I recently mentioned that I am available to do wrestling reviews on request. IE: you request a show and I’ll watch the motherfucker (within reason). Here’s the first response:
Thanks Nic. First off; I’ve reviewed this show many times. Including in a book;
I even wrote about the show for 411;
But I am a man of my word and if Nic wants me to review this piece of shit then I’m reviewing the fucking thing. WrestleMania 9 is a pretty interesting show to be honest. It had a great set, at Caesar’s Palace, and one of the smallest Mania crowds ever (16,891/15k depending on who you believe). It also featured Jim Ross in a toga, which he was most indignant about. Probably should have researched his boss before signing up to the WWF. This is the carny bullshit they run mate.
Jim Ross: smile on the outside, dead on the inside
1993 was a strange year. Vince thought he’d be in prison so the booking has, shall we say, tailed off a bit from the height of Hulkamania. Hogan is back here after missing a year during the ‘steroid scandal’. He went ahead and lied about taking steroids and the general public were pretty unforgiving about it. As a result, aside from a house show tune up match, he’s not set foot in a ring since last year’s WrestleMania and he had clearly lost a load of muscle mass due to stopping taking the steroids he’d lied about not taking.
In his absence Bret Hart had emerged as the defacto top babyface and all around good guy. He’d filled the void left by Hogan’s departure and the subsequent departure of Ric Flair back to WCW. The WWF are aware he’s a super worker but don’t really know how to market that. As a result Vince is quite happy here to go back to his cash cow and when that failed a copycat replacement in Lex Luger. That didn’t work out so great for him either.
The show is pretty much universally panned.
And rightly so. I’m surprised that number is as high as it is. There a couple of decent undercard matches. Let’s get those out of the way. Ross is hard to listen to here as he tries to make this sound like a legitimate sporting event. It’s a load of carny shit Jim, just fucking take the piss out of it. Bobby Heenan knows what’s up. He rides to the ring backwards on a camel.
WWF Intercontinental Championship
Shawn Michaels © vs. Tatanka
As Rodney Dangerfield said in Natural Born Killers; “kill that fuckin’ injun”. Did you know Bret Hart was also in Natural Born Killers but had his scene deleted? I spend most of this match trying to find the footage, which is a real kick in the pants for Shawn and his long-standing rivalry with Bret. A man who was a better wrestler than him (it’s true), a better promo (in 1997 anyway) and his eyes both point in the same direction. Shawn can take solace in having a better match than Bret at WrestleMania 9 anyway. This is the best match of the night and it’s fantastically boring by modern standards. Shawn plays a chickenshit heel, which is a rarity in WWF, and Tatanka spends most of the match beating him up. They should finish with Shawn superkicking Tatanka out of the air when he comes off the top because it’s the best spot. Then they go to a chinlock for fucking ages. You put this match on in 2021 and I would hate it with a fiery passion. While proceedings are pedestrian they capture the crowd’s imagination and they have some good false finishes. The finish is fucking terrible though. Shawn shoves the ref over, Tatanka hits his finisher and the ref calls it for Tatanka…on a count out. Urgh. The crowd desperately wanted Sherri Martel to get involved here and it didn’t happen. A total creative failure. Tatanka at least kicked on after this and remained in the WWF midcard without winning anything until he got released.
Final Rating: ***¼
Scheme Gene claims “Julius Caesar himself would be happy to be a part of this”. I can guarantee you he wouldn’t. He’d be more into UFC mate.
Headshrinkers vs. Steiner Brothers
Scott Steiner cuts a horrible pre-match promo, which shows you can improve as a promo. JR predicts a “slobberknocker” and he’s not wrong. These are four guys who like to work snug. This is evidenced early doors when Ricky comes in to break up a double team and Samu just punches him between the eyes. Scott looks like he’s out to kill himself and takes a flapjack into the ropes so high that he lands head first on the floor outside the ring. I love Scott Steiner. He’s a guy, or was anyway, that did not give a shit about his own body. After that spot the ‘Shrinkers work heat on him and that’s pretty boring. Tag team formula was still working, given the right participants, in 1993 and but it was barely considered good. I love how there’s no hot tag in this. Rick never tags in. Scott just catches a Frankensteiner out of nowhere and wins it.
Final Rating: ***
And that’s as good as this show gets.
Crush vs. Doink
Babyface dork Crush in bright yellow and orange gear against an evil clown. This is Matt Borne. WWF signed him to be Doink from WCW where he was wrestling as “Big Josh”. “Not only is Crush big but he’s quick” lies Randy Savage. Crush is one of the most plodding, dull workers. He has no personality either. He’s a prime example of a guy who ticks no boxes. A truly great wrestler, let’s say Eddie Guerrero, captures the imagination through acts of athleticism, or gets over based on personality or has an emotional connection to the fans that can’t be written. Crush is tall.
This match at least has a memorable finish where a second Doink appears and knocks Crush out.
Final Rating: ½*
Razor Ramon vs. Bob Backlund
Scott Hall walked into Vince McMahon’s office and did a Scarface impression and Vince thought he was a genius because he’s not seen Scarface. Backlund has long stopped being a McMahon favourite. Vince liked Backlund because he made him a lot of money and was then prepared to do wacky shit when he got older. He’s a nice little enhancement win here for Razor. It’s a weird finish though with Hall catching Backlund with an inside cradle. JR insists he “beat the wrestler with wrestling”. I hate it when they do that.
Final Rating: ½*
WWF Tag Team Championship
Money Inc © vs. Mega Maniacs
This is Hogan’s first match in a year so he’s naturally rusty. He also looks slim and has a black eye. Rumours swirled for years that Randy Savage had punched him the day before but apparently he had an accident on his jet ski, which is damn near the same thing that happened to Brutus Beefcake to put him out of action in 1990 where his face got smashed in a parasailing accident. He’s had two matches in four years. Jim Cornette recently said that Savage actually did punch Hogan in the eye and seeing as he’d have no reason to lie we’ll go with that version as Hogan is full of shit.
The last thing the Beefer needs is a long match after so much time off but naturally this being Vince McMahon and WrestleMania they go 18 minutes. Hogan is in decent form here. He’s the centre of attention, posing and firing the crowd up. After Money Inc get told they can’t lose on count out there is a tremendously boring heat segment on Hogan. Literally every match from this period in wrestling history has a heat segment, whether it generated heat or not. Ted does a solid job but IRS is painfully boring. It doesn’t help that the Beefer is so rusty his timing is shot. Did I mention it’s 18 minutes long? Most of that is heat. The finish sucks. Like with earlier they have a ref bump and a false babyface win that doesn’t count. On this occasion Jimmy Hart flips his jacket inside out and claims to be a ref because the inside is stripey. Fuck off, you little rat. Obviously it’s a DQ and Hogan even uses Beefcake’s mask as a weapon. Dogshit.
Final Rating: *
How is there an hour of this show left?
“The Narcissist” Lex Luger vs. Mr Perfect
So, Vince, genius, debuted Luger as a man obsessed with his own appearance. Presumably because he hired him to be his Arnold Schwarzenegger in the World Bodybuilding Federation. Only for Luger to get injured riding his motorbike and miss the entire thing.
Perfect turned face and ran Ric Flair out of the WWF so he should be on top of the world here but instead he’s left as fodder for Vince’s chosen guy. Given that Perfect had a severe back injury McMahon probably figured he’d milked him for all he was worth. He’s still handily one of the best workers on the show in spite of his injuries. Heel Luger though? No thanks. He was a fantastic babyface, especially in WCW, where he had a tonne of fire but he sucked as a heel. Perfect on the other hand is a phenomenal heel and his bumping in this is great, despite the back problems. Luger even works over the spine here because everyone knows Perfect has a bad back. They have another shitty finish with Luger getting a backslide and Perfect not bothering to kick out because his feet are in the ropes. Luger clocks him with the Steel Plate of Death Forearm to put an exclamation point on it. This was very ok. Perfect didn’t have any bad matches to speak of but Luger’s heel act was bad.
Final Rating: **½
Giant Gonzalez vs. The Undertaker
I feel this picture suitably sums up this match. The bizarre body suit on Gonzalez. The size of the man, towering over Taker. They claim Taker is 6’10” and Gonzalez is 8’ tall. Taker is not 6’ 10” and although Gonzalez is tall he’s not fucking eight feet tall. The match is fine with Gonzalez just dominating because he cannot bump for shit. He can’t sell either and Taker’s comebacks are the worst part of the match. If you’ve got a massive monster he kinda has to win, which would have blown Taker’s WrestleMania streak before it got going. They end this with a DQ so they can draw out the feud to Summerslam where they wrestled a second and final match with Taker getting the definitive win. Gonzalez left the company shortly afterwards. Vince loved him but Gonzalez was bad at wrestling. We’ll go negative stars because of the goddamn selling from the big Argentine but until the Taker comeback the match is actually fine.
Final Rating: -**
Post Match: Gonzalez is left alone in the ring and the crowd chant for Hogan but Taker storms back out and kicks his ass instead. All this stuff was key in establishing Taker as a legitimate top end babyface. Shame about the selling. Actually the post match stuff is the worst.
Bret Hart © vs. Yokozuna
Bret has been champion since unseating Flair back in the legendary house show in Saskatoon in October. This is so long ago that Hart is the 22nd WWF/E Champion. We’re up to #142 at time of writing. As Bret comes out JR calls him “a great family man”. BWAHAHA. Bret’s autobiography is just a list of women he slept with on the road. Unlike Shawn Michaels, who flopped around like a fish in the opener, Bret tries to maintain some semblance of realism here. Which results in huge crowd reactions for everything Yoko lands. The fans believed what was happening to Bret was real because of how he sold it. Realism in selling is key for me if you’re going to be classed as top worker. The best part of this is Bret struggling to get Yoko off his feet and using every trick in the book to get him over all while selling the beating as unsurmountable. It’s only Yoko that slows things up as he needs to take breaks, in an eight minute match, and that Trapezius gets worked over extensively. The crowd chant “USA”. Well, Bret is Canadian, and Yoko was born in San Francisco. No wonder he turned on the States. Bret slaps on the Sharpshooter but Mr Fuji chucks salt in his eyes, albeit very late because he forgets the spot, and Yoko just pins him. Salt lads. Devastating. Terrible finish aside Bret worked his ass off here. It’s not a WrestleMania main event but it was way better than I remember it.
Final Rating: ***
Post Match: Hogan decides to run out here and protect Bret thus scooping his babyface heat. Mr Fuji, brought in to be the voice for Yokozuna despite not speaking English clearly, challenges Hogan to a title match right now. Which makes no sense at all. Hogan hits a few clotheslines and legdrops Yoko for the belt. I’ll give Vince some credit for this. He got a big pop to finish the show. It’s still bollocks though.
If you’re planning on watching this back; watch Shawn/Tatanka, Steiners/Headshrinkers and Bret/Yoko and this show doesn’t seem like a complete disaster. The trouble with WWF around this time is they had a total lack of decent workers. This was improved dramatically by Vince not being able to hire roided up workers and instead focusing on the actual wrestlers (Bret, Shawn etc) and building around those guys. In the years to come WWF actually got really interesting. Basically as soon as Hogan left. I mean, most of the undercards in 1994-97 are complete shit but the promotion was far more interesting to watch than it was in 1990-93 where it was dying a death and filled with roided up monsters who could barely move. Vince eventually realised he was out of touch and that’s when Attitude kicked in and they made a fortune. This was step one from Hulkamania to Attitude. Step one; trying to do Hulkamania again and it failing because of the steroid scandal.