Thursday, July 10, 2014

WWE Network World Tour: WrestleMania VIII

After the 1992 Royal Rumble, the pieces were set into place for the wrestling nerd dream match of the century. Hell, for a hot second, the WWF looked like they'd even pull it off, too, as they aired a fake "press conference" where fake WWF President Jack Tunney named Hulk Hogan as the #1 contender to Ric Flair's newly-won WWF World Championship. For once, Hogan's incessant need to headline every goddamn show he was ever on was working to my advantage, as i wanted to see Hogan/Flair as much as anyone. WrestleMania VIII was going to be MINT.

Hey, wait.

So....about that. If you venture out into Internetlandia, you can find myriad reasons for why the WWF quickly reshuffled their WrestleMania VIII plans. Hogan and Flair had been wrestling at house shows and the reactions were tepid (not that they were built up as anything more special than "Hogan's fighting this guy this month"). Vince McMahon decided the match was "five years too late" (well, whose fault was that, Mr. Drain-The-Territories-of-all-Their-Talent?). Vince didn't want to push Flair as a champion on Hogan's level (which is a ridiculous assertion, as they built him up as a "real world's champion" with an acknowledged pre-WWF career). Whatever the reason, what we eventually got was a "double main event" of Hulk Hogan vs. Sid Justice (who thought that, as the last man eliminated in the Rumble, he should have been #1 contender, and thus took his frustration out on Mr. I-Headline-Every-'Mania Hogan, which...understandable), and Flair ended up defending his title against Randy "Macho Man" Savage, which was sure to be a better match than Hogan/Flair anyway. I mean, if you're going to pair these four dudes off, let the two real workers put on a clinic while the two muscleheads punch each other for 12 minutes elsewhere on the show. This makes sense. So yes, let's make up an angle where Flair produces doctored photos of himself hanging out with Miss Elizabeth and have him claim that "she was mine before she was yours, Savage!" Because, let's be honest--that's pretty fucking funny. Flair's ladies' man character going full heel, unable to handle the fact that for once his opponent is the one with the stunningly hot lady at his side, and not him! His ego cannot process this, for he is Space Mountain and there is not a female alive that does not want to strap in for the ride! He will refer to said lady as property and exhibit questionable sorta-misogynist behavior, for he is a dastardly heel champion (and knows that Savage has a famously jealous streak when it comes to Liz to boot, so it's a brilliant psychological strategy as well)! Honestly, it's hard to argue with the WWF here; this really probably was the right call. Throw in an Intercontinental title match with Roddy Piper defending against Bret "Hitman" Hart, and we have at least two potentially stupidawesome matches to watch here. So let's get on with it! 

Once again, we get Vinnie Mac growling over the title graphics like he's pinching a deuce during his voiceovers. "It's WRESTLEMANIAAAAAAA!" *plop* But thankfully they get to the point pretty quickly, briefing us on Flair/Savage and Hogan/Justice while pointing out that this may be Hogan's final match. Which is hilarious in retrospect, but at the time was necessary, as the huge early-90s WWF steroid scandal was about to blow up in the media an they needed Hogan to quietly disappear from TV for a while (wait, so what were we saying about all the other reasons why they didn't do Hogan/Flair for the title, and we forgot about this obvious one?). Gorilla Monsoon welcomes us to the Hoosierdome in Indianapolis as Bobby "the Brain" is on commentary with him, which will be fantastic during the Flair/Savage match. In fact, he's already milking the bogus Flair/Elizabeth angle. "I can't wait for the huge centerfolds of Liz that Flair said he was gonna unveil here tonight," he says, craning his head and searching the Hoosierdome roof. "DON'T START!" yells Monsoon. Oh, we're starting off in third gear already, are we? 

Here to sing the national anthem is Reba Mcentire, and boy, is her hair huge. I'm not gonna lie, and i don't know why, but i always thought Reba was pretty hot. You don't have to accept it or understand it, just acknowledge i admitted it and we'll move on. She's kinda butchering the anthem, though--this tune doesn't really lend itself to yodels, you know? The crowd's totally into her white-girl "check out my bird calls" vocal runs, though. Couldn't they have had her sing "America the Beautiful" like pretty much every other vocalist they've ever had kick off a WrestleMania? What the hell, Vince? Eh, she probably insisted on "The Star Spangled Banner" because she's a country girl and 'Murica and Jesus would want it that way or whatever. "Boy, can Tito's sister really belt one out!" exclaims Heenan. "Arriba Mcentire!" WOW! Perfect timing as well, as here comes "El Matador" Tito Santana, who bows to his sister on her way back from the ring. Oy, Tito. Company man to the end. "Hey, Tito, after a decade-plus in the company with no nickname other than 'Chico,' you're getting kinda stale, plus, Jesse Ventura is gone so 'Chico' is played out. Howsabout we throw some bullfighter gear on you? I mean, what else is there in Mexico? Aztecs and cocaine? We can't work with Aztecs and cocaine."

Match 1: "El Matador" Tito Santana vs. Shawn Michaels (w/Sensational Sherri)

You guys, Shawn Michaels' "Sexy Boy" theme music was SO MUCH BETTER with Sherri on lead vocals. All these years of hearing Shawn sing about how he's not your "boy toy" have not made it any less creepy hearing a 40-plus-year-old singing "i think i'm cute/i know i'm sexy." What the actual god damn hell, Shawn Michaels. You couldn't get Jim Johnston to hire a studio ringer to put some female vocals over this turd after you and Sherri broke up? Come on, you narcissistic weirdo. You guys had access to Reba Mcentire! Michaels' jacket, by the way, says "I'm too sexy for this crowd," so there's a nice topical Right Said Fred reference for you. 1992! Meanwhile, Monsoon's busy hating on Sherri's makeup. "Who does her makeup, Hellen Keller?" YOU SHUT YOUR DAMN MOUTH, MONSOON.

After Michaels talks some trash at Santana and pokes him in the chest a few times, we finally get to the action, with Santana shoving back and connecting with a high cross-bodyblock and following up with a headlock that actually looks kinda painful. Michaels forces his way out, and after a few runs between the ropes, Tito catches Michaels with a clothesline that sends him out of the ring and into Sherri's arms to rethink things. Monsoon says that Tito's "all business" in the ring, while Sherri tends to Shawn's hair, which is only business in the front. 

After a headlock pulls Shawn back into the ring, Shawn eventually forces Tito into a corner and starts fighting back with a few punches and elbows. Meanwhile, Sherri is screaming at ringside, yelling "COME ON, TITO!" Wait, what? That's not Sherri. Holy shit, it's some female fan at ringside who's been smoking since 8 AM and screaming at the top of her lungs. Is Luna Vachon in the front row cheering for Tito? That's weird! 

Boy, Tito really is working this headlock. Heenan gives him props for constantly going back to the same hold, which is smart in the context of wrestling psychology, but sort of lame in that headlocks are totally boring-ass. Shawn starts trying to fight out of it and eventually bounces Tito off the ropes, but Santana catches him in a small package for a two-count and goes right back to the side headlock for a two-count of his own. Really trying to make the side headlock an entertaining move here. Michaels bounces Tito off the ropes again, and this time instead of getting caught in a rollup, Shawn tosses Tito over the top rope, to "ooohs" from the crowd. Once he's back in, Michaels scores on a backbreaker and then slaps on a chinlock of his own. When Tito fights out of it, he bounces off the ropes and gets what is not yet called a superkick for his trouble. While Michaels hasn't gotten the idea to make it his finisher quite yet, it still looks like a million bucks. "I guess there'll be no tacos for Tito tonight!" says Heenan. "He's be sucking his dinner through a straw. Only menudo!" Because Tito's Mexican, you see.

Tito fights back though, eventually socking Shawn in the face as he was being lifted for a side back suplex, and eventually the patented flying forearm hits the mark, sending Michaels reeling out of the ring. Now, see, if your finishing move sends people where they can't be immediately pinned, it may be time to pick a new finishing move, is my thought. But hey, you can't teach an old dog new tricks (but you can dress him in a ridiculous matador getup). Tito throws Shawn back in and uses the ropes to whip himself back in, connecting with a flying shoulder tackle. Tito's on fire now, hitting a kneelift and an inverted atomic drop, both of which Michaels sells beautifully. The crowd is fired up! He bounces off the ropes while Michaels is bent over and connects with a forearm to the back of the head, which Monsoon refers to as "El Paso Del Norte," and i have no idea why. Heenan asks if what he really said was "Pace Picante." Michaels smartly and immediately rolls out of the ring and acts completely dazed. Santana grabs him by the hair and pulls Michaels to the apron, picking him up over the top rope for a slam...except Michaels is grabbing the top rope like his life depends on it, eventually forcing Tito to collapse under his weight, at which point Michaels covers him for one...two...three! He catches Tito by surprise and wins clean! Santana is baffled as Shawn waves him out of the ring--"wait, Vince told me Shawn was gonna cheat so i wouldn't lose this Matador getup." Sherri slowly walks over to Shawn, who grabs her by the hair and shoves her down to the mat, striking a pose over her body as she looks up and grins at him. Holy cripes, do they have the rough foreplay chemistry down cold. It's kind of really awesome.

File under "the second thing at WrestleMania that DJ finds inexplicably hot"

Winner: Shawn Michaels via pinfall in 10:38

We go to Mean Gene on the arena floor, who introduces the Legion of Doom for an interview segment. Apparently the LOD were scheduled to face Money, Inc. (Ted DiBiase and Irwin R. Shyster) in a rematch for the tag titles they lost right after the Rumble at a house show, but Hawk got suspended before the PPV, so they just brought them out for an interview. That said, i distinctly remember marking out like a fiend in 1992 when they showed up for this segment, because they had their old manager, Precious Paul Ellering, in tow! Nice! And since this is before the WWF saddled these guys with a fucking ventriloquist dummy, this should still be pretty good. (No, really, the WWF gave "Precious" Paul Ellering, one of the more flat-out badass managers of the 1980s, a ventriloquist dummy.)

Fortunately, this photo is not from WrestleMania VIII, so we just get good ol' fashioned caffeine-fueled, overly-verbose smack talk. Interestingly, Mean Gene refers to Paul as the LOD's "long-time manager," making this the second time in a year that the WWF has acknowledged a pre-WWF history for some of their wrestlers! Kinda hard not to with the Road Warriors, really. "I HAVE RETURNED!" exclaims Ellering, who has never been in a WWF ring before now. "HEED MY WORDS, and mark them well! This is the beginning of the end, for i have come not to get rich, but to get even." He yammers on a whole lot more than that and eventually throws it to Animal, but suffice to say that it's pretty funny/awesome, especially in his booming, overly-dramatic proclamation voice. Point being, they're pissed at Money, Inc. for taking their tag titles, and they've enlisted Precious Paul to help bring 'em back. Hawk throws it back to him. "From the rocking of the cradle, to the rolling of the hearse, all the tag teams out there ask themselves this question: is the going up worth the coming down? Because the LOD is great because we dare to be great, and we've always earned our money the old-fashioned way--we beat people for it!" Paul Ellering, everybody!

We then go to Sean Mooney, who's with Jake "The Snake" Roberts, who is second in line in the Undertaker's WrestleMania undefeated streak. Not that he knows that yet, as he's preoccupied with the fact that Jack Tunney has banned Jake from bringing snakes to ringside. Does he have no concept of marketing? People pay money to see that damn snake! We see a video clip of Roberts attacking the Undertaker on Paul Bearer's "Funeral Parlor" interview set, trapping his hand in a coffin and then cracking him over the back with the ever-reliable steel chair. Huh, so i guess Undertaker was a babyface this soon after beating up on Hulk Hogan for the title last November. Makes sense to me. In 1992, people cheer when Hogan gets punched.

Match 2: Jake "The Snakeless" Roberts vs. The Undertaker (w/Paul Bearer) -- STREAK MATCH #2

Jake slinks into the ring and sits in a corner with a shit-eating grin on his face, but the smile fades when 'Taker's music hits and the crowd explodes (so, yeah, guess he's the good guy). It's so cute seeing Undertaker walk out at a WrestleMania without any fancy lighting or fog machines--just his music. How novel! 

Jake tries to size up the Undertaker, getting in some early punches, but 'Taker no-sells all of them, because he is an undead zombie that does not feel pain, which makes me wonder how he gets a doctor's clearance to compete. Jake eventually socks 'Taker in the kisser and sends him flying over the top rope, but he does that cool 360-degree landing on his feet thing, immediately dragging Jake out of the ring and ramming him into the steel ring post. Heenan immediately proclaims that someone's going to get hurt in this match, and that the Undertaker doesn't feel pain. Well, that narrows it down. Jake catches 'Taker back in the ring with a kneelift and an Irish whip into the corner, but Taker continues to act unfazed, whipping Jake into the opposite corner and choking him for a five count. No, seriously--referee Joey Marella counts to five then yells at 'Taker to release the hold. Dude, when you hit five you're supposed to disqualify the dude! Do your job! (Fun fact--these days, i hear most WWE refs are told to hot hesitate when counting three on a pinfall or five on a potential DQ, and if the wrestlers screw up and get counted out early, it's their own damn fault.) Meanwhile, Heenan and Monsoon are discussing Paul Bearer. "Do you know how he got that urn? The old fashioned way--he urned it!" Nyuk nyuk. 

'Taker chokes Jake again and Heenan counts five on the mic, exclaiming that the ref is too intimidated by the Undertaker to DQ him. Meanwhile, 'Taker lets Jake get back to his feet and nails him with a flying clothesline. But just as 'Taker gets a little overconfident, BAM! Jake comes out of nowhere with the DDT and lays out the dead man as Heenan sings the funeral march--"Dum-dum-da-dum DUM-da-dum-da-dum-da-dum!"But of course, after Jake gloats a bit, 'Taker sits up like a reanimated corpse and stuns the crowd! So Jake promptly hits a second one, then goes after Paul Bearer at ringside, ostensibly to, i dunno, take the urn away from Paul so that 'Taker's mystic power source is disrupted? Eh, let's go with it. 'Taker sits up again and as Jake tries to wrench the urn away from Paul, Undertaker grabs him and hits the tombstone on the arena floor! Or, ya know, that's the idea, but i don't think Jake's head actually hits the floor. Still, he writhes like his neck just got compressed, and it's good enough for Undertaker to roll him back in the ring and score the pinfall. "I have never seen Jake the Snake take that severe a beating!" exclaims Heenan. Yeah, pretty effective way to put over the dead man on your way out of the company, as this was Jake's last match in the WWF for four years.

Winner: The Undertaker via pinfall in 6:36 -- streak at 2-0

We go to Mean Gene in the back and he's got both the Intercontinental Champion "Rowdy" Roddy Piper AND his opponent, Bret "Hitman" Hart, in the same interview! Piper starts off telling Hart how much he admires Bret's family (Piper, "The Rowdy Scot," grew up in Canada, and i guess may be Bret's cousin, too?) and starts to babble about how he's known Bret since he was knee-high to a grasshopper, then starts talking about what a great mom Helen Hart was, potty-training Bret when he was 7, making bologna sandwiches with only one slice, and other vaguely patronizing backhanded reminisces, until he pinches Hitman's cheek and Bret tells him to back off. "All i care about is the Intercontinental Title. I want it back." Piper gets heated and both guys start to shove each other, at which point Gene keeps 'em separated and sends them out to the ring. Hooo boy, this is gonna be a good'un!

Match 3: "Rowdy" Roddy Piper (c) vs. Bret "Hitman" Hart for the WWF Intercontinental Title

So the story here is that the Hitman never got a title rematch against The Fucking Mountie, who beat Hart for the title as he "wrestled with a 104-degree fever" (in reality, Bret's contract was up for renewal and the WWF took the belt off him as a precautionary measure during negotiations) and then promptly lost to Piper at the Royal Rumble. As the pre-match interview suggests, these two men have been playing nice in the leadup, putting a brave face of mutual respect forward, but constantly edging closer and closer to getting royally pissed off at each other as both of them are getting fed up with hearing the other talk about how great they are. You wanna see two outstanding ring vets tell a real, bonafide story in a wrestling match--something that would make Roland Barthes jump out of his seat? This match is a clinic in in-ring storytelling.

The commentators set the stage for this contest immediately, Gorilla explaining that he doesn't think we're going to see "a lot of flying headscissors in this one," and expecting an all-out brawl based on where the interview was heading. Heenan, however, disagrees, explaining that he thinks both men will feel each other out first, trying to see who will lose their temper quickest. "They'll keep it by the rules for a while." Both men stare each other down, saying nothing. "Are they saying anything?" asks Heenan. When Gorilla explains they're just eyeing each other up, Heenan snarks, "two ugly people looking at each other. That's fun." Piper strikes first with an arm drag, after which Hart stays kneeling on the mat for a second to process it. Hmm, usually Bret's the technician, but the champ got him first. He paces the ring, and both men lock up, Bret hitting an arm drag and forcing Piper to the corner to think about it. They lock up again, and Piper grapples Bret to the ground. The wrestle back to their feet, Piper eventually wrapping his arms around Bret from behind. Hart charges toward the ropes and ducks, sending Piper flying out of the ring and onto the floor. He doesn't respond to it well, either--he gets back into the ring and spits on Bret, who calmly wipes it off and paces the ring again, while Heenan crows about the expectorant. "Here we go!" "That was uncalled for," observes Monsoon.

Piper puts his arms in the air, asking Bret for a test of strength. They lock fingers and Piper breaks it into an armwringer that Bret answers in kind. Both men continue to trade arm holds until finally Bret connects with a dropkick that nails Piper right in the face, but when Hart lands, he grabs his shoulder in pain, selling it like he landed awkwardly out of the dropkick. Piper hovers over him as the ref checks him out, but as soon as Piper lets his guard down, Bret rolls him up into a small package for a two-count! He was playing possum with the shoulder, and Piper doesn't appreciate it, thanking Bret immediately with a slap across the face, which pops the crowd. Piper's starting to heel out a little bit, which is not unlike his character at all. Bret responds with a shove, and the action starts to heat up as Bret attempts a cross bodyblock that Piper catches, dumping Hart over the top rope but also spilling himself out of the ring as well. Piper's first on his feet, climbing back to the apron and holding the ring ropes open for Hart, waving him back in. Piper's getting snarkier. Nice.

Bret slowly, hesitantly makes his way back into the ring as Piper holds the ropes, and Piper doesn't go after him, prompting the crowd to applaud the act of sportsmanship. But when Bret bends over to check on his boot, Piper surprises him with a sneaky sucker-shot to the face, which puts Piper on the offensive. Now Piper's doing his classic brawling, punching and slamming Bret's head into the turnbuckle. He hits a bulldog for a two-count, and when we see Bret's face again he's busted open. Nice sneaky blading from Bret, as absolutely no one saw him cut himself. Piper stands Bret in the corner, bites his forehead, and whips him hard into the opposite turnbuckle. He's playing dirty now. He taunts Bret, slapping him in the head and saying "get up," then pulls him up and connects with a wicked kneelift for another near-fall.

Bret stuns Piper with a reversal of a backflip into a sunset flip pin attempt that nets the Hitman a two-count, but Piper immediately punches Bret right in the cut on his forehead, boxing him into the ground for another two. They swap punches and Bret bounces off the ropes, stunning Piper with a forearm that sends him flying out of the ring. The action here isn't fast-paced, but it's deliberate and intense, and the crowd pops when Piper lands on the floor, because in the context of this match, it looks like a highspot. Bret, meanwhile, continues to writhe on the mat, selling exhaustion. When Piper gets back in the ring, they hit each other with a double-clothesline and both men take a breather while the refs starts a ten-count. Piper's up first and as he climbs the ropes, Heenan posits that Hart may be playing possum like he did before. And sure enough, just before Piper launches himself off the top turnbuckle, Bret stands up, runs to the corner, and punches Piper off the turnbuckle, grabbing Piper's head and slamming him to the mat.

Now Bret gets in a flurry of scientific offense, taking a reverse atomic drop and following it up with a gorgeous vertical suplex where he leaves his feet on the descent, floating over Piper to cover him for two. A side Russian legsweep (which Monsoon incorrectly calls a neckbreaker) leads to another two. The blood pours from Bret's face as he hits a backbreaker, then tries to slap on the sharpshooter, which Piper blocks by grabbing Bret's foot. Hitman replies with a stomp, then climbs the top turnbuckle himself, jumping off right into Roddy's extended foot, which connects with Bret's chin HARD and drops him like he's been shot. "This is a hell of a match!" exclaims the Brain as both men swap punches on their knees. Piper eventually gets up first, but Bret gets him in a side headlock, which Hot Rod reverses out of by shoving Bret right into the referee, who slams into the turnbuckle and goes down. Ref bump! Who's going to capitalize?

Piper clotheslines the Hitman out of the ring and Piper gives chase, slamming Bret's face into the steel steps and rolling him back into the ring. Piper smells blood now and goes so far as to grab the timekeeper's bell and walk it into the ring. "Who's the idiot in charge of that bell?" screams Heenan--which is odd, since you'd think he'd be in favor of any blatant rule breaking, but it certainly adds to the drama here. Piper screams at Hart to stand up, and as Gorilla protests, Heenan now says that he likes what Piper's doing here. Bret's still on his knees with his head down, and as Piper winds up, wielding the bell over his head like a sledgehammer, he pauses. The fans are screaming in protest as Piper looks out into the crowd, remembering that he's supposed to be a good guy and isn't supposed to be committing such dastardly deeds (which i almost mis-typed as "bastardly." That too!). He throws away the bell as the crowd cheers and Heenan protests. "What a sickening display!" Piper slaps on the sleeperhold, looking to win the match the right way. Bret turns Piper around and, facing the corner, uses his legs to walk up the turnbuckles, push off, and land on top of Roddy, bending over Piper's head and pinning his shoulders to the mat just in time for the ref to come to and count one...two...three. Bret Hart regains the Intercontinental Title! Yay! He's renewed his contract!

Winner: Bret Hart via pinfall to recapture the IC title in 13:51

Piper sells disbelief and frustration as he realizes that refusing to cheat has cost him the title. Piper grabs the belt from the ref and stands over the Hitman, still lying on the mat and selling exhaustion as Monsoon proclaims that History Has Been Made at the Hoosierdome. "Bret 'The Hitman' Hart as regained the Intercontinental title!" "So what?" says Heenan, hilariously trying to shit all over the outcome just because Piper didn't cheat. Roddy, meanwhile, places the belt on Bret's shoulder and offers him a hand to his feet, fastening the belt around Bret's waist and embracing his victor to the delight of the Indiana faithful.

Is this the most fast-paced technical masterpiece we've ever seen for the Intercontinental title? No--it's certainly no Savage/Steamboat. But in terms of sheer drama, this is outstanding storytelling, utilizing both men's styles to their fullest and selling a slow burn that slowly upped the stakes, playing on Piper's past as one of the most hated heels in wrestling to tease a return to his evil ways before letting his conscience get the better of him, at the cost of his championship. Completely awesome.

As we go back to the broadcast booth, Heenan now tells us he has a huge surprise for us, and holy shit, is this something. The split-screen reveals none other than "The Total Package," Lex Luger, whom Heenan is introducing as the new star of Vince McMahon's World Bodybuilding Federation! Holy shit, it's the WBF! This is going to be terrible! Lex is in a "living room" in Atlanta that's furnished like a Days Inn, which is surely befitting the WBF's newest Huge Star, and as Heenan tells Luger that it's a pleasure to have him on the show, Lex says that "not only is it your pleasure, but it's the pleasure of everyone worldwide watching the show right now." Oh, fucking great, Vince is trying to market a heel bodybuilder. Just come out and tell us you're bisexual, Vince. It's ok. We wrestling fans are more progressive than you think. You don't need to repress yourself and let your latent urges manifest themselves in an entire god damned bodybuilding promotion. Settle yourself, buddy.

Lex puts over Heenan's broadcasting, calling his skills "unparalleled," while saying "i can't say the same for the fat guy next to you." The rest of this is Luger talking up his body and how the WBF had their inaugural event a while back without him, which apparently was ridiculous because you can't have a "best body in the world" contest without inviting Lex Luger. Guh. Apparently comparing Luger's body to the rest of the WBF (he lists some names, but i don't care enough to repeat them) is like comparing apples and oranges, because he's so far above the others. Wait, so is he saying apples are far superior to oranges, or vice versa? He's talking nonsense and i don't care. The top heel in the WBF has the oratory skills of an amateur comedian at open mic night.

Oh dear god, Bobby's asking Lex for a peek at his physique, and just about all the homoerotic subtext of professional wrestling has now officially become text. Luger says, "look, i'm normally pretty modest, but i know everyone's dying for a look at what's under this top." He fucking referred to his shirt as a top, like it's a goddamn blouse or something. Look, i'm an ally to the LGBT cause, 100%, but Lex, are you trying to fall into every stereotype possible?

Oh, wait, i take it back--when Heenan brings up nutrition after Lex gives us a peek at the goods, Luger snaps his fingers and in walks a token hottie with some sweet 80s feathering happening upstairs, presenting a tall glass of milk for the Total Package to quaff on camera, and he looks about as badass as Fred Rogers. Jack LaLanne may have a huge boner right now, Lexy, but we wrestling fans do not give a shit. At all. Oy.

Also, can we discuss those drapes and the artwork he pulled from the local "starving artist" sale at the Fulton County Expo Center?

As Gorilla opines that Lex at least knows more about nutrition than he does broadcast journalism, he throws it backstage to get comments from the combatants in the upcoming eight-man tag, Heenan displaying the utmost professionalism the entire time:

Don't ever stop being you, Bobby

The Fucking Mountie, Repo Man, and the Nasty Boys are all on the locker room set, yelling incoherently and generally being shrill and incomprehensible. I think the Fucking Mountie is yelling "Tell him, champ!" over and over while Brian Knobs is spouting nonsense, which is weird because the Nasty Boys dropped the tag belts back at SummerSlam and their fellow Jimmy Hart stablemates, Money Inc., are the tag champs. Way to not sew dissension in the ranks, Rougeau. Their opponents are...get this: The Big Boss Man (ok), Virgil (ugh), Sgt. Slaughter (now a babyface after filming a vignette the previous autumn after the Gulf War nonsense wrapped up, crying "i want my country back!" like a shallow, transparent poseur patriot, so double ugh and fuck this guy), and "Hacksaw" Jim Fucking Duggan, who promises that "you're gonna see a lot of great wrestling at WrestleMania VIII, but if you wanna see a fight, tune in for the eight-man tag! There won't be any takedowns--it'll just be a fight!" Well, then sign me the hell up, asshole.  

Match 4: The Bog Boss Man, Virgil, Sgt. Slaughter, and "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan vs. The Fucking Mountie, The Repo Man, and The Nasty Boys (Brian Knobs and Jerry Saggs)(w/Jimmy Hart)

Ray Combs is inexplicably the guest ring announcer for this match, and it's sort of scary how much he resembles Tony Schiavone. "Feuds are my specialty," he says, and as he introduces the heels, he reads some pre-fed bullshit about how a survey of 100 people at the Hoosierdome said that The Fucking Mountie does the law enforcement work of three men--Curly, Larry, and Moe. Wait, was having to do this the reason why he hung himself?

The bell rings as the heels chase Combs out of the ring, and all eight men start it off in the ring trading blows. All four babyfaces connect with elbows and clotheslines and the heels spill out of the ring. Repo Man gets thrown back into the ring and fed to the babyfaces as Hacksaw leads a "USA" chant, because of course he does. Meanwhile, Heenan announces that "Shawn Michaels has left the building," which was a fun little running gag that they worked for a little while when they were establishing Michaels as a singles heel. They're bringing it back now in NXT with my favorite new male model, the selfie-obsessed Tyler Breeze, only with him they announce when he has entered the building. Oooh, a wrinkle! 

Meh, should i be concentrating on this match? Because i'd really rather not. This is basically one of those "let's get as many people on the show as possible" filler matches, and the only interesting thing about it so far was Hacksaw getting jumped in the middle of one of his "Hooooooooos," which led Monsoon to say "too many hos for Hacksaw," which conjures a nightmarish mental picture of depraved 70s pornography. 

Where are we? Oh, Repo Man just got punched in the sack by Boss Man, so this is going about as well as you'd expect. Danny Davis is the referee for this match, by the way, which features three members of the same managerial stable of which he was a member not five years ago. Ah, wrestling narrative continuity. Gotta love it. Ooh, all eight men are fighting now--does this mean it'll be ending soon? The Fucking Mountie slams Sgt. Slaughter into a ring post on the floor, and i find myself in the unenviable position of wanting to cheer for The Fucking Mountie. I want to punch this match in the taint. 

Finally, The Nasty Boys hold Virgil in place and try to clock him with a foreign object in plain view of Danny Davis--apparently the Nastys are five years behind on WWF storylines. Virgil ducks, the Nastys get clobbered by their own weapon, and Virgil gets the pin and the win. Who gives a shit.

Winners: Virgil, Big Boss Man, Slaughter, & Duggan via pinfall in 6:33

Sean Mooney is with WWF World Heavyweight Champion Ric Flair and his executive consultant, Mr. Perfect. That's right, we're halfway through the show and it's time for the WWF World Heavyweight Championship match. No, they haven't cut the event short, and no, this is not the last match on the card. How could it be the last match on the card? Hulk Hogan's not in it! Why on Earth would anyone think that the industry's richest prize would be considered more important than The Immortal, Almighty Hulk Hogan? I mean, let's be serious here. And by "serious," i seriously mean pointing out that this is serious fucking bullshit. I mean, let's get this straight--it was decided that Hogan vs. Flair wasn't going to make money, but that was apparently Flair's fault? So it makes more sense to close the night with Hogan taking on a musclebound oaf who knows five moves, can barely talk, and...well, i suppose paying attention to the last seven WrestleManias would have been a clue that Flair/Savage never had a chance to headline, huh? Fuckin' Hogan, seriously.

Anyway. Perfect and Flair are admiring a large poster, the back of which is facing the camera. Sean starts to ask a question, but Hennig curtly (see what i did there?) instructs him to "Shut up, Mooney! This is what it's all about--the photo of your old lady, Savage, and we're gonna put it on the big screen so that everyone knows what she looks like." But wait, we know what she looks like--she has brown hair, a demure smile, and....ooooh

Flair takes over, and he's in classic form. It's WrestleMania VIII, and that means bright lights, big cities, stretch limousines, and ladies lining up to take a shot at the champ and Mr. Perfect, but mostly, it means Randy Savage's chance to defend the honor of his lady, and--oh yeah--try to reclaim the WWF World Title. But when Savage is lying on his back, he should look up at the big screen, because they'll be showing Liz, and "she's all the way live!" What does that even mea--ooooh. "And Liz, for you it means one last shot to ride Space Mountain!" Which Perfect answers with "Can i come along this time champ?" Uh, what?!? "Hey Savage, i'm gonna beat you within an inch of your life, and then Mr. Perfect and i are gonna double-team your wife! Woooooo!" Sean Mooney looks appropriately grossed out as he throws it to Mean Gene, and Flair plans to throw it to Liz. Ew. Well, he is the heel.

Mean Gene is by the dressing room door of the Macho Man. He's not granting interviews. So there.

Match 5: Randy "Macho Man" Savage vs. "The Nature Boy" Ric Flair(c) (w/Mr. Perfect) for the WWF World Heavyweight Championship

Flair comes out first, as befitting a champion? Eh, whatever, the heel comes out first, i suppose. As Howard Finkel announces his name, we get a shot of a foxy blond smirking and lookin' all "mmm-hmm" in approval as Flair struts to ringside in what Heenan claims is a $15,000 robe. "Eat your heart out, toots! Woooooo! You know, if you wanna be fair to Flair, you have to be fair and say that's a heck of a robe--" "WILL YOU STOP?" "--you don't have to yell at me." 

"Pomp & Circumstance" starts up and Savage jogs to the ring and immediately chases Flair out of the ring, standing on Flair's turnbuckle and glaring down at him as the crowd explodes. Savage removes his hat and shades and immediately heads to ringside to chase down Flair, who's leading him back up the aisle and into a sneak attack by Mr. Perfect. "Give me a break!" exclaims Monsoon, as Savage breaks free and stalks Perfect around ringside until the ref, seemingly forced by Monsoon through the microphone to "do your job!," cajoles Savage back into the ring, where he's greeted by a trademark Flair chop to the chest. Flair whips him to the ropes, but Savage ducks and bounds back, greeting Ric's throat with a clothesline that pops the crowd. A knee in the back sends Flair into the corner, and Savage delivers some corner punches, then reverses an inverted atomic drop into another clothesline. Heenan's protesting that Savage is too focused on revenge. "He's gotta concentrate on the title!" he says in full hilarious Peter Brady voice crack. Settle down, Brain--the match is only 90 seconds old! You'll blow your voice out and not be able to call Hogan/Justice later, and then where will the rest of us be? Stuck watching two gorillas swipe at each other while a third yells out bullshit medical terms.

As Savage scores a two-count, then forcing Flair to the ropes by clawing at his face, Heenan sets the table. "He's blinded by jealousy because his old lady's involved! It's only a matter of time before he makes a mistake--he's made several already!" Just as Heenan finishes his thought, Savage grabs the ref by the neck (it's either Dave or Earl Hebner, not that it matters which) and marches him across the ring to keep him from yelling about tying Flair up in the ropes. But when Savage goes back on the attack he's stunned by a backdrop that sends him flying over the top rope and onto the floor! Flair goes on the attack on the floor, hitting loud chops to the chest and shamming Savage's back into the ring apron. Back in the ring, Flair continues the attack with boots to the back as Heenan reminds us that Flair went through 29 other men to win the title. "And this one punk is gonna come in here, because his old lady was with Flair a long, long time ago, in front of this crowd, and take the title from him? Forget it!" Heenan is worked up. 

Now Flair's on the attack, delivering a gorgeous vertical suplex for a two-count ("an 80-year-old would have counted faster than Hebner!") A back suplex nets another two-count. "Come on, Ric--show me the pictures! I wanna see 'em on the big screen!" Heenan sounds really creepy when he says that. Flair continues the assault with hard turnbuckle whips and still more chops. Savage falls back to the outside as Flair joins him, attacking as the ref makes his 10-count. "C'mon, Gorilla--spit that banana out and gimme a Wooooooo!" Heenan is owning this call, which should be a surprise to no one.

After another vertical suplex into a two-count, Flair crumples Savage into the corner, kicking him down until Savage instinctively strikes back with a punch. Flair responds with a chop--another punch, and another, until Savage is suddenly fighting back and delivering a slow neckbreaker on the champ to break up the attack! Both men lie on the mat as Heenan yells "Get up! GET UP! Someone get me something to drink! Get me some water!" Flair bounces off the ropes to take a shot at Savage, but the Macho Man blocks it and connects with a right hand, forcing Flair back into the corner until the Nature Boy thumbs Savage in the eye, giving Ric time to climb the turnbuckle and get caught by Savage, who slams Flair to the mat while standing on the first turnbuckle. The crowd goes nuts as Flair screams in pain and pleads for mercy. Savage with a whip into the corner, a backdrop, and two clotheslines, and Flair is on his knees doing the heel "beg for mercy" routine. Another whip into the corner and Flair does his classic "flip into the turnbuckle and run down the apron to the opposite corner to leap off the top" routine. You know, this thing, except, well, with Savage:

In this case, Flair manages to make it to the other turnbuckle and jump at Savage, who catches Ric with a clothesline, dropping him to the mat like a sack of hammers. Ric's covered by Savage and the audience counts along--one...two...oooh! Heenan sounds like someone's kidnapped his daughter. "Apoplectic" would be a good word. "No, no, no!" A clothesline against the ropes and a 360, and Flair spills out onto the floor. Savage climbs the turnbuckle and connects with a flying axehandle that knocks Flair's head into the which point Flair totally is busted on camera blading himself. His back is to the camera, but you see him drag his hand across his forehead, and suddenly when he gets up, he's busted open. Hmmm, no wonder the WWF fined his ass after this match. Not only was blading outlawed during this time period, but he was totally blatant about it! Meanwhile, when Bret bladed during the IC title match, it was so subtle that everyone thought he was genuinely, inadvertently cut open. Nice one, Ric. Savage follows up by ramming Flair's head into the steps and the ringpost to make sure everyone buys that he busted Flair open, and Heenan is sobbing. "No, no, no! Savage has gotta be stopped! Stop the match right now!" 

Back in the ring, Randy punches Ric in the head some more and connects with another axehandle from the top for a two-count, and Savage's tights have Flair's blood all over them. And frankly, all that blood on Flair's face looks pretty awesome. I mean, if you were a heel that dyed your hair platinum blond and took a beating all the time, wouldn't you blade and get all that red in your hair? It looks fuggin' badass! Savage follows up with a bodyslam, climbs the ropes...and hits the flying elbow! One...two...and Perfect darts into the ring and physically drags Savage off of Flair, all the way onto the floor! Hebner doesn't see it (which is obvious bullshit, i mean, come on), so he leaves the ring to warn Savage to not pursue Hennig as Heenan yells "it's a two count! It's a two count!" Hennig runs into the ring and Hebner gets between them as Savage yanks Hennig's tie, inadvertently sandwiching Hebner into a ref bump that sends him to the mat. With the ref down, Perfect tosses a foreign object to Flair, who drapes it across his knuckles and proceeds to drop Savage with it. He sneaks the object back to Hennig and covers Savage, but only gets two as Heenan continues to ramble. "What is going on?!?" Flair sells disbelief as Savage writhes on the mat, and holy god is Flair gushing blood. 

As Savage writhes near the apron, Flair distracts the ref long enough for Perfect to crack Randy's knee with a steel chair over the loud protests of Gorilla Monsoon. "Come on!" And as Flair goes back on the attack, Elizabeth emerges from the back and starts marching to ringside as the other Hebner brother and Shane McMahon try to stop her! Now shit's gonna get real! Flair works over Savage's leg and slaps on the figure four as Liz shouts encouragement at Savage from ringside while five backstage "officials" are now pleading with her to leave ringside. Meanwhile the ref is counting Savage's shoulders to the mat for repeated two counts as he fights a figure-four that's assisted by leverage from Mr. Perfect. This shit is bedlam! When Flair finally notices Liz at ringside, he's distracted enough for Savage to begin turning the figure four over (see, reversing the figure four by flipping over on the mat "reverses the pressure onto the person delivering the hold," which, ok), although Perfect, with a last gasp, grabs Flair's hand to stop Savage's momentum. This leads to an easy crowd pop when Hebner amusingly kicks their hands apart, breaking up the figure four. Flair goes right back on the attack and gets rolled up into a small package for a two-count, but gets back up and stands Savage in the corner for a chop, giving Liz a bloody wink and yelling "this one's for you, baby! Wooooo!" Heenan hilariously swears that he saw Elizabeth winking at Flair and giving him a "wooooo!"Flair hits a kneebreaker, continuing to hold Savage's leg before delivering a punch that Savage blocks, spinning Flair around, rolling him onto the mat, and grabbing the trunks for a one...two...three! New champion! 

Winner: Randy Savage via trunk-assisted pinfall at 18:04 to win the WWF World Title

Heenan goes completely apeshit--"NO! NO! NO! HE HAD THE TRUNKS! HE HAD THE TRUNKS! WHAT THE HELL'S GOING ON HERE? I gotta get out of here! I gotta get to Ric Flair!" Heenan bails from the booth as Savage hoists the title in victory, selling pain as he balances on one leg. As Perfect argues with the ref, Flair makes his way over to Savage's corner, spinning Elizabeth around to face him. "WHAT ABOUT ME? WHAT ABOUT ME? ME! HUH? ME!" And then he grabs Liz and plants a big ol' smooch on her lips, which sets Liz off, slapping and beating away at Flair until Savage attacks, pummeling Flair until the officials at ringside pull both men apart. Man, what a scene.


Flair's beating on Savage, Perfect's kicking him, officials are trying to force the heels out of the ring, and the fans are chanting "Hogan! Hogan!" God, fuck no, keep him backstage. Let's not ruin this! Finally, the heels are forced to the back as the officials calm Savage down, and Howard Finkel finally announces, "Ladies and gentlemen, the winner of this bount--and ONCE AGAIN, World Wrestling Federation Champion--"Macho Man" Randy Savage!" With his bride by his side, Savage holds the belt in victory as pyro shoots off and the volume on the video suddenly spikes. Gah! Let's go to Sean Mooney, who has the loser's entourage in back.

Perfect and Heenan are screaming about Savage grabbing the trunks (which is, of course, ironic, considering all of Perfect's outside interference), and Heenan yells "i've got it all on tape; there's nothing to worry about." Perfect is hilariously indignant. "Of course there's something to worry about!" They continue to have a full-blown shit fit as Flair composes himself for what of course ends up a monster promo. Dude is still covered in his own blood, and it's rad as fuck.

"What we have right now is a man that'll walk around town tonight claiming to be the real world's champion! He'll be claiming it all! And most of all, he'll be claiming the love of that Jezebel, Elizabeth! Now Savage, unlike some people in the greatest sport of them all, we don't cry over spilled milk! We reassemble the team! The money! The Brains! The nucleus! And we say to our opponent, 'you did it once--now let's see you do it again! One time means nothin' to my career!" 

Perfect takes the ball. "Macho Man, like your old lady, you're damaged goods. This man here has never taken a shortcut in his life! He was out there wrestling!" They then show a slo-mo replay of the pin where Savage's trunk grab is fully obvious. "He's like his old lady-a cheater!"

"Savage--wherever you go--i'm gonna grab Elizabeth and i'm gonna kiss her on those moist, wet lips."

Sean throws it to Mean Gene, and he's got the new champ and his lady love, and Savage is throwing down the verbal gold as well. "OOH YEAH! This was only a piece of what i wanted from Ric Flair! This is what makes you tick"--as he points to his re-won belt--"and i only got a piece of you, Ric Flair. I WANT IT ALL! I want the whole Ric Flair package, yeah! You claim to be the real World Wrestling Federation Champion. Well i guess i am now. And as for what you did to Elizabeth--i didn't think you make me madder than i was before i went into the ring, but YOU DID IT! You did the impossible, yeah! Now i'm gonna get the rest of him. I don't care if it's outside in the parking lot, i'll do anything to win." Gene tries to ask Liz if she feels vindicated, but Savage stops him, handing the belt to his wife. "This is yours. Take it and go." He turns to the camera and holds up his fist. "And this, Flair, is yours!" He tears his shirt off Hulk Hogan-style and screams into the camera. "NEXT TIME YOU GET ALL OF ME! OHHH YEAH!" Holy fuck, so awesome.

Do we seriously have to watch the rest of this pay-per-view? That was pretty much the greatest shit ever, right there. Two of the greatest in-ring performers of all time getting bloody and brutal, then delivering absolute money promos to set up a summer's worth of rematches. I mean, come on. Sure, if i'm going to compare them, which this match was more violent, the Piper/Hart match probably was better in terms of storytelling and emotional heft, but man, was this a slobberknocker, to borrow a phrase from Jim Ross. How fast can i blow through the rest of this show?

Now they're replaying the WrestleMania VIII press conference where Jack Tunney initially names Hulk Hogan as the #1 contender, much to the butthurt consternation of one Sid Justice, and i couldn't care less as Sid glares into the camera and yells about Tunney's huge mistake. Dude, you stood up before Tunney even said anyone's name. Not his fault you made an ass out of yourself by assuming things. We then see a clip of Sid abandoning Hogan during a tag match a week later against Flair and Undertaker, after which Sid shows up on Brutus Beefcake's interview show and threatens to rearrange Beefcake's face unless Hogan shows up (Beefcake had just recovered from his grotesque parasailing accident where a knee collided with his face, shattering it into a million tiny pieces that required expert plastic surgery to repair, so this was actually a pretty scary threat if you were buying into the storyline at the time). Sid then trashes Beefcake's set and gets shaving cream on his face, so it looks like he's screaming for Hogan after...yyyyeah. 

"Bukkake victim"--reeeally not a good look for you, Sid Jusdicks

This is followed up by a collage of Sid mowing down jobbers on the Saturday morning shows, and oh my god who gives a shit? Oh, good gracious, the maniacal Sid must be stopped! Oh, please, mighty and virile Hulk Hogan, please avenge your buddy Beefcake and the legions of scrubs that work the weekend shows that you barely ever appear on, much less wrestle! We swear we will give you the closing match at WrestleMania even if you're not the champ! Just please put the scary curly-haired meanie in his place! Ugh, fuck.

Aaaand we come back to the ring to see a bunch of Native Americans dancing in the ring because it's time for Tatanka, formerly known as Chris Chavis, in 1992 the latest in a long line of Native American wrestlers who were fortunate enough to be born with a gimmick already attached to them. We should all be so lucky! Right? ....Right? Bluh, i honestly have no idea how i should feel about this, so howsabout i just not comment on it? Native Americans dancing. Time for Tatanka. Whatever.

Wait, it's actually time for Sean Mooney to interview Tatanka's opponent, Rick "The Model" Martel, whose model getup is getting more and more elaborate. The mullet's finally gone, but he's wearing some weird ribbon around his neck and a comically oversized button that reads "YES, I AM A MODEL." The look's impressive, but let's be serious here--who's the more convincing "model" here: 

This guy?

Or this guy?

Stop it, Tyler Breeze, you minx.

Anyway, Martel's interview is more of the same old same old, right up until his drops this bon mot: "There may not even be a match tonight--i hear Tatanka's still outside scalping tickets!" Oh, wow.

Match 6: Tatanka vs. "The Model" Rick Martel

Martel walks out to a level of fan indifference that not even post-production crowd sweetening can cover up, while Monsoon welcomes Heenan back to the broadcast booth, ribbing him the entire time. "I didn't think you were coming back! You've lost your meal ticket!" Heenan is barely paying attention to anything happening in the ring (thankfully) and is calmly explaining to Monsoon that everyone saw Savage grab those trunks in order to pick up the pinfall in the title match. Meanwhile, Tatanka comes down to ringside with some sort of remixed slap-bass Indian-sounding Lone Ranger soundtrack shit, and as he prepares to make with the combat in the ring, the Native Americans that were in the ring continue to dance around the ringside area, and oy, is this problematic. I'm trying to avoid all of it, but one of those "Natives" sure looked awfully white. 

Let's concentrate on the commentary shall we? Heenan begins by calmly stating that he and his men are going to regroup and that it's only a matter of time before they take Savage out and take back the title. "Oh, yeah? How many of you will it take?" asks Monsoon incredulously. "Mr. Perfect was in the ring as much as Flair!" "You'll have to take that up with them. I'm a broadcast journalist, and--" "You're a liar!" "--nothing you can say to me right now--" "You're a liar!" "--is gonna make ME GET UPSET! I'M NOT GONNA GET UPSET! PUT 'EM UP!" His voice is cracking and it's amazing. Is there still a match happening? Ugh, fine, let's check in. 

Both men jockey for an advantage in the opening minute or so, until Tatanka manages to toss Martel's shoulder into a ringpost, at which point he goes to work on the Model's arm with a series of arm wringers and eventually Martel throws him over the top rope and out to the floor to gain an advantage and eventually Martel gets him back in the ring and tries to climb the top rope but Tatanka knocks him off the top rope and chops him in the chest and delivers a backdrop and some tomahawk chops because of course he delivers tomahawk chops and then Tatanka fights back with a bodypress off the ropes and gets the pinfall so there you go.

Winner: Tatanka via pinfall in 4:33

You know, these last matches are the experience of watching professional wrestling in a nutshell: sometimes you get thrilling drama, athleticism, and blood, sweat, and tears, and sometimes you get a dude with a red streak in his hair doing a tomahawk chop around the ring as Bobby Heenan says "when you say hello to Tatanka, do you do it properly? It's 'Hey-how-are-ya, hey-how-are-ya.'" How about we go back and rewatch Hart/Piper? No? Eh, fine, you killjoys.

Sean Mooney is with Money, Inc. and their manager, Jimmy Hart, and suddenly things are looking up. They're defending against Hart's former team, the Natural Disasters, and things are suddenly looking grim again. Mean Gene's with Earthquake and Typhoon, and they spend the entire time screaming incoherently, which i suppose is in character, since they're named after gigantic cells of hot air.

Match 7: Money, Inc. ("The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase & Irwin R. Shyster w/Jimmy Hart)(c) vs. The Natural Disasters (Earthquake & Typhoon) for the WWF World Tag Team Championship

Notable here is the WWF return of IRS, whom you might remember as Mike Rotundo, one half of the US Express, the team that drop the tag team titles to Nikolai Volkoff and the Iron Sheik at the very first WrestleMania. That is about the only thing notable here. Ted DiBiase starts off against Earthquake, who no-sells everything Ted throws at him in scintillating fashion. After a few Earthquake clotheslines and a double noggin-knocker on both members of Money, Inc., the champs bail to ringside to regroup. The crowd is completely dead, by the way, seemingly still gassed from the World Title match that should have closed the show. As Monsoon and Heenan continue to bicker, Typhoon pounds away at IRS until he tags out to DiBiase, who gets in some chops before Typhoon takes over again with brute force and the willingness of his opponent to sell, sell, sell. Eventually DiBiase knocks Typhoon over the top rope (or he knocks Typhoon into the top rope, at which point the big guy obviously throws himself out), and IRS tosses him back into the ring (or he sort of guides Typhoon back up the apron, really), and the champs take control. How exciting. 

Seriously, i've been to pet graveyards livelier than the crowd for this match. They couldn't sound sadder if they were mourning a SIDS baby. Eventually DiBiase and Typhoon clothesline each other, but both men make tags as Earthquake makes the clumsiest hot tag in WrestleMania history. DiBiase gets knocked out of the ring as Typhoon splashes IRS into oblivion, and before Earthquake can finish the job and get the pinfall, Jimmy and DiBiase pull IRS out of the ring, and they take their belts and leave. "So hey guys, how do you want to keep the belts on Money, Inc. in this match?" "Well, nothing's really gonna top the other two title matches, so they may as well just get counted out and walk back to the locker room after about eight minutes. Sound good?" "Eh, yeah, fuck it--they're just killing time until Hogan and Justice tear the house down." "You really believe that, don't you?" "Believe what?" "That Hogan and Justice are gonna tear the house down." "If i tell myself that enough times, it may become true. Magical thinking worked for George W. Bush and the WMDs, right?" "That's not for another 11 years, and stop it with this fake internal dialogue. No one's enjoying it."

Winners: The Natural Disasters via countout in 8:38

What do we have left here? Huh, apparently Mean Gene has to talk to Brutus Beefcake. Fucking why? He calls Beefcake "one of the all-time greats" because he feels bad about that whole "getting his face smashed in with some dude's knee while parasailing" thing. Anyway, Beefcake's here to suck Hulk Hogan's dick. He sucks it long, and he sucks it with conviction, really working the tongue. He plays with Hogan's balls, too, saying that he's the #1 Hulkamaniac and regardless of whether this is Hogan's last match or not, he's just here to join the other 70,000 voices in the Hoosierdome and scream his support for Hulk Hogan. Slurp, slurp, burp. Let's go back to ringside.

"Brutus Beefcake said a mouthful there," says Monsoon. I set 'em up, you knock 'em down, Gorilla. 

Match 8: "The Rocket" Owen Hart vs. Skinner

Skinner spits his chaw into Owen's face, which is gross. Owen pins Skinner in a minute and a half, which is about what you'd expect. Owen's ring gear still looks like someone butchered a parrot on a chessboard.

Winner: Owen Hart via pinfall in 1:36

Well, here we go. Mean Gene is in the locker room with Sid and his manager, Harvey Whippleman. I don't have much to say about Harvey Whippleman--his character was basically that of a cranky skinny nerd fuck with a 50-year-old woman smoker's voice and a chip on his shoulder. He let's Sid do the "talking" here, as Sid yells and screams a shit-ton, and he and Gene argue about whether or not this is gonna be Hogan's last match. Gene throws it to a video of a calm, sit-down interview between Vince McMahon and Hogan the week before where Vince asks him if it's his last match. Hogan's all, "gee, i don't know--i have so many awesome movies to star in, like Suburban Commando and Mr. Nanny, and besides, who knows how long this steroid trial could stretch out for? I really won't know if it was my last match until you decide to fuck over Bret Hart next year  i leave the ring on Sunday." Vince responds with "well, if it is your last match, then on behalf of everyone, thank you for the memories, thank you for the matches, and thank you for Hulkamania." Slurp, slurp, sluuuuuuuurp.

Sid ain't havin' it. "You see there, Sid? Hogan never said it was his last--" "SHUT UP! I DON'T CARE! I'M GONNA END HULKAMANIA! I CURSE YOU, HULK HOGAN! I RULE THE WORLD! YELLING! SCREAMING! MORE YELLING! CURSE YOU! AAAAAAAA! AAAAAA"aaaaafuck. Ya know, this pay-per-view really took a turn after Savage/Flair. I can see why they didn't want it to end the show. They could have at least done, like, a voiceover where Mean Gene or Gorilla says "if you were watching this show for scientific wrestling and compelling storylines, you can go play video games and drink Mountain Dew now." 

We get a shot of Gorilla and the Brain as Monsoon addresses the camera and Heenan stares off into space, paying no attention. "A tremendous challenge for the Immortal Hulk Hogan tonight as he squares of with that maniac, the insane Sid Justice. Hulkamania could all end tonight in the Hoosierdome, but highly unlikely in my book, Brain--Hulkamania will live forever." Heenan's jostled back to the present by Gorilla staring at him, and as he tries to collect himself, Monsoon cuts him off. "Let's go down to ringside." "What'd you ask me?"

Match 9: Hulk Hogan vs. Sid Justice (w/Harvey Whippleman)

Howard Finkel is in the ring with Harvey Whippleman, and when he announces Harvey's name, he looks like he just noticed dogshit on his shoe. Harvey grabs the mic from him and begins to announce his man. "That's Doctor Harvey Whippleman, and this is the main event of RassleMania 8." (Yes, he pronounces it "RassleMania.") "Now stand up on your feet and show respect to the greatest man in the World Wrestling Federation. Show respect to the man who rules the world. Show respect to SID JUSTICE!" Out marches Sid, and we get shots of kids giving him a thumbs down and Monsoon explains that Justice said it was "pre-determined" that he would be ending Hogan's career tonight. Wait, dude, spoilers! We know it's rigged, but come on! Heenan points out that he should be referred to as "Psycho Sid," which gives Vince McMahon an idea for when he comes back in 1996.  

"Real American" hits, and here comes The Immortal Hulk Hogan for his final match ever!

OK, read that again while playing this video:

"It's deafening in the Hoosierdome!" Heenan dismisses that with "I can't hear nuthin'," which brilliantly makes Monsoon's point. Hogan climbs into the ring, and Sid immediately starts beating on him as Hogan's music keeps playing. Hogan eventually reverses the beatdown and knocks Sid out of the ring so he can tear his shirt off and play to the crowd. That was really awkward, blasting his music while violence was afoot. Very ECW New Jack, except Hogan wasn't whipping a goddamn sickle over his head and no one in the Hoosierdome probably feared for their safety. Bell rings, and this one's underway. Yay.

Sid calms himself down and stalks back up the ring steps, getting back into the ring and standing chest-to-chest with Hogan, talking smack then bashing his forearms over Hogan's back. Hogan immediately sells pain and gives Sid the advantage as the crowd has come alive for the Hulster, because it's Indiana and of course they are. Justice whips Hogan to the ropes and Hogan comes back with one punch! Two punches! Sid flies out of the ring and Hogan cups his ear to the crowd! Yeah! Soak it up, blondie! Sid walks back up the aisle with Whippleman, then wanders around the ring glaring at random people, stalling for time like he's Larry Zbyszko or some shit. Stall, Sid, stall! Stall, Sid, stall!

Sid slowly makes his way into the ring and asks for a test of strength. Oh, this'll surely be exciting. Two musclebound dudes locking hands and pushing their chests into each other as they scream for mercy. Sid gets the upper hand and drives Hogan to his knees, but Hulk suddenly realizes that people are cheering for him, so he tries to push back up, but Sid keeps him on his knees! This is scintillating stuff, you guys. Hogan finally gets to his feet, but Sid backs him into a corner and breaks the hold by kneeing Hogan in the chest. Sid goes for a whip into the opposite corner, but Hogan reverses it and immediately connects with a clothesline, which is one move i'll always give props to the Hulkster for--he never showboats between a turnbuckle whip and a clothesline. It's always bang-bang one-two and collision, no time for his opponent to dodge the follow-up. It's the one piece of wrestling psychology Hogan knows. He takes a swipe at Whippleman, though, which gives Sid a chance to grab Hogan by the throat and chokeslam him. "I've never seen anyone do that to Hogan!" yells Heenan as the crowd boos. Sid keeps working over Hogan, slowly delivering punches and knees with the plodding efficiency of an elephant attacking a slightly smaller elephant. Heenan's loving it. "He's got Hogan's number. Look at Hogan--he's never looked like this." "He looks like your guy earlier, Brain--he thought he could handle himself too--" "Will you be quiet and just let me enjoy this?"

Sid's got a nervehold on Hogan's trapezius muscle, and i think he's one bearhug away from completely replicating Andre the Giant's offense from WrestleMania III. "Give it up, Hulk! Give it up!" yells Sid, who's only slightly more comprehensible than Andre. Hebner drops the arm once, twice, and on the third drop Hogan finally starts showing signs of life, fighting back while Heenan snarks, "Oh, Hulk Hogan would never give up. Excuuuse me!" Yes, exactly. You and me, Brain--we're like this. Hogan gets caught by Justice, though, who puts him in a side slam--woah, a wrestling hold!--then does the throat-slashing move and plays to the crowd, drawing boos. He hits the power bomb, goes for the pin, and....HULK UP! Hogan kicks out and starts with his Hulking up routine. Jesus, this match is even worse than i remembered. It's like ten minutes of absolutely nothing, then two wrestling moves and a Hulk up from Hogan. I'd say "talk about a Cleveland steamer," but we're in Indianapolis.

One punch! Two punch! Red punch! Yellow punch! Sid's head into turnbuckle! Sid's head into other turnbuckle! The big boot doesn't drop him, so Hogan asks the crowd if they wanna see him slam Sid. Dude, you slammed Andre once--this will be considerably less impressive. Just do it already. Sid hits the mat, Hogan hits the leg, and one...two...KICKOUT BY SID! Hogan gets up and doesn't even sell shock that someone kicked out of his legdrop--he just walks over to Harvey Whippleman, who's made his way into the ring, and presses him over his head, which...draws a DQ, i guess? God, this match is more of a clusterfuck than i remembered.

And you wanna know why? It's because Papa Shango, the evil Voodoo Doctor who later became the pimp Godfather after spending time in the Nation of Islam-inspired Nation of Domination--thus having the distinction of putting three completely different but equally insensitive racial stereotypes on his resume--was supposed to come down to the ring and break up the Hogan legdrop. Instead, he missed his cue and starts coming down to ringside now that the match has been thrown out (ostensibly due to Whippleman's "outside interference," which amounted to him being used as a weapon by the guy who just got the victory, so that makes sense). Why the fuck is Papa Shango attacking Hulk Hogan? This may be his last match, so it's not like you're gonna get a feud out of him! You big dummy!

Oh, maybe it's so there's justification for the Ultimate Warrior's music to hit, bringing back the one guy in the company who's a worse wrestler than any of these other fools. The crowd goes into hyperdrive as the Warrior (who hasn't been seen in months because he left after SummerSlam over a contract dispute) blasts Papa Shango and his dumb skull face paint out of the ring. He shakes the ropes like Cornholio and takes a chair in the back from Sid, but he keeps shaking the ropes. He reeeeally needs that TP, i guess. Hogan grabs the chair from Sid and chases him out of the ring, and now the fans get to cheer their two heroes. Gee, good thing Vince got the Ultimate Warrior back, what with Hogan leaving to lay low during a steroid trial and all. The Ultimate Warrior's all-natural physique will be sure to deflect any suspicious glances toward the company.

Howard Finkel announces "the winner, by result of a disqualification--The Immortal Hulk Hogan!" Monsoon states that the DQ happened because of Papa Shango's interference, because that was the script, but the fucking bell rang a good 20 seconds before Shango even got to the ring. Nice try, Gorilla. Hogan looks like he's won the title, selling relief and happiness on his face as Warrior holds his arm in victory and "Real American" plays, certainly for the last time ever at a WrestleMania, since this is Hogan's last match, right? He's done, right? I never have to deal with watching him during one of these recaps again, RIGHT?

SPOILER ALERT: Tune in next time for WrestleMania IX, a show i fully intend to brutally hatefuck with typed words while blind drunk on angry gin. Get fucked, Hulk Hogan.

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