Wrestlemania VIII Recap


1. El Matador vs. Shawn Michaels with Sherri


Well well well.  If it isn’t our old friend Tito Santana, once again called upon to put someone over at a Wrestlemania.  I’m excited for the match, because I just mentioned in the last Royal Rumble recap that I’d love to see these two wrestle.

This event takes place in the Hoosierdome and they have a very odd setup.  Basically, they have the ring on the floor with the seats surrounding it, but then a huge gap between the floor seats and stands.

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Should we sell an additional 9,400 tickets, or leave huge goddamn gaps in the floor?  Gaps you say?

Because of the setup and the impact on acoustics, I can hear individual comments from the crowd on the DVD.  It’s nuts.  It’s like they’re actually commentating the match, it’s so loud.  There are moments where it’s louder than Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenan.

Aside from the very distracting, idiot crowd, this match is not the fast-paced dynamic wrestling that Tito and Michaels are known for.  It’s mostly headlocks.  The action picks up when Tito hits the sweet, sweet flying forearm…

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Oh Flying Forearm.  I can’t stay mad at you

..but Michaels rolls out of the ring.  Tito goes on a pretty great offensive run, but.. kind of trips when he tries to body slam Michaels, and Michaels gets the pin.

Tito Santana fans, take note: This marks his seventh straight loss at Wrestlemanias.

Overall: A barely better than average match with a Flying Forearm


2. The Undertaker vs. Jake the Snake Roberts


Before this match starts, let’s go see who is in the audience.  Well what do you know, it’s Alia Shawkat, inexplicably time-travelling backwards from the set of Arrested Development

Maeby WM VIII
Her?

It’s interesting to go back and watch early Undertaker matches.  His wrestling has really evolved.  His whole moveset is just chokes.  The entire excitement comes from watching him no-sell every move.

In this case, Undertaker sits up from 2 straight DDTs and it’s electrifying.  He then finishes off Jake with a quick and easy Tombstone.  This match did a great job of selling the Undertaker as an unbeatable monster

Overall: It’s an Undertaker match, so 10/10


3. Intercontinental Championship Match: Rowdy Roddy Piper vs. Bret the Hitman Heart


Great story leading into this one.  As you might recall, Bret Hart won the belt from Mr. Perfect at the 1991 SummerSlam before losing it oto the Mountie at a house show.  Piper was in his corner at the time and took the belt from the Mountie at the 1992 Royal Rumble, three days later.

That set the stage for this match – the Hitman wanted “his” belt back and the feud was on.  What made this unique for the time, is that both wrestlers were babyfaces with the crowed pretty evenly split between the two.

If anyone ever asks what people mean when they refer to Hitman a great “in ring storyteller”, tell them to watch this match.  It has a ton going on.  It’s Piper the streetfighter vs. Hitman the technician.  Both guys are wrestling a really aggressive match, consistent with the story.

In another unusual twist, Hart cuts himself wide open – he barely cuts in his matches

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“anti-lol” – Bret Hart, presumably

The whole match is a complete back and forth.  The ref gets knocked out and Piper runs to the outside and grabs the ring bell with the intention of hitting Hart.  The crowd starts to boo and Piper remembers that’s he’s a “good guy” so he instead slaps on the sleeper.  Hart, showing his ring awareness, kicks off the ropes into a pinning combination.  He wins the belt!

Piper does the standard “gracious in defeat” and awards the belt to the Hitman.

Overall: What a great match.  So far this is a fantastic Wrestlemania


4. Big Boss Man, Virgil, Sgt. Slaughter, Hacksuck Jim Duggan vs. The Nasty Boys, Repo Man  and the Mountie


Since his last appearance in the ’92 Royal Rumble, Virgil has gained a new mask, apparently because his nose was broken

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“Here, wear this stupid, stupid mask to protect your nose” – No doctor, anywhere

So what to expect from this match?  8 wrestlers, none of whom are that technically accomplished, at varying phases in the sunset of their careers.  And Hacksuck.  I am weary with excitement.

There’s not a ton to recap in this one.  The match ends when the one of the Nasty Boys rips off Virgil’s facemask and tries to hit Virgil with it.  He misses, and instead hits his partner with a fist full of soft, cottony bandage.  Obviously, the Nasty Boy is knocked cold and the idiots with Hacksuck with the match.

Overall: I don’t like any of the wrestlers enough to genuinely care.


5.  World Heavyweight Championship Match: Mr. Flair vs. Macho King


This Wrestlemania was billed with a “double main event”.  This match, and the later one between Hogan and Sid Justice.

Originally, the main event was supposed to be Flair vs. Hogan, but Hogan was planning to leave the WWE in 1992 to pursue acting (or whatever) and McMahon didn’t want to put the belt back on him (more on that in the Hogan match later on in this post)

This match has a ton of great heat.  In the weeks leading to the match, Flair taunted Savage by telling him he slept with his wife (!!!).

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Costanza would have the perfect comback for that

Flair goes on an early, and prolonged offense against Savage.  It’s about the first 12 minutes of the match.  Savage eventually fights back to a nice pop from the crowd.  It’s been awhile since Savage has been in the ring and you can tell.  His moves are about a 1/2 beat off and some end up a little clumsy.

Eventually the match goes to the floor and Flair cuts himself.

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Right here

This is two blade jobs in one event, making this the bloodiest Wrestlemania in history.  The ref gets knocked out and Flair hits Savage with brass knuckles, but Savage manages to kick out.  During another distraction (jesus McMahon, hire some decent refs!), Perfect hits Macho in the leg with a chair.

Fed up, Elizabeth runs out from the back and the officials flaccidly try to stop her, primarily with wild gesticulating

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Someone do something!  She’s 105 pounds and very, very pretty!  We are powerless

When she gets to the ring, she essentially does nothing.  Meanwhile, Flair applies the Figure Four on Savage.  Savage barely manages to reverse it and wins with a very abrupt rollover pin.

Overall: Great match


6. Tatanka vs. Rick Martel


This Wrestlemania is the perfect mirror for how thin the WWE’s pool was in 1992.  They had some incredible talent (e.g. Undertaker, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, Ric Flair) and then they had garbage.  This PPV alternates between the two.

The only bright spot of this match is how quick it is.  It’s mostly one-sided offense for Martel who eventually gets pinned by an out-of-nowhere high cross body

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As opposed to a completely expected high cross body, I guess

Overall: Would have been a fine warm up match, but not a latter-half of a PPV match


7. Tag Team Championship Match: The Natural Disasters (Tugboat and Earthquake) vs. Money Inc. (Ted Dibiase and IRS)


Why on earth are the Natural Disasters good guys now?  Wikipedia tells me it has something to do with Jimmy Hart arranging for Money Inc. to get the belt and not them.  Got it.

Have I mentioned before that I hate fat guy matches?  I find their limited arsenal of fat-based power moves very… well, limited.  And they’re usually pretty horrible wrestlers that miss a ton of spots

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Case in point

After a very serviceable match, the Natural Disasters are about to get the pin, but Jimmy Hart pulls IRS out of the ring and Money Inc. leaves the match.  Natural Disasters win by count out, but Money Inc. keeps the belt

Overall: Does this mean we’ll see this match again?  I hope not.


8. Skinner vs. Owen Hart


The apathy in the audience is just palpable.  I guess the crowd needed time to get a beer.  The match is about 58 seconds long, and Owen Hart wins with a rollup pin.

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Note to caption writer: Add a fart joke

Overall: Those last three matches have made for a very underwhelming lead up


9. Not at all a Championship match: Hulk Hogan vs. Sid Justice


This just goes to show you what McMahon thought about Hogan at this point.  Doesn’t matter if he has the belt, he’s the main event.  If this was any other booking, this match would have been the mid-card and Macho / Flair would have been the main event.

I’ll let Buzzfeed describe the lead up:

Ric Flair showed up, newly defected from WCW, and looked to set up a storyline showdown of epic proportions between the Flair as the face of WCW and Hogan as the face of the WWF.  Then Hogan-Flair matches failed to inspire much interest at house (non-televised) shows and WWF management got cold feet about whether the match really worked as a main event.  Around the same time, Hogan decided to retire so he could pursue a career in acting.

For anyone counting (me) this makes 4 tag team partners who have turned on Hogan: Paul Orndorff, Andre the Giant, Macho Man, and now Sid Justice.  Hey gang, maybe Hogan is the worst?

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Look how happy Andre was choking him to death!

This match is nothing spectacular.  It’s a pretty by-the-books Hogan affair that is surprisingly quick, clocking in at just over 10 minutes.  Hogan gets beaten up for awhile and then hulks the fuck out after Sid gives him the power bomb.

The ending is odd as hell.  Sid kicks out of Hulk’s big leg thanks to help from Harvey Whippleman.  Sid is disqualified and then Papa Shango runs out for no goddamn good reason.  To add on to the randomness, the Ultimate Warrior runs out and clears house and saves Hogan.  The rumor is Papa Shango was supposed to interfere earlier, but missed his spot so Sid was forced to kick out of the leg.

Overall: This was a fairly terrible match, featuring people who were all mostly on their way out of the WWE.  Still not the worst Wrestlemania ever through

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Royal Rumble ’92


1. The Orient Express vs. The New Foundation


Lose your more popular tag partner?  No problem!  Just tap his brother on the shoulder and you’re back in business!

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The ridiculous puffy jackets are a “must”

Owen Hart finally starts his run in the WWE under his own name.  He starts off the match with some high flying moves that leave Kato disoriented

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So disoriented he can only stand there and watch while Owen punts gravity in the dick

Well that’s certainly a move you won’t see from Bret Hart!  This match is a lot of fun and it accomplishes what it was meant to – it’s a good introduction to both the New Foundation and Owen Hart.  Most of it is just Owen putting a bunch of moves on the Orient Express.

It goes on much longer than I ever expected.  There’s some great back and forth with the Orient Express going on quite an offensive run.  Owen Hart ends up getting the pin with his finishing move “the rocket launcher” (a splash off the top ropes).

Overall: Great start to the event


2. Intercontinental Championship Match: Rowdy Roddy Piper vs. The Mountie


Right after Bret Hart won the belt from Mr. Perfect at Summerslam he dropped it to the Mountie.  This pissed off Piper (for some reason), hence the title shot.

The crowd obviously goes nuts for Piper and the match begins with him taking control before the Mountie gets his turn.

I don’t have much to recap on this.  It’s a very fast quick that ends abruptly when Piper slaps the Sleeper Hold on the Mountie

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It was this or force him to read “The English Patient”

It’s so jarring when someone actually wins with a clean Sleeper Hold considering how many people (*cough* Hogan) break out of it

Overall: A fine, quick match, and Piper is always entertaining to watch


Interlude: Hogan is in a bathroom


I don’t usually include the backstage stuff of these videos, but this one is special.  It’s an interview between Lord Alfred Hayes and Hogan in his dressing room.

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Just so we’re clear, that’s a piece of paper taped over a door.  Then when he enters the “dressing room”…

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that’s just clearly the men’s washroom.  I’m not clear why this was the best place they could come up with, but it’s fantastic.  Early 90’s wrestling was just an odd mix of hopeless optimism and insanity


3. The Beverly Brothers with The Genius Lanny Poffo vs. The Bushwhackers with some random guy


Yeah, I’m not going to watch this.  I hate the Bushwhackers.

Overall: Beats me


4. Tag Team Title Match: The Legion of Doom vs. The Natural Disasters


I never find these sort of matches too interesting.  While all wrestling generally follows a template, these matches are identical

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What?  My move… didn’t knock down the giant fat guy? But… how?

The big guy is surprised he can’t knock down the giant fat guy and then he eventually knocks down the giant fat guy.

The Legion of Doom kind of plays with the template a little, but this match is pretty by the numbers.  Lots of power moves, followed by lots of rest moves.

The whole thing ends with a count out which is super unsatisfying (the crowd agreed with their immediate boos) and the Legion of Doom keeps the belts

Overall: So so match, nothing fantastic


5. The Royal Rumble


Here we go, the big one.  Rated by many, many, many, many people as one of the top 5 Royal Rumbles, if not the best Royal Rumble ever.  The stakes are much higher than normal as the winner gets the WWE belt

The first 10 minutes: 1. Davey Boy Smith / 2. Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase / 3. Ric Flair / 4. Jerry Sags (Nasty Boy) / 5. Haku / 6. Shawn Michaels 

Dibiase takes it right to Davey Boy at the start of the match, but gets cocky and gets eliminated right away.  That was a bit of a surprise.  And next up at number 3 – Ric Flair.

For context, Ric Flair was fresh to the WWE from the NWA and no one expected McMahon to put him over to the extent he did.  He threw just about everything behind Flair, it was nuts.

As I’m typing, Davey Boy eliminates Sags and goes back at Flair.  Next out is Haku – the dullest man in wrestling – and the crowd welcomes the breather.  He’s eliminated really quickly and next out is Shawn Michaels

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He starts off at a really slow place by kicking Ric Flair in the face

Tito Santana is out next.  I wonder if I’ll get an opportunity to screen cap the sweet, sweet flying forearm before he’s eliminated?

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Yes!

One of the great things about the Royal Rumble is you get to see some match ups that never had a chance to get booked as straight matches.   For example:

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This one!

Tito Santana vs. Shawn Michaels.  I’d watch the shit out of that.

Minutes 10 – 20: 7. Tito Santana / 8. The Barbarian / 9. Texas Tornado / 10. The Repo Man / 11. Greg Valentine 

The next three guys come in with no eliminations.  One of them in the Repo Man, who I learn is Smash from Demolition.  Huh.   Wow, did his star ever drop.  Greg Valentine is next and they’re just stacking the ring with trash at this point.

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Flair, Davey Boy, Michaels, Santana and and just a whole giant mess of garbage

Volkoff is out next and the run of lower-mid card talent continues.  I guess they’re going to stack the later half of this.  Volkoff is eliminated pretty quickly by the Repo Man of all people.

Minutes 20 – 30:  / 12. Nikolai Volkoff / 13. Big Boss Man / 14. Hercules / 15. Rowdy Roddy Piper / 16. Jake the Snake Roberts 

The Boss Man runs in and attacks everyone, while the Repo Man (!!) throws out Valentine.  While he’s not looking, Big Boss Man whips him over the top.  Surprisingly, Flair then eliminates Davey Boy and Texas Tornado one after the other.  As I’m typing this, Shawn Michaels and Tito Santana eliminate each other as Hercules enters.

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Well that sure thinned out the crowd

Hercules and Barbarian eliminate each other and then it’s just Flair and Boss Man.  Flair ducks under a flying tackle from Boss Man and then it’s just him left!

That was actually a pretty good run.

Piper is out at 15, followed by Jake Roberts and Hacksuck.

Huh.  Hacksaw and Piper are indistinguishable from behind
Weird. Hacksaw and Piper are indistinguishable from behind

Minutes 30 – 40:  17. Hacksuck Jim Duggan 18. IRS / 19. Superfly Jimmy Snuka / 20. The Undertaker / 21. Macho Man 

IRS and Superfly come out and who cares really, because at #20 is the Undertaker.  His first move eliminates Superfly.

First Wrestlemania VII, now the Royal Rumble.  Eat a bag of dicks, Superfly
First Wrestlemania VII, now the Royal Rumble. Eat a bag of dicks, Superfly

Savage is out next and he immediately goes after Jake.  After a crazy attack, he throws him over the top ropes and goes right after him.  For some reason the Undertaker follows along and fights Macho on the floor

Minutes 40 – 50:  22. The Beserker / 23. Virgil / 24. Col. Mustafa / 25. Rick Martel / 26. Hulk Hogan

The action spills back inside and the Beserker enters to a resounding yawn.  Piper and Undertaker and Flair have an interesting exchange where they all try to choke each other in some kind of choke-stand off

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This is where Tarantino got the idea for the ending to Reservoir Dogs

Col. Mustafa is next, followed by Rick Martel.  Nothing much happens.  I’m shocked Hacksaw is still in the ring.

Hogan gets 26 and comes in a house of fire.  He manages to eliminate the Undertaker and the Beserker one after the other.  At the same time, Hacksaw and Virgil eliminate themselves.  Mustafa was also eliminated at some point, but it was so quick I missed it

Minutes 50 – end:  27. Skinner / 28. Sgt. Slaughter / 29. Sid Justice / 30. The Warlord

The final four make their appearance we get to business throwing people out quickly so the match can move to the climax.  Piper eliminates IRS and the Warlord gets tossed out by Hogan.  Justice eliminates Slaughter by throwing him at the corner as hard as it is possible to throw another human being

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I have to assume Sgt. Slaughter died immediately after this?

It comes down to Flair, Hogan and Justice.  Just as it seems like Flair is gone, Justice turns on Hogan and tosses him out.  Because Hogan is horrible, he cheats and pulls out Justice from the outside.  Flair wins!!

Interestingly, Flair gets a massive cheer for winning the match.

Hogan and Justice get back into the ring and yell at each other to set the stage for Wrestlemania VIII.

Overall: A great Royal Rumble, and a great performance by Flair.