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Wrestlemania IX

Nothing major happening around the time leading up to the ninth Wrestlemania; The Ultimate Warrior was fired (again), Hogan took almost the whole year off, and Flair left the WWF and headed back to WCW.  Vince also gambled and took a chance on an up and coming superstar and gave him a suprising run with the title...

Wrestlemania IX (April 4, 1993)

We're live from Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas, NV.  This was a pretty cool location, as it was the first (and only) WM to take place outdoors.  As I watch this again I'm puzzled as to where exactly they set this up at.  After actually going to Vegas last year and hanging out at Caesar's, I tried to wander around and find where they did the show but I couldn't find anything!  During the show you can clearly see the towers at Caesar's, so maybe they constructed a mini-arena in the parking lot or something?  Eh who cares, the point is it looks freaking cool, and the location was apparently so cool in fact that they put it in a version of the Smackdown game as a hidden arena. 

Our announcers are Jim Ross (debuting here for the WWF), Randy Savage, and Bobby Heenan.  Of course you probably know the theme for this one is a toga party, so they got all the announcers, camera men, and ring crew wearing togas.  Would've been funnier if they had the referees wearing them too.

And they really cheese-up the Vegas-style pageantry here, with elephants, birds, sedans, etc.  They even have some generic-looking dude come out as "Julius Caeser" and he brings out some stripper and calls her "Cleopatra."  Sure it was dumb, but what the hell?

Match 1: IC Championship:  Shawn Micheals vs Tatanka

It was around this time that they started going with a longer match format, with slower-paced matches and such and such.  Heenan referring to Tatanka as "Tonto" and "Chief Running Chicken" makes me laugh for some reason...probably due to my rapant racism.  Anyway, HBK has Luna Vachon in his corner, Tatanka has Sherry, during her "I'm a face now but no one gives a damn" phase of her career.  HBK ends up outside the ring, pulls the ref out and gets counted out.  Oooh...crowd didn't like that one.  Vachon then attacks Sherry to set up a long seldom-used women's feud between the two.

Match 2: The Steiner Brothers vs The Headshrinkers

Scott was not yet Big Poppa Pump, and his brother Rick was not yet selling autographed 8x10's for crack.  The Headshrinkers (Samu and Fatu, the later would eventually start jamming his massive ass in guys' faces and calling himself Rikishi) were a pretty cool heel team.  These four have a good match back and forth as they pretty much toss each other around like stuffed animals.  The Steiners win after a Frankensteiner (that looked like it killed Samu) from Scotty.

Match 3: Crush vs Doink the Clown

Alright, let's clear something up right now...Doink the Clown at this point in time was AWESOME!  They created the character as an evil psychotic clown that fucked with kids, how can you not love that?  The problem was after awhile the guy playing Doink (Matt Bourne) quit the company so they had to find someone else, and he couldn't pull off all the sadisitic facial expressions and manical laughter that Bourne could; so they turned Doink into a good guy and paired him up with a miniature version (Dink) to appeal to kids.  That's when it all went downhill for the character of Doink the Clown.  But if you want to see some good stuff, check this period out.  Anyway, Doink made Crush (Hawaiian hero and coconut-crusher) mad after all the pranks he pulled on the kids, so Crush told him to knock it off.  So Doink came out one week with his "arm" in a cast and offered to make peace with Crush, only to pull the "arm" off (which was a fake cast) and smack Crush in the back of the head repeatedly with it!  Crush was naturally pissed so this match was made.  Crush beats the crap out of Doink for awhile until the referee gets knocked out.  Then as Crush went for his head-crusher finisher, ANOTHER DOINK ran into the ring and nailed Crush with the fake cast!  I thought this was so cool for some reason.  Until there starting being like 4-5 Doinks for every match he was in.  But for a little while it was a cool concept.

Match 4: Bob Backlund vs Razor Ramon

Sadly this was before Backlund snapped and started yelling and screaming about everything, using big words and calling himself "Mr. Backlund."  Here, he was just a creepy generic 43-year-old good guy attempting a comeback.  Razor would go onto superstardom pretty soon after this, although it would take a skinny little 150 pound punk to get him there.  Razor wins with a small package.

Match 5: Tag Team Championship: Money Inc. vs Hulk Hogan & Brutus Beefcake

And here's the big return for the Hulkster, as he teams with his buddy Beefcake, also making his return after injuring his face in some boating accident that pretty much killed his career.  And the world gently weeped.  The match was setup when Beefcake tried to make his return in a match on an early episode of "Monday Night Raw" against Dibiase.  After turning on manager Jimmy Hart, IRS and Dibiase smacked Beefcake across the face with IRS' briefcase.  Hogan then returned in outrage over what happened and biggity-bam, we got a title match.  Money Inc tries to channel what they did the previous year by walking out of the match, but the ref won't let them this time.  But they end up winning the match by DQ anyway.  Hogan steals the briefcase after the match and gives Money Inc.'s money away.  Again I have to stress if you can afford ringside seats to Wrestlemania, you don't need the Hulkster giving you free $100 dollar bills, damnit all.

Match 6: Mr. Perfect vs Lex Luger

I wish Flair could've stuck around for this show at least,  maybe they could've saved the "career ending match" he lost to Perfect for this show.  Instead, Flair left and they brought in Luger to feud with Perfect instead.  This was during Lex's "Narcissist" character which was at least better than "Made in the USA" Lex Luger.  Another lengthy match here, with Luger winning after some cheating on the ropes and junk.  He then knocks out Perfect with his "loaded" forearm (steel implant due to surgery after a motorcycle accident.)  Perfect then chases Luger to the back but gets jumped by Shawn Micheals who beats him up some more.  Jesus, Perfect didn't have a very good evening here.

Match 7: The Undertaker vs Giant Gonzalez

I didn't really mind Giant Gonzalez either, except for the goofy fake muscle suit they made him wear.  Yeah he was a shitty wrestler but who cares?  He was eight freaking feet tall!  This was during the Undertaker's phase where they put him in there with all sorts of giants, fat guys, and The Bezerker for some reason.  During the match the Giant takes a cloth soaked with "chloraform" and smothers the Undertaker, leaving him dead on the mat.  Undertaker wins by DQ obviously.  So they do this big long angle where they cart out the Undertaker only to have him return from the dead and brawl with Gonzalez some more.  I guess it's less dramatic after they went on to do it like 50 times since then.

Main Event: WWF Championship:  Bret Hart vs Yokozuna

Yes, Bret Hart shockingly won the title from Ric Flair and held onto in for over five months on the way to Wrestlemania.  I guess Vince decided to roll the dice and see if he could carry the company as champion.  Over the course of his reign, Bret was almost the anti-Hulk Hogan, as he defended the title almost every week and actually WRESTLED.  Yokozuna was the big monster challenger here, after winning the '93 Royal Rumble (first time the rumble winner got a title shot at WM, a tradition that still lives today.)  Bret tries to overcome the odds here but gets a handful of salt in his face from Mr. Fuji and gets pinned by Yokozuna to win the title.  But wait...here's the Hulkster.  Hogan complains about the cheating, and Fuji challenges Hogan for a title match right there and IT'S ON.  Big boot, leg drop, see ya.  New new champion.  It was definately shocking and they sent the fans home happy at least, but in hindsight this really sucked.  Basically they were saying "Bret, we don't believe in you as champ, here you go Hulkster, take it again."  And they had poor Yoko in the middle of it and made him look like a moron for even agreeing to put up the title right after he won the damn thing.  And it got worse afterwards as Hulk took like three months off and didn't defend the title until King of the Ring that year.  So Hulk gets his fifth title and disappears, Bret looks weak and Yoko looks dumb.  Way to ruin all you main event guys you bunch of idiots.

Match of the night:  Suprisingly one didn't really stand out...I guess I'll go with Steiners/Headshrinkers

Mark-out moment of the night:  Not really much of one the whole show, I'll go with the 2nd Doink coming out.

Summary:  This was the first Wrestlemania where critics and fans mostly hated the show.  There wasn't any classic matches, but there were a few cool little angles and some decent matches, but the Hogan title win at the end left a bad taste in a lot of people's mouths.


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