The Wrestlemania Countdown: Day One

March 17th, 2010 by | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Over a year ago, I took my enjoyment of the WWE Royal Rumble match and turned it into a week-long list. Watching 20+ 1-hour matches wasn’t too hard and I think it came off pretty well. The one true way to follow it up would be to give the same business to all 25 Wrestlemanias, only as a twelve-day countdown. It’s a tall order.

For one, there are more Wrestlemanias than Royal Rumbles. Secondly, each show lasts somewhere between 3-4 hours, with Wrestlemania 20 lasting a full 5 hours. I had my work cut out for me, so I spent the last two months watching every show in random order. The last major problem is how do I rank it? With the Royal Rumbles, I was only ranking the Rumble matches themselves and that isn’t TOO hard. With all the Wrestlemanias, there are over 250 matches in total.

Some lists I’ve seen don’t so much rate the shows as wholes, but as a handful of moments. A couple good memories or a couple bad memories can paint a full picture in your head about how the show was, even though you’re missing out on all the other bells and whistles. So here’s how I decided to do this.

Each match gets rated 0-10, based on how much I liked it. It doesn’t have to be a great technical exhibition. I know a long while back, Dave Meltzer voted Hogan vs. Andre at Wrestlemania 3 as “negative four stars”, but I’m not Dave Meltzer. I rated it high because it’s an epic match that tells a good story. I’m not going to point out what number I rated each match (I don’t want that to be the focus), but I will tell you this: there’s only one Wrestlemania match I’ve considered SO BAD that I had to give it a zero. I’ll let you guess that one. It isn’t in today’s update.

Anyway, each match is rated 0-10. Every main event and top title match (WWF/WWE Title and World Heavyweight Title) are counted twice, since they have more emphasis on the show. The exception is the Bret Hart/Shawn Michaels Iron Man Match, which I count as three matches. Then there’s “the atmosphere”, which counts as two matches. The atmosphere is the grab bag of miscellaneous stuff from the show that isn’t part of an actual match. Backstage segments, in-ring segments, intro videos, the arena’s setup, musical segments and so on. The bells and whistles of the show. When all that’s done, I average out the tally and give it a final score. Sounds fair, I think.

The two things I don’t take into consideration are the national anthem segments in the beginning – because it’s silly to have to compare them – and the dark matches/Free for All/Heat matches. Though I will hold it against the show if there’s a fairly high profile match during the pre-show that really should have been on the PPV.

Oh, and I’m going to toss in the YouTube videos of WWE Legends of Wrestlemania’s rivalry packages when we get to those specific matches. They rule too much not to.

Just about every Wrestlemania list I’ve seen considers Wrestlemania 9 the absolute worst Wrestlemania. Not me. Check it.


Date: March 31, 1996
Era: New Generation
Location: Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim, California
Notable Debuts: “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Triple H, Goldust, Sable, Vader, Ahmed Johnson

And this is where readers get pissed off. Wrestlemania 12 is the Wrestlemania that’s been sacrificed. The first half of the show is dedicated to one match. The second half of the show is dedicated to another. Leading up to the show, WWF President Gorilla Monsoon has been put on the shelf thanks to Vader. His temporary replacement “Rowdy” Roddy Piper has decided that the contracted Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels match for the title needs to be a 60-minute Iron Man match. He also decides that the creepy upstart Goldust needs to be taught a lesson that only Piper can provide. Why Piper? Because Goldust’s main rival Razor Ramon is on his way out of the company and it makes no sense to have him go over in such a high-profile match. Then again, Piper’s on his way out too… Oh, whatever!

Notice that Razor is on that poster anyway. And Undertaker stopped wearing that mask months before.

The Atmosphere

It all begins with a dramatic narration about the main event and how much it means to be the challenger and the champion… which then goes directly into the cheesy-as-all-hell Wrestlemania theme the company liked to think was a good song for several years. You know, the “Whoa-ooh, whoa-ooh, it’s Wrestlemania!” song.

What does this show have going for it? We have a decent interview segment between Mr. Perfect and a chill Diesel. The ring is covered with faded Wrestlemania logos, which is something I’d like to see brought back. I remember after the show they cut up that canvas and sold it to fans, each piece signed by Shawn Michaels.

Otherwise, the show doesn’t have much going for it in the non-wrestling department. The video package for Piper and Goldust is filled with really cheesy narrating and a bad guitar riff. The package for Bret and Shawn’s match comes off as a 3rd rate documentary. “Wild Man” Marc Mero (or as Todd Pettengill calls him “Marc Maro”) makes his debut in a very off segment taking place shortly after the Helmsley/Ultimate Warrior match. He starts off with an almost heel-like promo as he goes over a list of potential opponents who are all faces. Then Helmsley walks out with his valet Sable and yells at her, only there’s no microphone around so you can’t hear a word. This leads to him and Mero angrily rolling around together as again you can’t hear a thing.

I won’t count it, since like I said, this is for the Wrestlemanias themselves, but the Free for All special leading into the PPV showed the infamous Nacho Man vs. Huckster match, which was the complete antithesis of classy. It also bothers me for two reasons. One, why are you making fun of how old and out of touch Hogan and Savage are on the night that’s making a bit deal about the return of the Ultimate Warrior, as well as featuring Jake Roberts? Two, it’s a show that buries Hogan and Helmsley and they would go on to wrestle each other for the title six years later.

Anyway, on to the matches. There are only six of them here because of the main event and this being less than three hours long. It’s telling when the finals of a tournament for new tag champs is shown on the preview show. The Bodydonnas beat the Godwinns, if you’re wondering. I’m sure there’s a joke in there about a team of blond-haired white guys with superiority complexes dealing with guys named Godwinn, but I need to move forward.

The Matches

We start it off with Ahmed Johnson, Yokozuna and Jake “The Snake” Roberts vs. Camp Cornette (Vader, Owen Hart and the British Bulldog). After the sound guy merges all three face themes into one chain, the faces rush the ring and clear it out. Ahmed and Yokozuna screw up a spot where Yokozuna’s supposed to Irish Whip Ahmed into a leap over the top rope into the opponents on the outside, but Ahmed does it on his own anyway. Yokozuna and Vader begin to duke it out, but Owen blind tags in. Despite his size, he’s able to get Yokozuna on the ropes and this match takes a turn for the unique.

You see, Yokozuna spends several minutes as the face in peril, getting beat up by the Camp Cornette crew. Yokozuna? The biggest dude in the match? Huh. Okay, I guess they’re trying to make a big deal out of Ahmed Johnson. Lo and behold, he does get the hot tag. Only in moments, Ahmed ends up being the face in peril, beaten down by the heel team. So, what, they’re trying to hype up Jake Roberts as the big savior? Yes, he gets tagged in, but then HE becomes the face in peril! Camp Cornette is completely dominant here.

Yokozuna gets the tag in and starts to clean house as everyone gets involved. After a million failed attempts, Jake finally gets Owen with the DDT, but then takes a go at Jim Cornette and attempts a DDT on him. Vader jumps him from behind and delivers a Vader Bomb, getting the pin, even though Vader isn’t the legal man.

It’s a good match, but what I really like is the stipulation. If Yokozuna were to win, he would have had five minutes alone with Cornette. I can’t believe that isn’t used more often.

I’m not sure if the ”Rowdy” Roddy Piper vs. Goldust Backlot Brawl counts as an actual match, but it eats up almost all of the first half of the show. It starts off in a Hollywood back alley as Piper awaits Goldust. Goldust shows up in a gold Cadillac, prompting Piper to spray the windshield with a hose, take a bat to the doors and pull Goldust out. For a couple minutes, Piper beats the hell out of Goldust, I guess trying to remind viewers of his They Live fight sequence, since it’s the only Hollywood thing people remember him for. Goldust gets a surprise nutshot in, gets back into his car, runs Piper over and then drives off. Piper gets up, runs into a white Ford Bronco and gives chase.

Over the course of the next couple matches, we would get updates. This includes Piper calling commentator Vince McMahon on his car phone to say that he’s going to get that gold son of a bitch. Occasionally, we’d see shots of Piper’s Ford Bronco chasing Goldust’s car and one shot that really is swiped from the OJ Simpson chase.

Prior to the main event, the two arrive at the arena. Piper chases Goldust to the ring and is quickly taken down. There’s not much back-and-forth here. It’s simply Goldust kicking Piper’s ass to the point that we wonder why he was running from him in the first place. Like all great wrestling heroes, Piper gets his second wind. Does it come from the energy of the fans? Does it come from doing a Native American dance? Does it come from the power of an urn? Nope. It comes from the might of homophobia! Every time Goldust touches Piper’s ass or anything like that, Piper gets angrier and angrier until hitting his breaking point and wrecking Goldust’s shit. From here on, Piper’s offense is 90% attacks to Goldust’s balls. He then attacks our libidos by tearing off Goldust’s tights and revealing a black thong and bra underneath. Goldust runs off with Marlena and tries to cover up.

Thankfully, this time Piper decides not to keep chasing him.

But hey, there’s still some good stuff in there. Savio Vega faces “Stone Cold” Steve Austin from back when Austin had mobility, as well as Ted Dibiase in his corner and the Million Dollar Belt around his waist. He uses a lot of great heel offense that I’m not used to seeing from him, including a top-rope aerial attack. While he and Savio are both really good, the match is far from flawless. Most notable is a spot where they do a series of near falls that looks very sloppy. Savio gets the advantage and tries to put Austin away with his Spinning Heel Kick. Austin ducks and the referee gets knocked out instead. With the ref out cold, Austin uses the Million Dollar Belt to smash in Savio’s face, then bury it into the back of Savio’s skull. Austin puts Savio in a chin lock and Dibiase pours soda over the ref’s face to wake him up. Savio is knocked out, so Austin wins.

That’s right, Steve Austin won his first Wrestlemania with a chin lock. Eat your heart out, Randy Orton.

The Ultimate Warrior vs. Hunter Hearst Helmsley is the third thing this PPV is remembered for. It begins with Warrior running out under a really cool sparkler display over the ramp that slowly forms the same shape as his mask. The match is very, very short with Triple H pounding on Warrior and hitting the Pedigree almost immediately. Warrior springs back up, takes off his long coat with Liefeldian drawing of himself on the back, hits a bunch of clotheslines, the shoulder tackle, the Gorilla Press and a splash to finish it off. Can you believe this match was the Warrior’s idea?

If I was a lesser man, I would have given this match a huge rating due to Triple H getting a taste of his own medicine years before he would pull the same stuff on other wrestlers. Two wrongs don’t make a right, though, so I’m going to have to recognize this as a flash-in-the-pan return that went nowhere devouring the heat of a young up-and-comer.

As a reminder, this is the Ultimate Warrior’s first appearance for his third and final WWF run. He ends up taking part in some worthless feuds (Goldust and Jerry Lawler) and talks about destrucity and all those other made up words until being crushed by Vader and sent off.

I notice Triple H appears in WWE Legends of Wrestlemania in his blueblood phase from this era, but doesn’t appear at all in the main Relive/Rewrite/Redefine mode, despite Ultimate Warrior being there. Looks like someone got a memo to not emphasize this match in Wrestlemania’s history. It wouldn’t be the first time they’ve tried to protect him from looking bad in the world of videogames.

Diesel vs. the Undertaker is way better than I expected and I’d even call it one of Kevin Nash’s best matches. It starts with some crazy energy as they tear into each other. Undertaker hits the Old School Ropewalk, which looks weird considering how much taller Diesel is. They brawl outside forever with the ref deciding not to count. Once back in the ring, Diesel hits Undertaker with a totally sweet boot to the face and takes the lead for a good while. Undertaker fights back and they start punching back and forth, leading to a double running boot that knocks them both out.

Diesel puts Undertaker in a bearhug for a couple moments until Undertaker hits a belly-to-back suplex, slowly gets to the top-rope and hits Diesel with a clothesline. Undertaker tosses Diesel across the ropes and ducks down for a backdrop attempt, only to be pulled in for a Jackknife Powerbomb. Rather than go for the pin, Diesel takes a second to taunt the crowd and Paul Bearer. Undertaker sits up, but Diesel doesn’t sweat it. He picks him back up and hits another Jackknife. He takes his time, continuing to mess with the crowd. By the time he goes for the pin, Undertaker meets him with a hand to the throat. Diesel tries battering Undertaker down, but it doesn’t stop him from fighting back. Undertaker overcomes Diesel, hits a jumping clothesline, a chokeslam and plants him with a Tombstone Piledriver.

Sweet match. In fact, I think this would have to be the Undertaker’s first good Wrestlemania match. It is weird that losing this match made Diesel #1 contender for the title, but wrestling is filled with silly logic like that.

This brings us to the main event, Bret “Hitman” Hart defending the WWF World Title against “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels in an Iron Man Match. First thing to point out is that while I haven’t done the full math, I’m pretty sure Bret/Shawn takes up half of the show. If it doesn’t, it’s really close. The show is two hours and 49 minutes long. From bell-to-bell, the match is an hour and two minutes. Then you factor in everything else. The various video packages, the entrances (including Shawn’s elaborate zipline), the lengthy post-match celebration and a really pointless timewaster where the referee goes over the rules. He really goes over how pins, count-outs and even five-counts work before starting the match.

Apparently this match has been voted the greatest match in Wrestlemania history back on some WWE special in ’04. In other words, I know I’m not going to be the most popular guy for saying what I’m about to say.

This match isn’t awful, but a lot of it is boring as fuck.

Listen, do I think Bret and Shawn work well together? Certainly. Is it impressive that they wrestled for over an hour? Yes, definitely! But it’s impressive in the same way David Blaine’s publicity stunts are impressive: in the end, I’m not all that entertained by it.

From the beginning, I’m not big on Iron Man matches because due to the scripted drama of wrestling, they’re essentially telling you that the first 59 minutes are filler. It’s going to be even or extremely close until those last few seconds. Add to that, this match has absolutely no falls during the hour as a way to show how evenly matched they are. Ultimately, that means making it an Iron Man Match is worthless. It’s an excuse to have them spend the first half hour pacing themselves with boring holds and to have Michaels win in a way that isn’t completely clean. They should have just kept it a regular match so they could wrestle their asses off and keep it intriguing.

As I said, the first half hour is a big pile of nothing. Occasionally someone will pull off something like a headscissors takedown and wake up commentators Vince McMahon and Jerry Lawler. Then it goes back into a rest hold and Vince and Jerry have to become wistful about how great that headscissors was and watch a replay.

The only thing of note during this half is Bret’s attempt at a Sharpshooter. Shawn grabs onto the ropes and they both go to the outside. Bret is tossed into a post and sits on the timekeeper’s lap for a brief second before dodging a superkick aimed at him. That part’s cool.

Once it hits the halfway point, the match actually starts! They stop holding back and start doing stuff! Crossbodies from the top! Superplexes! Piledrivers! Attempts at count-outs! All that fun shit! If this was a regular match or nearly anything other than an Iron Man match, this would have been so awesome! But again, there are no falls in any of this.

With about a minute left, Michaels goes to the top and goes for some kind of attack, which backfires. He’s caught and Bret puts him in the Sharpshooter. Rather than tap, Shawn waits out the clock. Bret lets go, takes his belt and walks away in victory, since a draw means he keeps his champion status. Gorilla Monsoon insists that the match continues. Bret angrily walks in and gets Sweet Chin Music to the face. Shawn passes out for a second and gets up before Bret. He finishes him off with another Sweet Chin Music and wins his first world title.

There’s a story within the match about how Bret refused to sell a lot of Shawn’s work on his arm, which pissed Shawn off to the point of having the ref tell Bret to, “Get the fuck out of my ring.” To make it sting even more, Bret’s son is in the front row, happily singing along to Shawn’s theme song after the match.

It’s a shame how this show turned out, considering the roster they had to play with. On paper, it’s a top notch roster, but when you take a second look at it, a lot of the New Generation guys were on the way out and most of the Attitude Era talent have yet to get their footing. On the other hand, this point in WWF history did give us this.

Haha, that’s horrible.


Date: April 5, 1992
Era: Hogan Era
Location: Hoosier Dome in Indianapolis, Indiana
Notable Debuts: Ric Flair, Sid, Shane McMahon, Lex Luger, Tatanka, the Godfather (as Papa Shango)

Wrestlemania 8 is in the final days of the Hogan Era and it goes out with what I can easily say is the stupidest storyline of any Wrestlemania main event. Yes, even stupider than the Yokozuna/Bret Hart/Hogan garbage from Wrestlemania 9. It’s based on an angle where Hogan is the face and Sid Justice is his former friend who has turned on him based on Hogan vs. Flair being named the main event of the show. That’s how it’s supposed to look. Really, Hogan comes off as a gigantic douche throughout the angle prior to the heel turn by costing Sid the Royal Rumble out of spite and interrupting Sid’s face promos with his own face promos! Once Sid pushes back, suddenly he’s the bad guy. Hogan decides that the WWF Championship isn’t important and drops out of his match with Ric Flair because Sid left during a tag match. As if he hasn’t shit on the title enough, Hogan vs. Sid is the final match of the show, while Ric Flair and Randy “Sloppy Seconds” Savage are relegated to the halfway point.

Heh. “Sloppy Seconds”. That name still fits when you consider the Savage/Flair/Elizabeth storyline.

The Atmosphere

“The Purple Wrestlemania”, as I always thought of it as a kid, is the last one to have the kickass classic Wrestlemania theme that started with Wrestlemania 6. Vince gives us a hearty intro, accompanied by some of the ugliest and most 80’s images to hype up the double main event, even though it’s the 90’s! The Hoosier Dome definitely gives the show its own unique look to help stand out, which is nice, but the backstage segments are for the most part extremely lacking. The biggest non-wrestling segment involves the Legion of Doom coming out after the first match to do a promo about how they have their original manager Paul Ellering back. Their interview has them rail on the tag champs Money Incorporated in a way that completely ignores their title defense against the Natural Disasters and ultimately looks past them. To explain it better, it’s like they’re saying, “We’re going to defeat Money Inc. for the titles! Even though they have a match tonight against some guys who are the odds-on favorites, we’re going to be beating Money Inc. for the titles at some point! Just as long as Vince McMahon doesn’t give us a lame gimmick where our manager starts carrying around a ventriloquist dummy with him!”

Speaking of dummies, they choose to interview Brutus Beefcake backstage for the Hogan/Sid match even though Beefcake has very little reason to. He has no role in the match and the only connection is that he’s Hogan’s friend and Sid busted up his Barber Shop set. It’s more that they have nothing for him and give him an excuse to go on TV. That isn’t nearly as bad as Bobby Heenan interviewing Lex Luger via satellite. Lex isn’t there to promote wrestling, but the World Bodybuilding Federation. Or is it World Bodybuilding Entertainment now?

Not to say that there isn’t some good. Jake Roberts delivers, where he refers to giving Paul Bearer a DDT as, “Short ride; rough landing.” Randy Savage’s post-match interview is really good, though he starts to go completely off the rails at the end. Roddy Piper and Bret Hart have an interview together that makes for a perfect preview of their match, as Piper talks about Bret growing up while tossing in various insults here and there until Bret has had enough. But the best? The Mountie, Repo Man and the Nasty Boys doing the promo of the century. I can’t do it justice, but it involves the Mountie saying he’s met up with “a local po-lice” and everyone acting like they’re completely coked up. How is this not on YouTube?

The Matches

I see that the opening bout is ”El Matador” Tito Santana vs. Shawn Michaels and I get excited. What a perfect hot opener to start off Wrestlemania! Sadly, it’s not to be. That’s not to say it isn’t totally worth it, just for the transition. You see, Reba McEntire sings the national anthem before this match. Bobby Heenan keeps insisting that she’s Tito’s sister based on her name being “Arriba”. Bobby seriously made this whole show better than it would have been without him.

Michaels comes out wearing a jacket saying, “I’m too sexy for this crowd.” Wow. This is the 90’s, all right. Despite being what should be a high-paced match, it’s really slow, considering a considerable amount of it is Tito putting Michaels in a chin lock. Michaels later escapes a resthold and hits the Superkick, which has yet to gain its match-ending powers. He goes for his old finisher, the Teardrop Suplex, but Tito gets out of it, goes across the ropes and hits the Flying Forearm. Michaels sells this finisher by rolling out of the ring. A few minutes later, a second Flying Forearm hits Michaels in the center of the ring and he once again goes out of the ring and stumbles around a bit. Nice nerfing job, WWF. You spend all that time repackaging Tito into a new gimmick, then completely kill his finishing move. Tito grabs Michaels on the apron and pulls him in for a bodyslam, but falls back. Michaels simply gets the pin.

Adding to the pain is a fan in the crowd who won’t let up on the annoying screaming over how much he and/or she hates Michaels.

This is followed by that aforementioned Legion of Doom promo, so you can understand that I’ve yet to be pumped up about this show.

Undertaker vs. Jake “The Snake” Roberts at least has some potential. It starts off cool enough with Jake doing stick-and-move against the lumbering Undertaker, but none of it does any damage. Again, I have to laud Bobby Heenan, whose hype on the Undertaker makes him sound more afraid of him than the guy currently getting beat up. By this point, Undertaker hasn’t gotten a handle on wrestling like a face, so the constant chokes aren’t doing him any favors. Especially the one that Jake is supposed to stumble into, but accidentally falls over before Undertaker can grab him right. At least he’s able to bring out the jumping clothesline to wake everyone up. Undertaker is hit with a surprise DDT and Jake gives him a second one to make sure. While it seems like he can get a pin out of it, he decides to instead go outside of the ring and attack Paul Bearer. Undertaker sits up, rolls out after Jake and gets him with a Tombstone onto the outside floor. Jake gets pinned and leaves the company for several years. If anything, it at least gives closure to Jake’s sinister heel run by putting him up against someone who will decisively deliver his punishment despite any trick Jake can muster.

”Rowdy” Roddy Piper defends the Intercontinental Title against Bret “The Hitman” Hart in what is easily the match of the night. It’s a face vs. face match with the history being played up in that Bret and Piper are close friends with Bret sick of Piper playfully joking about what Bret was like growing up. It starts off tensely, as after Bret out-wrestles Piper and sends him to the outside, Piper gets in his face, Bret shoves him back and Piper spits in Bret’s face. The mat wrestling between the two is fantastic. A great touch is that when Bret feigns an injury and shows that he’s playing possum, Piper acts betrayed and gets even more riled up at him for it. Yet Piper shows himself to be above Bret by opening the ring ropes for him when Bret is propelled out of the ring. The psychology is off the charts. Helping this is Bobby Heenan suggesting and supporting the more underhanded tactics that each wrestler lowers himself to.

There’s a double clothesline spot that knocks them both out, but Bret plays possum again and waits for Piper to go for the top-rope before enacting offense. Bret gets Piper in a headlock and is shoved into the ref, knocking him out. Piper sees the situation at hand and uses the ref’s sleepy time to escape the ring and pick up the bell. The crowd boos as Piper stands with the weapon in hand over a beaten Bret Hart, but Piper’s conscience comes into play and he discards the bell to the approval of the fans. With the ref getting back up, Piper puts Bret into the sleeper, but Bret is able to bounce off the ropes and roll it back into a successful pinning combination. Piper hands him the belt and the two leave as friends… with Heenan thinking it’s disgusting.

The filler match following it isn’t so bad either. Big Boss Man, “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan, Sergeant Slaughter and Virgil take on The Mountie, Repo Man and the Nasty Boys (Brian Knobbs and Jerry Sags). Ray Combs, the least uplifting Family Feud host, to put it gently, introduces the match by reading the “surveys” of questions he asked the fans earlier. It’s Combs making funny insult comedy jabs at the heels in the match, but then ruins it by constantly adding, “That’s what the survey says! I’m just saying what the survey says!” after each sentence. Once he has the whole heel team riled up, he rolls out of the ring and high-tails it.

The face team isn’t made up of the crispest group of wrestlers, so their attempts to do Irish Whips and clotheslines at the same time end in disaster. They’re at least able to join hands and do a quadruple clothesline and make it work. There’s a lot of good energy out of this match for the short time it lasts, thanks in part to the frequent tags. Probably the best spot in the match is Repo Man jumping down repeatedly on the crawling Boss Man’s back. He goes for one more, but when he’s in mid-air, Boss Man rolls over and puts his fist up, hitting Repo square in the balls. The ring fills up soon after and Sags accidentally punches out Knobbs. Amidst the confusion, Virgil makes the cover and gets the pin. A good little break between the only great matches on the card.

Which is my way of saying that Ric Flair defending the WWF Title against “Macho Man” Randy Savage is a great match. The hype leading into it is that Flair has some doctored photos of him with Elizabeth from before she met Savage. He says that when he wins, he’ll broadcast a nude photo of her on the big screen. Well, all right. That spells out that winner.

As an aside, the strangest part of this angle is when Flair says that Elizabeth will return to him and “ride Space Mountain”. Mr. Perfect laughs and asks if he can join in. That’s mighty telling from the Perfect one. I always wondered if he and the Genius had something going on, on the side.

Savage immediately tears into Flair, but when on the outside of the ring, Mr. Perfect blatantly attacks him. Savage gets even more damage when Flair backdrops him out of the ring. Savage always went the full 9 yards when it came to being propelled out of the ring, always achieving some rad hang time on the way down. Flair punishes Savage with various wrestling holds until Savage gets back in the game by throwing Flair off the top rope, except while Savage is standing on the bottom rope. Does that make a difference? I don’t know. Savage savages Flair by busting him open, suplexing him on the outside and hitting a top-rope axe handle. The crowd is clearly pissed that Flair kicks out of this anti-climactic set-up move, but this IS a PPV where Tito Santana just jobbed by losing his balance during a bodyslam. Savage hits the elbow off the top, which should bring the match to a close, but Perfect pulls Savage out of the ring before the three-count.

The cheating continues with Flair hitting Savage with brass knuckles and Perfect sneaking in a jab with a steel chair. Elizabeth runs out – which ultimately does nothing to affect the match. Flair gets the Figure Four on Savage and has Perfect help him get some leverage on it, but Savage is able to reverse it. The damage is done and Savage is limping. He’s able to sneak in a School Boy and pin Flair by grabbing the tights. Flair and Perfect are completely livid that Savage would cheat and beat him down shortly after Flair forces a kiss onto Elizabeth. Of course, showing off those nude pics might be a good way to get revenge, but oh well.

The rest of the PPV is unnecessary. Tatanka vs. “The Model” Rick Martel is pretty boring. To add some flavor to it, they have some local Native Americans come out to dance around the ring for the fans while we get to see Flair and Savage act like maniacs in the backstage area. I think we viewers win that exchange. It’s a short match and nothing notable happens in it. It goes back and forth until Tatanka hits a crossbody and gets the pin. The match is simply there.

Money Incorporated (“The Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiase and Irwin R. Schyster) defend the WWF Tag Titles against the Natural Disasters (Earthquake and Typhoon). It starts out with Earthquake overpowering Dibiase through the crowd-pleasing tests of strength. When it’s Typhoon vs. IRS, Typhoon is able to prevent the tax man from escaping the ring by stomping down on his tie. Shortly after, Typhoon falls out of the ring by rolling over the ropes really badly. Money Inc. spends a moment or two beating on Typhoon and sends him into the steps. It isn’t enough to prevent the dominance, as Typhoon gets a Typhoon Splash on Dibiase. Earthquake is tagged in for the Earthquake Splash to finish the match, but Dibiase gets pulled out and the champs let themselves get counted out. What a bullshit way to end a Wrestlemania match. At least have them get disqualified or something! It’s just as dumb, but it’s somewhat exciting.

”The Rocket” Owen Hart vs. Skinner is an extremely quick match sandwiched between some promos based on the main event. It starts with Owen racing to the ring and getting tobacco spewed right into his face. Monsoon and Heenan are too enamored in Hogan vs. Sid to even notice that this has happened. Skinner hits the Gatorbreaker DDT, but Owen kicks out. Owen rolls Skinner up and pins him, ending the match in just over a minute. So unnecessary.

That leaves our main event of Hulk Hogan vs. Sid Justice. Sid’s manager Harvey Whippleman makes sure that he’s the one who announces Sid to the ring. When Hogan comes out, Sid attacks him during his pre-match celebration and Hogan is able to fight back while his music continues to play. He tosses Sid out and tears his shirt off. The match almost seems unneeded after that exchange, but they have twelve more minutes to waste, so what the hell.

I realize in the lead-up and the match itself that despite everything, Sid is the perfect opponent for Hulk Hogan. He is, when you look at it, Evil Hogan. He’s got the same kind of cartoony, over-the-top charisma, only more deranged. The match, despite its length, has very little back-and-forth to it. Hogan initially dominates until Sid hits a surprise chokeslam. Sid then takes a break to cut a promo in front of a nearby cameraman. He smacks Hogan around for about ten minutes or so until hitting the powerbomb. Hogan kicks out of the pin and does his Hulking out routine. He hits the Big Boot, but Sid staggers. Hogan bodyslams Sid and goes for the legdrop. One, two and—KICKOUT!

Yes, Sid kicks out of the Hogan legdrop. As big a rub as that is, it isn’t in the script. I’ll get to that in a second. Harvey Whippleman gets on the apron, so Hogan pulls him into the ring and punches him. The ref disqualifies Sid for, uh, having his manager get punched by Hogan…? Suddenly, Papa Shango makes his way to the ring and attacks Hogan.

You see, Papa Shango was supposed to come out earlier and break up the pin on Sid so that Hogan would win by disqualification. He happened to have missed his cue, so they improvised. It’s a fairly moot point, since Papa Shango has zero to do with Hogan or Sid. There’s no reason for him to be out there. He and Sid double-team Hogan until the familiar theme music of the Ultimate Warrior blares over the speakers and he comes to save his old friend after seven months of disappearance. Sid hits Warrior with a chair, but Hogan recuperates and sends Sid packing. Hogan and Warrior end the show by posing together.

In the hype of this match and in the ending, it’s implied that this is to be Hogan’s last match. At the very least, it’s his last match until the following Wrestlemania. Sid would leave the company shortly after this match as well. That means that the only thing – the ONLY THING – to come out of this feud and Wrestlemania main event is the angle where Papa Shango makes the Ultimate Warrior bleed black gunk from his forehead and vomit.

Welp! More tomorrow and the ten days following! I hope!

Day One (#25-24)
Day Two (#23-22)
Day Three (#21-20)
Day Four (#19-18)
Day Five (#17-16)
Day Six (#15-14)
Day Seven (#13-12)
Day Eight (#11-10)
Day Nine (#9-8)
Day Ten (#7-6)
Day Eleven (#5-4)
Day Twelve (3-1)

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4 comments to “The Wrestlemania Countdown: Day One”

  1. I kind of miss goofy gimmick wrestlers. I seem to be alone though, since 90% of the time when they try to run someone with one more recently it doesn’t last long…

  2. I look forward to hearing you explain putting these two shows behind Mania 9. That show had NOTHING going for it. What was your highlight: Tatanka’s count-out win over Michaels or Hulk “Where did all my muscles go?” Hogan screwing over both Bret and Yokozuna in 30 seconds because of his gigantic ego?

  3. I’m confused. You mention that Dave Meltzer gave the Hogan match a bad rating, but then refer to Brad Meltzer. Is this a typo?

  4. @BringTheNoise: I’ll get to that one sooner than later.

    @Discount Lad: Yeah, I accidentally typed Brad the first time and then only fixed the first mention by mistake. My bad.