usual, but he could do no wrong to the fans so whatever. Anyway, Sid would appear as a guest on the Barber Shop. When questioned about his heel turn by Hogan’s best friend Brutus Beefcake, Sid claims he was going to rearrange the face of the Barber. Justice grabbed a steel chair and destroyed the Barber Shop set, before running off the Barber. Justice would take on Harvey Wippleman as his manager, someone Justice was very familiar and friendly with going back to his Memphis days. Justice would begin destroying his opponents, sending them out on stretchers, only to knock them off and do more damage. He even placed “Call 9-1-1” tags around his defeated opponents necks. On his road to WrestleMania, Sid even managed to break the nose of Virgil, ramming his face into the exposed steel turnbuckle, and defeated Hercules in less than a minute. Justice was the real deal and he was here to end Hulkamania. On the other end, there had already been rumors that Hogan was winding down, he was wanting to do more movies and go Hollywood, he was never a fan of working summers, and the fans were slowly waning away from Hulkamania. They even promoted the March to WrestleMania special ‘a salute to Hulk Hogan’, complete with an interview with Vince McMahon and Hulk. The special also highlighted two of Hulk’s biggest matches, against Andre and the Warrior. Why would they highlight a Warrior match after he held Vince up for money at SummerSlam and left the company? More on that later. Right now, we get rolling with Sid Justice vs. Hulk Hogan, in what was supposed to be at the time ‘Hulk’s last match’.)
Hulk Hogan vs. Sid Justice (with Dr. Harvey Wippleman)
Before the match even starts, Justice jumps Hogan, but Hulk has his way with Sid, knocking him all around and clearing him from the ring, all while “Real American” is still playing. Every time Sid tries to get back in the ring, Hulk knocks him right back out, even hitting a clothesline to knock Sid off the apron. Hell, Sid probably takes more bumps here than in the actual match, I have no doubt. Hulk rips his shirt off, and now the real match begins.
The two men stand face to face and Sid lands a cheap shot knee to take over right away. Justice with all sorts of shitty punches and kicks of nothingness. Sid shoots Hogan off the ropes and does a drop down? WTF? Hogan jumps over and nails Justice with some punches to drive him from the ring. Sid regroups with Harvey.
Justice climbs back in and he wants a test of strength. Hogan drops to his knees. Oh the pain. Hulk begins to fight back up to his feet, but Sid backs him into the corner to maintain control. Hogan reverses an Irish whip by Sid and clotheslines him in the corner. Harvey distracts Hulk, and Sid takes right back over with a CHOKESLAM. Are you shitting me? 6:30 into the match before we get our first real move? So yeah, Chokeslam big Sid. Justice kicks Hogan some more and knocks him to the floor. Harvey distracts the ref while Sid nails Hulk with Wippleman’s doctors bag.
Sid follows that up with the devastatingly dangerous nerve hold. Oh yes, it’s the nerve hold. What an exciting match thus far. We’ve had a test of strength, a chokeslam, and a nerve hold. Hogan is weakening, Sid wants him to give it up. The move is applied so weel that it appears like Hogan has fallen asleep from the boredom. Hogan raises his finger in the air when the referee raises his arm a third time. Hogan breaks free of the nerve hold, but Sid counters with the Side Slam! WOO! Wrestling Move #2, and it only took about 11:00!
Sid calls for it, and hits the POWERBOMB on Hogan! 1-2-NO! Oh shit, you did it now Sid. He’s Hulking Up! Justice puts the boots to Hulk, but Hogan no sells and comes back with a series of punches and turnbuckle shots. BIG BOOT, bodyslam. Legdrop! 1-2-Sid kicks out! Holy shit Sid kicks out. Harvey misses his cue and Sid is forced to kick out of the legdrop, I bet Hogan liked that. Harvey jumps in the ring immediately afterwards and draws the DQ at 12:28. Hogan gets the DQ win in the main event of WrestleMania.
Winners: The Hulkster via DQ
The finish gets screwed up, Sid wasn’t supposed to kick out of the legdrop because there was supposed to be interference. Harvey Wippleman climbs into the ring, but only after Sid kicks out of the legdrop, and the referee calls for the bell before Harvey even does anything. A shitty DQ finish in the main event of WrestleMania. How can you save that? Hogan presses Harvey onto Sid, but Justice catches his manager.
Newcomer Papa Shango wanders to the ring to aid Sid Justice in double teaming the Hulkster. This is no way to go out! Where the hell is Brutus Beefcake when you need him? Is there no one to save Hulkamania?????
While Papa works over Hogan, Sid goes outside to get a steel chair, when a familiar theme hits!
IT’S THE ULTIMATE WARRIOR! Flying to the ring, the Warrior knocks Papa Shango over the top rope with a clothesline. Sid smashes Warrior in the back with a chair, Warrior drops but begins shaking the ropes back to his feet. Sid gets ready to swing the chair again, but Hogan intercepts and grabs the chair from Justice. Sid slides out of the ring, the Warrior is BACK! Hogan is stunned! The fans lose Hulk, but get a slimmer Warrior, or as some people refer to him “The second Ultimate Warrior”. You know, the one that replaced the first one who died from steroids? Yeah, sorry, urban legend. There was only one Warrior, he just got off the gas. Warrior & Hulk celebrate to end the event, hoping to get the fans to forget about the shitty match that ended in an even shittier DQ finish.
(Post Match Thoughts: What a mess of shit this thing was. The opening sequence before the bell was ten times more entertaining than the match itself. It was like they tried to see how long they could drag out all of Sid’s moves, the chokeslam, the side slam, and the powerbomb. Apparently it takes about 12:00. On average, that’s about 1 move per every 4 minutes. The Hogan comeback follows, and Sid is forced to kick out following a botched interference spot. People always say it was Papa Shango who blew the finish, but it was pretty clear based on when he came down the aisle, that he wasn’t to interfere until after the match. Harvey must have been in awe of the whole ordeal that he just jumped in the ring a few seconds too late. I bet Hulk was pissed somebody kicked out of his legdrop, but at the same time he was leaving and probably didn’t really give a shit. The match was just complete garbage, nothing, probably for the best that both Hulk and Sid were gone from the company shortly after this PPV. The match itself was a DUD. I can’t even give it a 1/4* for being a main event. It was just THAT bad, and factor in a DQ finish for a Mania main event? Give me a fucking break guys. At the time, the Warrior’s return salvaged what it could from the shit I just watched before it. Now that it’s 22 years later, the Warrior return is still cool to see, but it doesn’t have the same effect on me as a fan so no, it doesn’t salvage that shitfest match at all. It appeared Shango was getting ready for a big push, but that didn’t last very long. Actually, by November, three of these guys would all be gone from the company, and Shango would be little more than lower card talent. Like I said, this was a transition period.)
THE FINAL AUDIT: How do you end a show with an intentional count out, a 90 second match between two undercard guys, and a DQ finish to your main event? Who booked this shit? This is a two match show on a 10 match card. One match didn’t take place, another was 90 seconds, we got a DQ main event, a count out title match, the 8-man was just pure crap, and the Undertaker match was nothing more than a squash. Tatanka vs. Martel was short and really barely anything, Tito vs. Shawn was okay, but they could have really had a sleeper match had they chosen to do so. While not a clinic, Bret vs. Piper was more than solid and the drama added to the match and made it WrestleMania caliber in an era where we didn’t get too many actual good matches on the show. Flair vs. Savage should have closed this thing, but I get it was Hogan and he “had” to go on last. I think the Warrior’s return would have worked before intermission all the same. The two main events should have been flipped in my opinion, but maybe it was better Savage/Flair went on earlier to make sure they got all the time they needed. This is one of those WrestleManias where there’s always mixed feelings. Some people love it, some don’t care much for it. I’m somewhere in the middle. I think those who love it simply grew up in that era and so it has a place in their heart.
When you break it down, it really isn’t good enough to argue it being one of the best, but I think the whole transition of stars and the awe of the arena, and the big names, it all makes it attractive. WrestleMania VIII falls somewhere in the middle for me. If I were to give it a recommendation, I’d go thumbs in the middle, maybe slightly up would be fair. I’m not against saying people should watch this show, at least once. Maybe a 6.5 out of 10 rating from me, that’s a solid C rating. As far as recommendations go? It gets a Mild Recommendation, but it squeaks by and passes the Audit. Congratulations to WrestleMania VIII, you have passed the IRS Audit and Review!
I’ve got one more WrestleMania to review before the 30th big one hits TV next Sunday. Which Mania will I review next? Stay tuned to find out. Til’ next week, this has been the REAL I.R.S., Ian R. Singletary, catchya later, tax cheats!\