September 4, 2010
As I work my way thru the past WrestleManias Iíve finally worked my way up to Mania IX. Mania IX was from Las Vegas and was the first out door WrestleMania. I know I watched this show live, back when it happened, but apart from it being outside and the big surprise finish to the main event I remembered almost nothing from this event when I sat down to watch it.
One of the big news worthy items out of this show was that this was Jim Rossís WWF debut. His debut broadcast for the World Wrestling Federation was at WrestleMania where he replaced Gorilla Monsoon to do play by play along with Bobby Heenan and Randy Savage. Another thing that stood out for me about this show was the amount of people on the show that have passed away. I counted 7 people on this show that are no longer with us: Gorilla Monsoon (hosted the event), Joey Morella (referee), Luna Vachon, Sensational Sherri, Mr. Perfect, Yokozuna, and Crush. This may have been the case in earlier WrestleManias as well but I noticed it right away on this show because three of them were involved in the first match (Morella, Luna, and Sherri).
One other thing of note is that I noticed that the wrestling style really changed with this event. It was just the last couple Manias (VII, and VIII) that some guys started kicking out of big moves, but this year there were big moves and big bumps all over the place. Up until this year only a couple top guys like Warrior, Hogan, and Undertaker, where kicking out of big moves as near falls, but on this show guys were taking big bump, running each otherís heads into the steel post; all kinds of big stuff just for the sake of doing it and getting a pop. Iím not saying itís good or bad, just pointing out that it was a real noticeable style change from previous years where anything even remotely big was a finish.
Shawn Michaels Ė Tatanka (IC Title):
This match had both Sherri and Luna at ring side and was a pretty good match, with a shit finish. Shawn bumped his ass off in this match (no surprise) and the big bumps and moves on the show started here. Shawn took an arm drag off the top rope (Tatanka was on the mat, and Shawn dove off the top rope to get caught with an arm drag) a bigger bump than almost every finish on the previous 8 WrestleMania shows. Shawn later caught Tatanka with a Super Kick as Tatanka jumped off the top rope. This was not even a near fall it was just to cut Tatanka off. They ended with a count out but did the Dusty finish with it by having Tatanka hit his finish on Shawn and cover him before the ref signaled for the count out.
Headshrinkers Ė Steiner Brothers:
This was another big impact style match. Interesting note, Bill Alfonzo (Fonzy of ECW fame) was the referee for this match. These guys worked hard and hit a ton of big stuff. On the cut off Samu almost killed Scott Steiner. They were going to do a hotshot type maneuver but Scotty got so high and Samu didnít hang on to him at all and just threw him head first over the top rope. This was one of the most frightening bumps Iíve ever seen. The other crazy huge bump in this match was a Power Slam Rick Steiner hit on Samu from atop Fatuís shoulders. Fatu (Rikishi) had Rick up on his shoulders and Samu jumped off the top rope, I assume to hit a doomsday device and Rick caught Samu and hit a Power Slam from that position; the bump was scary. Shinkers had a ton of heat through out the match till Scotty hit the Frankensteiner for the win.
Crush Ė Doink:
This was when Crush was the happy Hawaiian Crush, which I guess was a variation on Hawaiian Punch. This match continued the big moves to no avail trend on the show with both guys getting ran head first into the steel post just as filler while they brawled on the floor. Doink also hit a pile driver in the heat and didnít even bother to make a cover. Finish of this match saw a ref bump and a second Doink come out to help Doink #1 get the win. After the match the announcers were trying to figure out of there was infact a second Doink or if it was an illusion. Iím not kidding they even started asking fans in the crowd if they thought it was an illusion. I guess they were in Vegas Illusionists are big there. This was not a good match.
Razor Ramon Ė Bob Backlund:
Iím so used to seeing older fatter Scot Hall so this younger hard working Razor was a big surprise. Not much too this match but Razor bumped his ass off and worked hard for what it was. Razor picked up the win with a small package.
Money Inc (Dibiase & IRS) Ė Hogan & Beefcake (Tag Titles):
This was a weird match. Beefcake was wearing this big steel mask during the match. I believe this was due to the parasailing accident he had where he got hit in the face by a person who was parasailing and had his face completely shattered. No one thought heíd ever be able to wrestle again, but he was back and wearing this crazy mask. Hogan could have used a mask too because he had this huge shiner when he came out for this match. Iíve looked into it and there were two stories going around back then as to how Hogan ended up with a black eye. The best story is that Randy Savage punched him in the face over some heat surrounding Miss Elizabeth, but the more widely believed story was just a boating accident of some kind. Hogan was also noticeably smaller this year. Iím not sure if this was the year of the steroid trial or what but Hogan was way smaller on this show than previous Manias. This match was really long and a bit of a cluster fók. They teased a count out early but had the ref announce that if Money Inc. got counted out he would award Hogan and Beefcake the Titles. They did a double heat, then a really weird spot where the heel distracted the ref allowing the faces to cheat behind the refs back to save themselves and lead to the comeback. Then there was a ref bump, so the faces could get a double visual pin, by cheating and using Beefcakes mask as a weapon, which led to Jimmy Hart (The Face Team manager) taking off his jacket and putting it back on inside out. The jacket conveniently had black and white refereeís stripes on the inside. He counted the double pin and awarded the belts to his team. Then came the Dusty finish when another ref came out to stooge things off to the original ref who called for the DQ and gave the belts back to Money Inc. This leaves me with just one question: Was Vince Russo writing for the WWF at this point?
The Narcissist Lex Luger Ė Mr. Perfect:
They mentioned throughout this match that Luger had knocked out Bret Hart earlier in the day at the WrestleMania brunch (footage would have been nice). Not much to this match. They likely got there time cut after the super long cluster fók that went before them. Only thing of note was that Perfect was having a very bad hair day and Luger won with a back slide, where he used the ropes to get it, and Perfectís feet ended up in the ropes when he was pinned. Perfect was the baby face so they tried to protect him a little. There was a post match angle to set up a Perfect Ė Michaels feud which no doubt produced far better matches than this one.
The Undertaker Ė Giant Gonzales:
This match would be #3 in the streak and no doubt the least impressive win and one Iím sure everyone wishes they could redo. This match was bad. Gonzales was enormous, way taller than Kahli. Taker only came up to this guys chin, and they were billing him at 8í (I think he was legit 7í 7Ē). Finish was atrocious, Gonzales got a rag that had ďchloroformĒ on it and suffocated The Undertaker till he was unconscious getting DQíd in the process. Undertakerís third win in the string saw him get suffocated and stretchered out to pick up the DQ win. WOW Taker did make his own comeback moments later when he return to the ring to chase off Gonzales. When Taker was making his way back to the ring Bobby Heenan made the funniest statement I think I have ever heard. Jim Ross had just commented that you canít kill the Undertaker because heís already dead when Heenan blurts out, ďHe is living proof, he is not aliveĒ. Tremendous!!!!
Next up was a long Hogan interview where he puts over Bret (sort of) and threw out an open challenge to the winner. Whatís great about this promo is that Hogan actually uses a racial slur in it. In the promo he challenged Bret Hart or ďThe JapĒ. A lot of people donít know this and perhaps Hogan didnít either but ďJapĒ is a very derogatory and offensive term to Japanese people. Itís the closest thing to a Japanese equivalent of the N-Word and baby face Hulk Hogan drops in on Yokozuna, who is supposed to be Japanese. He even says it with great disgust in his voice.
Bret Hart - Yokozuna (WWF Title):
This was a pretty solid match, which is impressive considering the size of Yoko; my God he was huge. They told a great story and did a unique spot ripping the turnbuckle pad off to set up Bret getting Yoko in the Sharp Shooter. Fuji then threw salt in Bretís eye and Yoko pinned him. I canít believe Yoko didnít at least hit a move while Bret lay there blind, he just pinned him off the salt. This led to Hogan coming out to protest, leading to Fuji challenging Hogan to a title match right then (not sure why a manger would do that after his guy had just finished a match he almost lost). Hogan accepted after getting Bretís blessing (I doubt a heart felt one) and Hogan goes on to hit 2 moves to quickly pin the guy that had just beaten Bret for the title. No wonder Bret has issues with Hulk Hogan.
Not a very strong show, there were only three match I would say were good, those being the Michaels opener, the Steiners, and the Bret -Yoko main event. Everything else was either uneventful or dreadfully over booked. Iím looking forward to Mania X, because I have a lot of fond memories of that show, and canít wait to watch Bret and Owen. Ten may also be the last Mania that I watched back in the day because my career started to pick up after this and I was busy working. I may have seen parts of 11 but know 12 thru 16 Iíve never seen.