Hello everyone and welcome to my new series here on Wrestling With Words; Into The Wrestling Void. In which I will be watching and taking apart piece-by-piece, some of the worst wrestling events in the world. Ranging from hilariously bad to outright dreadful. It’s going to be a hoot and very far from serious, I hope you enjoy it, and please, pray for my sanity. To start us off, in the spirit of WrestleMania season, I’m tackling the infamous WrestleMania IX. An event that took place on April 4th, 1993, only a few days after yours truly was born. No correlation between the two, but it does leave a bad taste in my mouth. That in mind.. here we go.
WrestleMania IX took place at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas and the theme was taken very seriously. The arena was set up like a true Coliseum, guys dressed as centurions The announcers were all in awful togas, including a debuting Jim Ross. Yes, good ol’ JR made his WWF debut sporting some torn up bedsheets and sandals. Howard Finkel’s name for the night was Finkus Maximus. The introduction saw Caesar and Cleopatra themselves, riding in on an elephant led by man-servants, one notable sporting a killer mullet and a grin that said “please strike me down where I stand”. JR’s first ever call in the Fed was him introducing all these colorful characters, spouting off facts about elephants and Cleopatra. You have to imagine that JR was seriously rethinking his career choice as he watched this, but god bless him he tried to sound excited. Up next, Macho Man is introduced being led by an entourage that included an alpaca, being brought out upon a seat carried by even more manservants, surrounded by the purest of ladies dressed in white, feeding him grapes. Macho takes his seat on commentary and says THE GRAPES WERE GREAT AND THE LADIES WERE COOL. We’re not done with this looooong intro to WrestleMania, Bobby Heenan comes out riding backwards on a camel as Macho Man tries to hype it up, it’s WrestleMania and the stakes are high and the chips are on the table. Bobby looks scared to death on this camel that wants nothing to do with him. Bobby gets off and is incensed, Macho Man takes advantage by lifting up his toga to give the camera a good look at his ass and gives the thumbs up. Ten long minutes that I’ll never get back. With the dreadful intro out of the way, it’s time to dive into the heart of the ninth WrestleMania.
Starting At The Top, To Spiral Downward
The opener of the show was the Intercontinental Championship match, Shawn Michaels defending against the undefeated Tatanka. Shawn was accompanied by Luna Vachon, since Sherri had turned on him not long before. Tatanka came out with Sherri behind him, who served to keep Luna from helping Shawn in any way. This could be classified as a ‘good match’, and it wasn’t exactly a spectacle, but definitely a well-worked match. Shawn bumped like a madman for Tatanka and put over his power very well. Tatanka worked the arm for the most of the match and Shawn sold it nicely. At one point, Shawn got Tatanka in the corner and got him into a horrible-looking victory roll attempt that Macho Man drove in with an almost sarcastic call of ‘what a maneuver!’. A great near fall spot where Shawn tried for the victory roll again but Tatanka countered with an electric chair drop, getting a near-perfect 2.9 as Shawn popped the shoulder up. Shawn hit Tatanka will multiple axe handles which Tatanka ‘hulked up’ through and started a fired up comeback sequence, getting Shawn in multiple nearfalls that popped the crowd every time. Shawn got Tatanka on the outside and went for some kind of move but Tantanka moved and Shawn ate the apron. Shawn gets up quick and pulls the ref out of the ring, and gets back in to take a fallaway slam by Tatanka. The ref doesn’t count and instead rings the bell, DQing Shawn and calling it a count-out victory for Tatanka. An immensely FLAT finish here, clearly supposed to serve as a way to protect both guys on paper, but in execution it was a sudden and dull stop to a match that had picked up and gotten the crowd on fire. Disappointment is the name of the game, and we’re only just getting started.
Suplexed to Sleep
Next up, The Steiner Brothers vs. The Headshrinkers. The Steiners get a backstage interview from Mean Gene dressed for the occassion with cheap looking stage pieces behind him. Scott says it may be their first Wrestlemania but it’ll be one to remember, Rick says they’re gonna make Julius Caesar proud. It’s absolutely hilarious that throughout his career, Scott Steiner’s promo style never changed, though slightly more coherent in the earlier days, it’s still the rapid fire yelling into the microphone we love to this day. The Steiners were super over as babyfaces, and got a big pop from the crowd when Scott hit a massive lariat on Fatu. The Steiners took control and Afa knocked Fatu and Samu’s heads together to get them fired up. JR drops a bomb that Sherri was attacked by Luna backstage, to an enthusiastic “Super!” from Heenan. Scott gets flapjack’d into the ropes in what should have been a stun gun but the top rope came down too far and Scott fell to the floor face first in a nasty bump. Afa responds to this by cracking him over the head with a kendo stick. This marks the point in the match where the Headshrinkers worked Scott over for a solid 6 or 7 minutes of this 14 and a half minute match. The crowd nearly fell asleep during it. Macho repeatedly says that the Steiners will rise to the occasion to no avail. Scott finally gets the super hot tag to Rick that finally awoke the crowd. Rick takes them both out but makes the mistake of knocking their heads together which makes them return the favor with a headbutt. An AWESOME spot (though not executed perfectly) where they got Rick up for a Doomsday Device but Rick grabbed Samu off the dive with a belly-to-belly off Fatu’s shoulders. The closing minutes of this dull match was ON FIRE that ended in a lukewarm sloppy Frankensteiner by Scott on Samu to win the match. Do you see the running theme here with shit finishes? It doesn’t end.
A Depressing Funhouse
Sigh. Up next, Evil Doink vs. Crush. Bryan Adams seems to follow me wherever I go in my endeavor to review bad wrestling events. He’s the looming dark cloud of bad wrestling. Doink sprays Crush with water and Crush knocks him around all over the ring, using his patented manuevers of throwing Doink into things. The barricade, the ring post, the turnbuckle. Over and over. Macho yells CRUSH ‘EM CRUSH. Crush hits a neckbreaker that JR calls beautiful but it certainly was not. There are things in this world that are beautiful, a nice blue sky, beaches, forests, but a Bryan Adams neckbreaker doesn’t quite make the list. Commentary puts over Doink as a guy who CAN wrestle and has great skills as he goes to the middle rope and steps off it to drop his fists onto Crush repeatedly. Doink goes off the top for a good ol’ flying nothing, jumping off the top to catch the boot of Crush with his face. Crush takes control again, and signals for his finisher. If you’re not familiar, it’s a vice grip.. because he’s Crush.. so he’ll crush your head. I shouldn’t be grimacing as much as I am because it’s the 90’s and goofy shit like that was the norm but I just cannot deal with it. Doink shakes it and bumps the ref who is KO’d from absolutely nothing. The finish comes when a SECOND DOINK appears holding a foam arm cast and Heenan says is loaded. The second Doink hits Crush with it and Heenan says it’s just an illusion! Crush is knocked out with a second foam arm shot and Doink gets the win. The second Doink disappears under the ring and the refs can’t find him, and it’s put over like an actual illusion.
Razor Ramon vs. Bob Backlund is up next and there’s not much to say about it. Razor was the heel but he was just too cool for anyone to boo so he was massively over. This match was just under 4 minutes and was flatter than flat. Razor used his power to dominate most of it, but Backlund came back using his wrestling style to get Razor in holds. Razor won the match out of nowhere with an inside cradle. I guess it worked to put over Razor but good lord.. having him win with an inside cradle in 4 minute match at Mania? Jeez. Though, to Bob’s credit, he didn’t look in much shape to be taking a Razor’s Edge at this point.
Money Inc. vs. The Mega-Maniacs for the tag titles. A feud that came from Money Inc attacking Brutus and attacking his legitimately injured face that he had surgery on. Ironically, Hulk Hogan came out with a mysterious black eye that they covered up by implying that Money Inc attacked Hulk in the gym. Brutus is wearing the worst red & yellow get-up made up of presumably old rags sewn together, it’s a goddamn disaster of a wrestling attire.
The match itself, you’d be better off taking a 20 minute nap. Yes, this match went on for nearly 20 minutes. The start of it saw IRS and DiBiase jumping them before the bell rang but of course, Hulk and Brutus fought them off. DiBiase even hurt his hand by punching Brutus’ titanium mask. The theme of the match is, Brutus’ face is an impenetrable stronghold and lets him hold through any head attack, and Hulk Hogan is, well, Hulk Hogan. They are an unstoppable force, etc. IRS and DiBiase get sick of it and start to leave. After some confusion, Finkel gets on the mic and says that if Money Inc take the count-out loss, they will also lose the titles. So they get back in and we get some semblance of a match here. It’s as cut and dry as cut and dry comes, Money Inc. use their dirty tactics, IRS distracting the ref while DiBiase chokes out Hogan on the ropes, etc. Hogan gets caught in the Million Dollar Dream for an extended period of time and HULKS UP to get out but can’t break it until Brutus comes in and puts DiBiase in his own sleeper. Brutus gets the official hot tag in, takes Money Inc out.. etc. It’s a formulaic match, and of course the crowd loves it, because they love Hogan brother. Brutus gets his facemask removed at one point and is vulnerable to all attacks. It’s like when you break the final boss’ armor and start beating the hell out of him. We’re 4 for 4 on screwy finishes so far, will we go 5 for 5? You’re damn right we will. The ref gets knocked out but Brutus finally makes the hot tag and Hogan cleans house, even using Brutus’ fallen mask to crack IRS and DiBiase over the head. Hogan and Brutus go for a double pin but the ref is out, Jimmy Hart turns his jacket inside out to reveal a black and white pinstripe shirt, and counts the three. Hogan, Brutus, and the crowd celebrate as Bobby Heenan screams IT DOESN’T COUNT IT DOESN’T COUNT. Another referee comes out and says that Hogan was DQ’d for using the facemask as a weapon, Money Inc. retain via DQ. Jimmy Hart throws out the ref and the Mega Maniacs celebrate anyway. What is there to say about this overbooked mess? Not a thing. Hogan and Brutus celebrate in the ring for a good 10 minutes, I swear to god. Hogan grabs DiBiase’s briefcase and opens it up, finding a brick, tax forms and a bunch of cash. If there’s anything good that came out of Wrestlemania IX, at least it gave us Hulk Hogan thrusting while holding two handfuls of cash. I imagine he’s doing more of the same as we speak.
Thank you God,I am grateful,"I AM THAT I AM". Only love HH pic.twitter.com/Y5R42C4EF7
— Hulk Hogan (@HulkHogan) March 22, 2016
Far From Perfect
Lex Luger vs. Mr. Perfect is next on the card. Luger was running with a short-lived ‘The Narcissist’ gimmick, in which he would pose in front of mirrors before each match. The fed capitalized on Luger’s legitimate motorcycle accident and gimmicked it by having him knock people out with the metal plate in his forearm. They rolled with this for months, and everyone Luger was in the ring with got KO’d by his forearm. Luger came out with girls that held up a bunch of mirrors for him and had sparklers shooting over their heads. This match was far from the worst on the card, but was certainly nothing you can write home about. Perfect’s offense was good and I don’t think I need to say anything about Luger’s in-ring work. It ranges from average to terrible. Another match with no heat except for the sun beaming down on the faces of the crowd. You could see the people on the hardcam doing anything else but paying attention to this match. Half of them are looking at something to the right. The finishing stretch had some decent nearfalls, Perfect hit him with some hard punches and forearms but couldn’t get the three count off any of it. The finish saw Perfect pin Luger off a dropkick, but Luger got his foot on the ropes and the ref saw it, Luger than gets Perfect in an inside cradle but Perfect’s feet fall onto the ropes, the ref somehow doesn’t see THAT though and counts the three. Luger knocks Perfect out with the forearm after. Macho says WHAT YOU’RE LOOKING AT IS ROBBERY, THROW HIM IN JAIL. Guess what? 6 for 6 on screwy finishes. Another theme of this ‘Mania is that the referees are absolute shit at their jobs, I guess. Perfect runs backstage, recovering from being KO’d pretty quickly, and finds Luger but gets cheap shotted by Shawn Michaels who hits him in the head with a trashcan. Macho Man is INCENSED at commentary and wants to beat the hell out of Bobby Heenan for this Narcissist stuff. JR manages to calm them down.
One Giant, Airbrushed Disaster
This is not a match I ever want my eyes to witness. Undertaker vs. Giant Gonzalez. Giant Gonzalez’s infamous attire haunts me at night, a bodysuit airbrushed to holy hell to make him look like a big naked man. With frightening attention to detail, patches of body hair painted on, they even painted a full-fledged nude ass onto this suit. They sprayed on a big ol’ patch of hair on his crotch to cover it. It’s not something that should be viewed in public. Or at all. I hate it. I hate it with every ounce of my soul. The one, and only one, good thing about any of this is Undertaker’s entrance, being carted out with a vulture perched above him. Cool.. until one of the cloaked dudes tried to grab him and the vulture flipped out and tried to bite him, the camera cutting away quickly. Hilarious. Wrestlemania IX is just a hilarious event.
The match is just awful. Plain and simple. Gonzalez’s whole gimmick was raising his hands in the air and going aaarrhhh and delivering the weakest of shots. Gonzalez manhandles Undertaker for the entirety of this thankfully short match. Gonzalez throws Undertaker into the steps and Macho drops a “WrestleMania is gonna get in trouble for noise pollution” line. Macho Man was not the best commentator. The story here is that Gonzalez knocks Taker down, but Taker gets up. Harvey Whippleman throws a cloth into the ring and suffocates Undertaker with it. Commentary says it smells like chloroform. The ref DQ’s Gonzalez. Macho Man says you can KILL a guy with that. Fucking hell. This match.. it’s hard to conjure words to describe this. Undertaker got a few seconds of offense in throughout the 8 minute endeavor, the rest was Gonzalez manhandling him with the lamest array of offense. And the finish.. good god the finish. A fucking chloroform rag used as a finish to a match. A bunch of referees come out to check on Taker and they bring a gurney out to carry him to the back, but Undertaker stomps back down the ramp and takes out Gonzalez to make the crowd happy. It’s all pointless. 7 for 7 on shit finishes.
You know what? If, god forbid, they ever go forward with an Undertaker vs. Braun Strowman match, I think it’d be, spot for spot, the same match, hopefully minus the chloroform. It would be a better match on principle as I don’t think Strowman would be wearing a muscle suit. At least I hope not.
The Unending Abyss of Hulkamania
So we’ve reached the final part of this disaster. Bret Hart defending the WWF title against Yokozuna, and what follows. In a ‘prelude to the apocalypse’ scenario, Hulk Hogan is backstage with Mean Gene, warning Bret Hart of how sneaky Yokozuna and Mr. Fuji can be, and that he and all the Hulkamaniacs are on his side. Hulk says he KNOWS the power of Hulkamania, and as he looked into Bret’s eyes, he questioned the power of Hulkamania. Hulk warns that whether it’s Bret “or the JAP brother” (jesus christ.) that wins tonight, Hulk is claiming the first title shot. Hulk’s blackened eye is absolutely terrifying, by the way. Like his soul was sucked out through his eyeball.
In any case, Bret vs. Yokozuna. Your classic David vs Goliath scenario, and that’s pretty much how it works. Bret works a match against Yokozuna that could be called ‘alright’ for the 8:55 match that it was. Bret gets the huge babyface pops in every ounce of offense he gets in, which includes one spot where he just jumps on Yokozuna’s back from the top rope and nearly falls on his face as Yokozuna topples to the ground. Bret takes down Yokozuna multiple times and at one point rips the turnbuckle pad off trying to escape Yoko’s clutches, and here’s the finish. Bret nails Yoko’s head off the exposed turnbuckle, puts in the Sharpshooter, and Mr. Fuji throws powder in his eyes, Bret sells this like death and Yokozuna pins him for three. 8 for 8. Immediately, the red and yellow shows up jack, Hulk Hogan is out here throwing a fit and checking on Bret and helps him roll out of the ring, presumably so Bret can move the fuck over and make way for the REAL SUPERSTAR BROTHER. Mr. Fuji says Yokozuna is issuing a random challenge to Hulk Hogan RIGHT NOW. Hulk leaves Bret in the corner to suffer and gets in the ring. Mr. Fuji throws the powder again, Hulk ducks it for Yokozuna to take it, drops the big leg, 1 2 3, Hulk Hogan is the champion in 22 seconds. Hulk celebrates until the show goes off air, Bret is never seen or mentioned again during, he was presumably swept away by the clean-up crew. I’m counting this as a perfect record of fucked finishes at 9 for 9, because the whole ending is a clusterfuck.
Did the crowd love it? Of course they did, it was HULKAMANIA brother. The Real American defeating the Japanese forces of evil. 23 years later, it is infamously known as a baffling scenario. Hulk Hogan becoming the hero to save everyone, doing what Bret Hart couldn’t, the real champion once again. It’s so shady. The reasons behind it are just as baffling, but what else do you think it is? The same as always, ol’ Vince McMahon changing his mind. Here’s a great piece of Bret Hart talking about the controversy behind the whole thing. Remember, as much as you may dislike Roman Reigns being shoved in your face, it could always be done worse.
So, that’s WrestleMania IX for you. A night full of nothing above average, finishes that were either screwy or just executed terribly, everyone dressed like dickheads, airbrushed muscle suits, and enough red & yellow to burn out your eyeballs and make you go screaming, straight into the void. I hope you’ve enjoyed this, it’s been a wild ride through it, and I don’t think I’m any better of a person for making said journey. I might be worse, actually. In either case, thank you for reading.