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Wrestlemania VIII

"Well, Wrestlemania 8 took place last Sunday.  Experts are still trying to figure out why." - Kevin Nealon, SNL "Weekend Update"

Yeah, that pretty much sums it up.  Which is a shame because at this point the product was still good, but no one felt like watching anymore.  Even though mainstream popularity dwindled, there was still a lot of cool stuff going on in the year leading up to the eighth Wrestlemania.  Here are some highlights:

1. The signing of WCW monster Sid Vicious, who was on the verge of superstardom

2. The firing of the Ultimate Warrior, which led to one of the biggest suprises ever at a Wrestlemania

3. The declining popularity of Hulk Hogan.  For the first time, Hogan started receiving some jeers from the crowd

4. The heel turn of Jake "The Snake" Roberts into arguably the most evil sadistic prick in the history of wrestling...leading to the reinstatement of Randy Savage.  Roberts hid a snake in one of the wedding gifts during Savage & Liz's "wedding," he attacked Savage with a king cobra and had the snake actually BITE Savage on the arm for like three minutes, and then when he fought Macho during Savage's big return he dragged Liz into the ring and PUNCHED HER IN THE FACE.  That kind of shit was not seen in wrestling.  Evil Jake was portrayed as the devil and man did he play that part well.

5. And the crown jewel...WCW's idiot brain trust actually fired Ric Flair while he was WCW champion.  So the WWF brought Flair in with the WCW title, and he referred to himself as the "real" world champion.  This was ground-breaking stuff.  In fact, Flair had the most memorable debut in wrestling on an episode of the saturday morning show.  During his entrance to the ring he spotted the announcing crew for the show (at that point it was Vince McMahon, Roddy Piper and a still-retired Randy Savage)  Piper had made some comments in previous weeks about not calling Flair the "real" world's champion.  Flair spotted him and got in his face, and then smacked Piper in the head with his belt!  Savage was on probation so he couldn't interfere, so Vince tried to step in to help.  And Piper (turning around and thinking it was Flair) LEVELED Vince in the back with a chair!  It was the first time McMahon became physically involved in something.  Piper and Flair went on to have a great feud.

So the stage was set for the eighth annual "greatest wrestling extravaganza of all time."

Wrestlemania VIII  (April 5, 1992)

We're live from the Hoosier Dome in Indianapolis, IN.  Well, even though it was becoming less popular, they still managed to jam around 60,000 people into the place.  I just loved those huge stadium shows, they made the event so much cooler to watch when it looked different.  Our hosts are Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenan, now retired from managing and doing commentating full-time.  Reba Mcintyre kicks things off with the national anthem.  She currently comes into the homes of at least 15 people with her hit show on the CW network.

Match 1: Tito Santana vs Shawn Micheals

Tito's WM streak continues, as he's now wrestled at every WM since they started.  He was into his "El Matador" character at this point, where he studied and became a bull fighter in order to become a better wrestler.  I'm not sure how that would've helped unless he was constantly fighting Earthquake or something.  Anyway, of course his main job was to put over new heels, and ol' HBK just completed his heel turn and split from partner Marty Jannetty, currently...fired at this point?  I can never remember.  Santana nails Micheals with his finisher the "El Paso DeMuerte" which Heenan mistakenly calls "Extra Hot Pace Picante."  HBK comes back and nails...something?  Looks like Santana fell while suplexing HBK into the ring, and Shawn gets the pin.  Decent match.

Mean Gene Okerlund brings out the Legion of Doom for an interview live on the arena floor.  They bring out Paul Ellering as their new manager.  Sadly there's no Rocco the talking dummy yet.  Don't ask.

Match 2: The Undertaker vs Jake "The Snake" Roberts

Sadly Roberts' awesome heel run ends here, as he left the WWF after this and went over to WCW a few months later.  This match was brought about when The Undertaker, who was Jake's partner in crime turned against him after the Snake tried to attack Savage & Elizabeth yet again.  Wow, you know you're an evil bastard when THE UNDERTAKER thinks you're going too far!  After The Undertaker told Jake to stick it, Roberts snapped and shoved 'Taker's hand in a coffin and locked it shut!  He then DDT'd Paul Bearer and beat the Undertaker with a chair like ten times!  Now THAT's a villian.  Damn I miss Evil Jake.  Anyway, since Roberts was on his way out the Undertaker buries him here, although not literally.  Undertaker wins after a tombstone on the floor.

Match 3: IC Championship:  Roddy Piper vs Bret Hart

Piper was nearing the end of his run too (until the next time he showed up that is) and they gave him a run with the IC title for one last hurrah.  A rare face vs face title match, and it's another instant WM classic.  These two pull out all the stops; technical wrestling, psychology, and even cheating.  Hart gets busted wide open during the match, but he pulls it off at the end after Piper goes for a sleeper and Hart drags him to the corner, uses the ropes to spring off, and falls on top of Piper while he still had the hold.  Hart wins the title for the second time and they hug afterward.  Great match.

Match 4: Jim Duggan, Sgt. Slaughter, Big Bossman & Virgil vs The Nasty Boys, The Mountie & Repo Man

Hey, it's a generic 8-man tag for no reason other than to get these guys a paycheck!  Slaughter is a good guy here, but it took awhile for fans to actually get behind him again.  Probably because of the Iraq thing if you ask me.  Virgil has a face protector on due to an attack by Sid Justice before this.  A bunch of stuff happens, one of the Nasties hits the other one accidently with Virgil's face protector and Virgil covers for the win.  Also of note was Family Feud host Ray Combs doing the ring introductions for this match and does some of the WORST jokes I've ever heard.  They probably went over well with the 72 year olds that loved to watch Family Feud though.

Match 5: WWF Championship:  Ric Flair vs Randy Savage

Oh yeah, anytime Hogan wasn't fighting for the title they had to have a "double main event" so he could get top billing anyway.  Douchebag.  Anyway, this match was setup when Flair started making accusations of an affair with Liz.  Naturally that didn't go over too well with Savage.  Man, Elizabeth didn't have a very good year, eh?  From being freaked out finding a snake in one of her wedding presents, to getting hit by Roberts, to being accused of sleeping with Flair!  That's more activity in a half a year than she had for her first three!  Anyway, another classic here, as Flair could always be counted on for a great match.  Flair also bleeds a gusher, and his corner man Mr. Perfect helps him cheat like a son of a bitch.  They destroy Savage's knee with chairshots and the figure-four.  Savage comes back with a roll-up, pulls the tights and wins the title for a 2nd time!  Flair then snaps and plants a kiss on Liz after the match, with Savage going NUTS and attacking until the whole thing turns into a big bru-ha-ha.  Flair and Perfect give a classic interview afterwards bitching about Savage cheating to win, while ignoring the fact that they both cheated like mofo's! 

Match 6: Tatanka vs Rick Martel

Tatanka was a rookie at this point and no one gave a rat's ass.  Martel was pretty much worthless at this point too, although he was still a good worker.  Anyway, Tatanka wins with...something.  I just watched the thing and I can't remember.  But really, who gives a frick?

Match 7: Tag Team Championship: Money Inc. vs Natural Disasters

Money Inc. was Ted Dibiase and IRS, and they joined forces to win the tag titles from LOD after Jimmy Hart swerved his own team the Natural Disaters (Earthquake & Typhoon) out of a title shot.  Well they ended up getting one here anyway, so there went that plan.  This one was pretty basic and boring, and after Money Inc get the crap kicked out of them for awhile they just run out of the ring, take the titles and leave, taking the countout.  Alright, that was kinda cheap.

Match 8: Owen Hart vs Skinner

And here's our one minute patented Wrestlemania squash, with Owen putting Skinner away with a roll-up.  I think the guy who played Skinner currently works with the WWE as a road agent.  Would you want Skinner laying out your match for you?

Main Event:  Hulk Hogan vs Sid Justice

They brought Sid in earlier in the year as a good guy and put him with Hogan as his buddy.  Then something funny happened...during the '92 Royal Rumble it was down to Sid, Hulk and Flair.  Sid snuck behind Hogan and eliminated him, to massive cheers from the crowd!  That was the first backlash against the almighty Hulkster I think.  So of course, they turned Sid into a heel so they wouldn't destory Hulk's popularity any further, but another cool thing happened...Sid was of course better as a psycho bad guy than he was a good guy anyway.  Seriously, all Sid had to do was laugh maniacally and scream alot and he was set.  They billed this match as possibly being Hulk's final match, and he did take a lot of time off after this to do more movies and stuff.  Sid gives a insanely funny pre-match interview, where he cuts Okerlund off mid-sentence and says "Shut up, you fat, bald-headed little oaf!"  That still makes me laugh everytime I see it.  Anyway, the match is a typical Hogan match, where he gets beat up, but hulks up and comes back.  But there's a catch finally...voodoo man Papa Shango (eventually the Godfather) runs in, causes a DQ and both guys beat up Hogan.  Then, shockingly, THE ULTIMATE FREAKING WARRIOR runs into the ring and chases them off!!  This was huge, nobody knew he would come back after being fired.  Hogan & Warrior pose together in the ring to close out the show.

Match of the night:  Hard to choose between Piper & Hart and Savage & Flair, but I gotta go with Savage vs Flair

Mark out moment of the night:  Duh...the Warrior returning

Summary:  Awesome Wrestlemania, one of the best ever.  Kind of an important one too, as Hulk finally took some time off and let Savage & Warrior & Flair run at the top for awhile.  And it was the last WM at a large stadium for like ten years too, so that counts for something.

****1/2


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