April 4, 1993
Las Vegas, Nevada
Announcers: Jim Ross, "Macho Man" Randy Savage & Bobby "The Brain" Heenan
I always thought this show was one of the better Wrestlemanias, but when I first dug up some reviews of it on the internet I was surprised to find that the popular consensus of this show is that it's a bad one. In fact, some have the nerve to rank it as one of the worst Wrestlemanias of all time. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I happen to think that it was a good show, and as we go match by match I'll show you why it is just that, and should not even be close to being in the running for the worst Wrestlemania of all time as some have dubbed it.
Visually speaking, this is the most impressive sight for any PPV. It's held outdoors during the daytime and the seats are enclosed by huge yellow walls with the Wrestlemania logo on top. There's a huge awning above the ring, held up by four pillars around ringside. The Caesar's theme is in full effect, and it adds a lot to the show. The announcers, as well as Howard Finkel, are decked out in togas.
Intercontinental Title: Tatanka vs. Shawn Michaels (Champion)
Sherri, formerly Shawn's valet, accompanies Tatanka to the ring, just to mess with Shawn. Michaels counters by bringing out Luna Vachon, making her WWF debut. Fortunately, they don't get involved until the match is over. Tatanka is undefeated entering this match and beat Shawn twice leading up to this, once in a non-Title match and once in a six man tag. Tatanka works on Shawn's shoulder to start, which Shawn injured in one of those previous matches. Tatanka works him over and Shawn bumps around like crazy, including taking an armdrag off the top. Shawn scores with a crescent kick to finally take over the match. He hits his awesome left armed clothseline off the apron. Tatanka makes the big comeback, gaining several progressively closer near falls, but can't put Shawn away. They brawl on the floor. Shawn is about to be counted out, so he pulls the ref down, prompting him to call for the bell at 18:14. The official announcement gives Tatanka the countout win, though it should have been a DQ instead. Moot point, however, as Michaels retains regardless. Good match. ***1/4 After the match, Luna viciously attacks Sherri, who has to be taken to the Caesar's Palace medical room for treatment.
Gene Okerlund interviews the Steiner Brothers, making their first, last, and only Wrestlemania appearance.
The Steiner Brothers vs. The Headshrinkers
Jim Ross, this being his first WWF PPV, debuts the term "slobberknocker" in the WWF when describing this match. Heenan keeps making fun of him, his Oklahoma roots, and his knowledge of "high school" sports. This is a great commentary team, as Heenan gets into it with both JR and Savage and still outwits them both. They go back and forth for a bit and the Headshrinkers toss the Steiners out to the floor. They turn around to celebrate, and both Rick and Scott climb to the top rope in the same corner and double clothesline them. Scott stays in, then takes a SICK bump as Samu shoots him off the ropes then picks him up, falls backwards with him, and just drops him over the top rope, head first. I don't know how he didn't get injured on that one. The Shrinkers work him over and no-sell everything to their head, a trait which Rikishi (Fatu) still does to this day, though it's never explained anymore. JR makes Heenan laugh out loud and momentarily break character. Scott makes the hot tag to Rick. He goes nuts, but the Shrinkers prepare to set him up for a double team move. Samu lifts Rick on top of his shoulders while Fatu goes to the top. Fatu jumps off, but Rick catches him in midair, while still on Samu's shoulders, and powerslams him all the way down to the mat in one smooth motion. Awesome spot. Scott finishes it with the Frankensteiner soon after at 14:22. **1/2 for some nice spots and the Scotty bump in between a solid match.
Gene interviews Doink the Clown, who mentions "double vision".
Crush vs. Doink
Both have awesome music. In the outdoors, it doesn't take Doink's makeup long before it starts to fade. Crush dominates the match, and hooks the Cranium Crunch, but the ref is bumped, so Doink can't submit. A second Doink comes out from under the ring, and nails Crush in the back of the head with a loaded cast. They mirror each other and laugh at the crowd. The second one goes back under the ring, and the original Doink covers for three at 8:29. * The crowd is shocked. This incident is now mocked by many, but at the time it was a cool angle. A second ref comes down to tell the first one what happened, and they look under the ring but can't find the mysterious second Doink. Heenan insists that it was an allusion and Ross and Savage are miffed. I think the reason a lot of people knock this is because it didn't lead to much down the road, and rather it was the start of an angle instead of a blowoff for Crush. But it didn't hurt Crush's momentum at all, and he continued to remain in the upper echelon of the midcard. It also made people care about the Doink, though the character did start on a downward spiral when he turned face in the fall.
Todd Pettengil, making his WWF debut, chills with the fans in the Uecker seats.
Bob Backlund vs. Razor Ramon
Razor seems to be over as a face even though he's a heel. He's coming off a WWF Title shot at the Royal Rumble (a shot he'd never see on PPV again) to the lowest match on the card. Oh well, he'd end up doing just fine for himself. Razor and Backlund start to feel each other out, and the crowd gets a huge "Razor" chant going. The announcers talk about an incident that occurred earlier in the day with Bret Hart and "The Narcissist" Lex Luger. As Bret was preparing to give an interview at the Wrestlemania brunch at the Caesar's Hotel, Luger came out of nowhere and knocked him out cold with his trademark running forearm. There are concerns that Bret isn't at 100% as a result. Razor gets a small package out of nowhere for the winning pinfall at 3:46. "He beat the wrestler with wrestling," as Heenan put it. *1/4
Mean Gene talks to the Tag Team Champions, Money Inc. They both slip up a bit during their promo, but get their point across. They show the events leading up to this, as on Monday Night Raw, they brutally attacked Brutus Beefcake, whose face was damaged from a parasailing accident two and a half years earlier. They rammed IRS's steel breifcase into his face repeatedly, and did so to the point where even their own major, Jimmy Hart, tried to stop them. A week later, Hulk Hogan announced that he was enraged over what they had done to his good friend Beefcake, and they would challenge them for the Tag Team Titles at Wrestlemania. Before they head to the ring, Money Inc. implies that there might be something wrong with Hulk Hogan after a certain incident at the gym last night. Cue DiBiase's evil laugh.
Tag Team Titles: Mega Maniacs vs. Money Inc. (Champions)
The Maniacs enter second with new manager Jimmy Hart, and the announcers immediately notice that one of Hogan's eyes is nearly swollen shut. It's funny hearing Savage speculate about it because the majority of the opinion is that in reality it was Savage that had a few words with Hogan the day before and punched up in the face, causing the shiner. The announcers, however, assume that there was some foul play on Money Inc.'s part for storyline purposes. Hogan and Beefcake clear the ring of the heels with their music still playing, then proceed to do some celebrating. This being Hogan's first match in a year, they're very over with the crowd. The match gets underway, and DiBiase gets pounded on by the faces for about five minutes. He and Irwin decide they've had enough, so they bail down the aisle, figuring they'll take the intentional countout to save their Titles like they've done in the past. But instead of counting them out, referee Earl Hebner tells Howard "Finkus Maximus" Finkel to announce that if they take the countout, not only will they lose the match, but they'll lose the Titles as well. Bobby and I don't understand how Hebner can make the rules up as he goes along, but the announcement gets a big pop from the crowd. Money Inc. rushes back into the ring, and soon get the better of Hogan. DiBiase puts him in the Million Dollar Dream. Hogan makes the big comeback, then we get a role reversal as the ref is busy with IRS and Beefcake sneaks in and puts DiBiase out with a sleeper. I guess Money Inc. is just no good without Jimmy running the show. Hogan makes the hot tag to Brutus who goes nuts until DiBiase manages a shot to the back with the briefcase. DiBiase pulls off Beefcake's protective mask and he and IRS beat on his face. Beefcake manages to get the sleeper on Irwin, but Teddy nails him from behind, sending him into the ref. Now, Beefcake, IRS, and Hebner are all down. For some reason Hogan and DiBiase wait in their repsective corners for the tag even though the ref is down. They finally come in, and Hogan hits both heels with Beefcake's mask. The Maniacs cover both DiBiase and IRS, but the ref is still out. Jimmy Hart comes in, turns his jacket inside out to reveal black and white stripes, then counts to three and awards his men the Titles. Uh, I don't think it works like that Jimmy. Another ref comes in, wakes Hebner up, and the Maniacs are disqualified at 18:41, presumably for Hart impersonating a referee. Money Inc. retains the Titles. Swerve! *** Jimmy tosses the ref out of the ring, Money Inc. bails, and the Maniacs celebrate with struts and poses. They notice that Irwin left his briefcase at ringside, and open it up to find some various paperwork, a load of cash, and a brick. Heenan, in defense of the evil Irwin: "You never know when you're gonna need a brick." Hogan and Beefcake pass out money to the crowd at ringside. The crowd loves Hogan. The celebration lasts for about eight minutes, with Real American playing all the while.
Todd talks to Natalie Cole at ringside, and then to the CEO of Caesars, who rambles on and on.
Gene talks to Mr. Perfect, and they again bring up how Luger knocked out Bret Hart earlier in the day. Perfect looks like he's enjoying himself. He gets a bit too excited and when talking about his opponent, says, "The Lexissist" Narc Luger. Something like that anyway.
Mr. Perfect vs. "The Narcissist" Lex Luger
Luger, still undefeated, has four scantily clad showgirls escort him out to the ring. They each have a mirror for him to pose in. Heenan and Savage take one look at the girls and cream their pants. They finally agree on something! Perfect enters second to a big pop. They go through a good wrestling sequence to start off. Perfect is flying around that ring. Luger catches him with a whip to the corner and Perfect sells a back injury. Luger's offense slows the match down a lot, but Perfect keeps it interesting with a big sunset flip that gets two. Perfect hooks a sleeper and Heenan takes credit for teaching him that. A Perfect small package gets a two count. A backdrop, slingshot, and neckbreaker all get near falls for Mr. P. He hits a dropkick off the top rope, but Luger gets his foot on the ropes at two. They battle over a backslide and Luger takes him over. Perfect's feet end up on the ropes, but the ref never notices, and counts the three for Luger at 10:57. Good match. *** Perfect comes up mad, confronts the ref about the count, and Luger nails him from behind with the Forearm, knocking him unconscious. Luger heads to the back, and then we get an ahead-of-its-time scene, as Perfect comes to after a couple of minutes, and storms down the aisle, clearly pissed off. The camera follows him through the curtain (awesome), and into the back area of the Palace. He finds Luger talking to Shawn Michaels by a garage, and jumps him, but Shawn makes the save, destroying Perfect with whatever he can get his hands on. Awesome segment.
The Undertaker vs. Giant Gonzalez
Not exactly a classic, as the near eight foot tall Gonzalez is nearly impossible to work with. They try their best though, as Gonzalez dominates with punches, and a few whips to the steps on the outside. Heenan jokes around about the impressive size of Gonzalez. "You know how some guys can palm a basketball? Well this guy can palm a Buick." Gonzalez can't put Taker away, and his manager, Harvey Wippleman, gives him a white cloth to use in desperation. The announcers, seated near ringside, sell that it smells a lot like chloroform. Gonzalez smothers Taker with it, and is DQ'ed at 7:33. DUD, but at least it didn't feel like it was that long. Refs come down to try to stop him, but Gonzalez chokeslams all of them. They finally wheel The Undertaker away on a stretcher, as the announcers speculate on whether he's dead or not. Gonzalez stands tall in the ring, but suddenly the bell tolls, and Taker comes stumbling back out down the aisle. Gonzalez is both shocked and terrified. The Undertaker punches away on him, then takes him off his feet with a big flying clothesline, a feat he never accomplished during the match. "You can't kill a dead man, and the Undertaker's already dead," says Savage. Can't argue with logic like that, folks.
Gene Okerlund interviews Hulk Hogan, who says he's just come from Bret Hart's locker room. Hogan is friends with Bret? He was just some midcarder last time you were around, Hogan. And we know you don't associate with midcarders. Anyway, Hogan, now decked out in his alternate red Hulkster outfit, issues a challenge to whoever walks out with the WWF Title tonight whether it be Bret or, and I quote, "the Jap, brother".
WWF Title: Bret "Hitman" Hart (Champion) vs. Yokozuna
Part of the reason this Wrestlemania is one of my favorites is because it's Bret's first time in the main event. Yokozuna and Mr. Fuji do their traditional salt tossing routine before the match. Bret gets a tremendous ovation. They stare each other down from opposite sides of the ring, and Bret charges at him with a dropkick right off the bat. He hooks Yoko's legs in the ropes to knock him off his feet, then puts the boots to him and hits a second rope elbow. Smart wrestling. The ref untangles Yoko, but Bret stays on him, clotheslining him twice. On the third try, however, it's Yokozuna that hits a clothesline. Yoko slams him and hits a big legdrop. The crowd gets a big USA chant going. Yoko is Japanese and Bret is Canadian, so I guess they're cheering for Hebner. Heenan is as amused as I am. Yoko eats boot on a corner charge, and Bret takes him down. Heenan likens him to a brama bull. Now where have I heard that one before? Yoko comes back with a crescent kick and goes to a nerve hold. An avalanche misses, and Hart hits a bulldog from the second rope to get two. The second rope elbow gets two again. A second rope clothesline and a Hart Attack style clothesline takes the big guy down. Bret does the ten punches in the corner, but Yokozuna powers out. Bret tries to hold on to the corner, and ends up ripping the turnbuckle pad off in the process. Yoko tries to take him to it, but Bret reverses and slams Yoko's head into it instead. Yoko falls flat on his face, and Bret acutally manages to hook the Sharpshooter despite Yoko's massive legs. JR is going nuts. "Sharpshooter, Sharpshooter, Sharpshooter!" Just as Bret cinches back and the ref goes to check on Yoko to see if he's submitting, Mr. Fuji takes out some salt, and throws it right in Bret's eyes. You bitch! Bret falls back, Yokozuna gets on top of him, hooks both legs and gets the three count at 8:56 to become the new WWF Champion. **3/4. Probably Yoko's best singles match ever. Bret rolls out of the ring, still selling the salt to the eyes, and Hulk Hogan runs down to check on him in the aisle.
Mr. Fuji grabs the microphone and insults Hogan, calling him a yellow belly. He challenges Hogan on behalf of the new Champion right here, right now. Idiot. Bret motions for Hogan to go, though really he's probably asking him to go get medical help. Man that he is, however, Hogan forgets about his friend and steps in the ring, where Yoko grabs him and holds him in position for another "salting". But Hogan's cagey veteran skills come into play and he ducks, leaving Yoko to take the salt to the eyes instead. Hogan clotheslines him, drops the leg and covers. Hebner makes the quick three count and just like that Hulk Hogan is the new WWF Champion. The crowd goes insane as Hogan is awarded the belt for an unprecedented fifth time. By comparison, at this point in time, no one else had ever won the Title even three times. It all happened so suddenly, and the crowd, disappointed just minutes ago, now erupts as Hogan celebrates to his music as the show goes off the air. Yokozuna's illustrious Title reign lasted all of 128 seconds by my count.
A lot of people hate this ending, citing it as the biggest instance of Hogan's ego getting involved. I think it's a good thing, though, and that's coming from the biggest Bret mark around. I'm not so sure this was as much a Hogan thing as it was Vince trying to top the previous year which featured the biggest surprise ending to date with the Ultimate Warrior returning. At Wrestlemania IX, it was only natural to take it one step further, and they chose to do that by booking two Title changes, including Hogan's surprise one. In turn, it was taken one step further again at Wrestlemania X with the card featuring two full length WWF Title matches. All in all, I have no problem with the ending because the crowd seemed to enjoy it and it gave a very positive feeling to the end of the show. At the time, everyone thought it would lead to Hogan vs. Hart with Hulk hopefully "passing the torch" to the Hitman, but that all changed when Hogan's bad attitude caused Vince McMahon to have enough of him and oust him from the company before that match could ever happen. Wrestlemania IX remains as Hulk Hogan's last hurrah in the WWF.
The rest of the card is very solid, with good matches left and right. The thing I think that hurts this in most people's minds is that there wasn't one classic match like most Wrestlemanias featured, but in actuality the overall card was much better than that of years' past. Unlike the "cookie cutter" Wrestlemanias, this one was free of three minute filler squashes and subpar Title matches. It was a very good card top to bottom. So let's review: An awesome venue/environment, a hot crowd, great commentary, several good matches, not a lot that sucked, a few cool angle advancements, and the biggest surprise ending anyone could have asked for. How in the world can all that possibly add up to a bad show, let alone the worst Wrestlemania of all time? Easy. It can't.
Note: Reader "Gobbeldy_Gooker" wrote to tell me that he attended Wrestlemania IX in person and had a wonderful time. He shares his experiences from the week of Wrestlemania IX with the world here.
Wrestlemania IX Key Stats
Total Wrestling: 90:58
Average Match: 11:22
Average Match Rating: **1/4
Top Moments: Shawn's effort, Steiner's bumping, the Double Doinks, Hogan's return, Perfect's segment, the Undertaker's resiliancy, Bret's effort, and the surprise ending for the ages
^ indicates that I did not count Hogan's short match with Yokozuna.
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