Wrestlemania IX: The World’s Largest Toga Party
April 4, 1993
Las Vegas, Nevada
Ah, the most infamous of all Wrestlemanias. It’s usually the go-to worst Wrestlemania (although I think 15 and 2 will give it a run for its money). It’s an odd show that sits at the cross-section of eras: the youth movement of the New Generation as afoot, but it hadn’t completely taken hold yet. So we get a mishmash of talent from the 80s and 90s, all of it either past its prime or not ready for prime time.
The main event of the evening would be Bret Hart defending the WWF Championship against Yokozuna. Bret took the title off Ric Flair the previous October at a house show on Canadian Thanksgiving and proceeded to defend it against all comers: Flair, Shawn Michaels, Papa Shango, Razor Ramon. Yokozuna stormed onto the scene and destroyed everyone in his path, including winning the Royal Rumble in January to earn his title shot. Nothing else worth covering here, so let’s get going:
Caesar’s Palace was an amazing setting for a Wrestlemania. Absolutely beautiful, and totally unique. They probably went a little far on the Roman theme though. Nobody needed to see Jim Ross in a toga.
Jim Ross, Randy Savage, and Bobby Heenan are our hosts. The fact that Savage was on commentary here instead of in one of the featured matches on the card makes no sense to me.
Intercontinental Championship: Shawn Michaels (c) vs. Tatanka
That’s The Undefeated Native American Tatanka. It was a pretty good match, although a bit long at over eighteen minutes. Shawn bumped all over the ring and Tatanka was able to keep up with him pretty well. Best spot was probably Shawn catching Tatanka with Sweet Chin Music as he came off the top rope. It’s always weird to watch matches from before that was Shawn’s finisher. He didn’t even go for a cover, it was just a cut off. Shawn took the coward’s way and got counted out to keep his title. Nice opener.
Rating: ***. Quality match. Could easily turn out to be the best on the show.
Steiner Brothers vs. The Headshrinkers
I always forget the Steiners were in the WWF. Definitely seems like they were underutilized. Bill Alfonso was the referee here, I never knew he was in the WWF before ECW. One really awesome spot: Rikishi had Rick up on his shoulders and Samu came off the top for a Doomsday Device, but Rick caught him and Powerslammed him. Scott hit the Frankensteiner for the win.
Rating: **½. Pretty good match.
Crush vs. Doink
This was Hawaiian Crush. This match wasn’t particularly interesting. There was a ref bump, at which point a second Doink came down and helped the original Doink get the win. And then the announcers acted like they weren’t sure if it was a real second Doink or if it was an illusion. It’s funny to listen to JR try to sell shit that you know he hated.
Rating: *. Not awful, though that finish was rather dumb.
Bob Backlund vs. Razor Ramon
Backlund was still doing his face schtick that no one gave a shit about. Razor did everything he could to try to get this going, bumping his ass off. It mostly didn’t work, as the crowd just wasn’t into Backlund at all and his style was way out of date. Quick match, Razor won with a cradle.
Rating: ½*. Razor did his best.
World Tag Team Championship: Money Inc. (c) vs. Hulk Hogan and Brutus Beefcake
This was Hogan’s first match since the previous Wrestlemania and I always wondered why they didn’t get something better for him to do. Hogan had a huge blackeye, which was either caused by a jetski accident or getting his ass kicked by Randy Savage, depending on who you believe. This match dragged a bit. Hogan and Beefcake cheated a lot, which would seem surprising but Hogan was always a cheater, even as a face. They did a cluster fuck Dusty finish where it looked like Hogan and Beefcake had won the titles, but then the original ref reversed the decision and called a DQ. Lots of posing followed.
Rating: **½. Didn’t hate that. Fun match, crowd was into it.
Lex Luger vs. Mr. Perfect
Luger was a heel, playing “The Narcissist.” Perfect had turned face by agreeing to partner with Randy Savage against Flair and Razor Ramon at Survivor Series. They mentioned on commentary that Luger had knocked out Bret Hart earlier in the day at a press event. I suppose that was supposed to set up Bret vs. Luger after Wrestlemania, but plans changed. Not even Curt Hennig could get a good match out of Luger, although there was probably a stage in his career where he could have. Luger won with a Backslide with his feet on the ropes for leverage. Would hate it if this came back to bite Lex in the ass later…
Undertaker vs. Giant Gonzalez
Not a ton needs to be said here. Giant Gonzalez was the worst wrestler I’ve ever seen. I’m not even convinced he had ever been trained to wrestle.
Taker was at a stage of his career where he worked a heavily restricted style (watch him, it’s like he’s in slow motion). This match stunk and the finish was awful: Gonzalez got a rag, soaked in it chloroform (Savage called it “chlorofoam,” and Jim Ross very curtly corrected him). Taker went down and was stretched out of the ring. Then he came back and beat up Gonzalez.
Rating: Dud. Awful match, the worst of Taker’s streak. Yes, even worse than the Boss Man Hell in a Cell.
Hogan did an interview next. He had some faint praise for Bret, then challenged the winner of the main event to a match. He said he’d fight either Bret or, “The Jap,” which made me spit my drink out I laughed so hard. At some point I need to write a book explaining why Hogan was actually the heel in all of his feuds.
WWF Championship: Bret Hart (c) vs. Yokozuna
This one was slow and deliberate, but I liked it. They did a good job building the dichotomy between Bret’s quickness and technical prowess and Yoko’s raw power.
Bret eventually locked on the Sharpshooter, but Mr. Fuji threw salt into his eyes. And then Yoko…just pinned him. No move, just pinned him off the salt. Well, okay then. Probably should have had Yoko at least hit a Leg Drop or Splash or something.
Rating: **½. Watchable.
And you know what happens next: Hogan comes down, tends to Bret for a few seconds, Mr. Fuji gets on the mic and challenges Hogan to a match right then…Fuji tries to throw salt in Hogan’s eyes, hits Yoko instead, Hogan drops the leg and wins his fourth WWF Championship.
Well, this was unique. First and only time the WWF Title changed hands twice in one Wrestlemania. The pop for Hogan winning was decent, but nothing special.
Just an utterly bizarre decision. Shit all over Bret, who’s the company’s top workhorse. Put the title back on Hogan, who was stale, on his way out, and wasn’t going to be around for the next few months anyway.
Overall: this show pretty much lived down to its reputation. A few pretty good matches, but also some terrible ones and some truly awful booking. I wouldn’t particularly recommend anything from this show.
Next: A New Generation of stars take center stage at Wrestlemania X.