Saturday, September 6, 2014

WWE Network World Tour: WrestleMania IX

Before we get into this, it's important to note that Bret "The Hitman" Hart became my favorite wrestler sometime around the dissolution of the Hart Foundation and the beginning of his solo career. If i were to pinpoint the exact moment when i became a lifelong Hitman supporter, i'd probably go with the closing seconds of his Intercontinental Title win against "Mr. Perfect" Curt Hennig (who was getting ready to take time off to recover from myriad injuries) at SummerSlam '91. Hennig drops a second leg on a prone Bret Hart, who blocks Perfect's foot and reverses the legdrop into a sharpshooter out of nowhere, getting an instant submission victory. Still one of the best finishes in a match i've ever seen.


During his two IC title runs, Bret continued to have stellar matches with anyone the WWF would put in front of him (including his WMVIII title victory classic over Roddy Piper), eventually dropping the WWF's secondary belt to his brother-in-law, "British Bulldog" Davey Boy Smith, in yet another brilliant performance at SummerSlam '92 in London's Wembley Stadium. I was bummed that Hart had lost in such an obvious manner (the IC title match headlined SummerSlam that year because the home country hero, Davey Boy, was in the match, so duh, yes he was going to win), but what Bret was being groomed for was something beyond what i had even expected him to be pushed toward.

In October 1992, i was visiting an old hometown pal when we were watching WWF Wrestling Challenge, which we joined in progress. Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenan were discussing Ric Flair and the WWF Title, and Heenan sounded perturbed, if not downright angry. It became plainly obvious that they were discussing Flair losing the title (he had only regained it one month earlier immediately after SummerSlam by taking advantage of a beatdown that Razor Ramon had laid upon now-former champ Randy "Macho Man" Savage) at a house show. When i heard Heenan say, "when i get my hands on Bret 'Hitman' Hart..." i embarrassed myself by having what today would be a viral YouTube freakout in my friend's living room. I was ecstatic. My man Bret was World Champ! Unreal!

Things were looking up in the WWF as the calendar turned to 1993. While Flair lost a loser-leaves-town match against his ex-buddy Mr. Perfect and left the company, a scientific ring master was still World champ, and after WrestleMania VIII, Hulk Hogan was scarcely seen on WWF TV. Monday Night RAW had recently premiered on the USA Network, and as Hogan was becoming de-emphasized, the major storyline beats were shifting from the Saturday morning shows to prime time on the USA Network. Eventually, the Hulkster made his way back to television in February to join forces with his hanger-on buddy Brutus Beefcake in a tag team feud against champs Money Inc, but he was no longer in the main events, and as WrestleMania IX approached, that suited me just fine. The Hitman was preparing for a title defense against the first man to ever earn a 'Mania WWF title shot by winning the Royal Rumble, a gargantuan "sumo wrestler" by the name of Yokozuna (actually a Samoan named Rodney AnoaŹ»i, a member of the famed wrestling family that has produced the Wild Samoans, The Samoan Swat Team, Umaga, Roman Reigns, the Usos, and their cousin Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson). Unfortunately for me, i was in my first year of college and at the time had no access to pay-per-view, making WrestleMania IX the first 'Mania that i missed live since number V.

Now, before we begin, it's important to note that as i write this, i have still never seen WrestleMania IX. If you know how it ends, you might understand why hearing the result of the main event caused me to quit watching WWF wrestling for a full year. If you don't know how this show ends, well, sit back and relax as i brutally hate-fuck my way through a steaming shit-pile that nearly everyone considers one of the worst WrestleManias of all time. We're about to witness first-hand proof that while God exists, he's a cruel asshole that loves tormenting hardcore wrestling fans. 

Also, Doink the Clown is in this shitshow somewhere. Strap in, assholes.