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.

"CEASAR'S PALACE! LAS VEGAS NEVADA! SITE OF WRESTLEMANIA IX!" Vince is growling in his growl, the way he does, and he immediately throws it to the "host" of WrestleMania IX, Gorilla Monsoon. He's in a toga. Because it's Ceasar's Palace. Get it? "Welcome to the world's largest toga
party! It's my first time in a toga; i could get used to this." Oh god, i bet Monsoon's not wearing pants.

At least they had purple shades in ancient Rome

A brief aside, not 100 words into this: i used to live with a dear friend named Andrew. Andrew is a gay man who does not watch wrestling (when i asked why he wasn't interested in large, muscled dudes grabbing each other, his response was "i may as well watch porn and not mess around with a bunch of teases." Respect). Whenever he did see me watch wrestling, he constantly inquired whether or not the majority of wrestling's audience understood how incredibly homoerotic the entire enterprise is. I think this photo of Gorilla Monsoon, pantsless in a toga at Ceasar's Palace, flanked by two slabs of beef that probably wouldn't have been let onto the set of Caligula, should settle it once and for all. We know. It's fine. And we're not all homophobic rednecks that were uncomfortable watching Goldust give Ahmed Johnson CPR, either--at least, that's not why we were uncomfortable. Anyway, i digress (which i will likely need to do several times during this show to hold to the tenuous bonds of my sanity).

In our first silver lining moment, we see that Jim Ross has arrived in the WWF! He's about to call his first WrestleMania, and the Oklahoma native is pretending to be completely psyched to wear a toga and gold sandals while standing next to a pair of centurions that he says look to be "in great shape." JR, that's a chest plate. They're not real abs and pecs. Well, he just started with the company, so i'm sure he feels it's too early in his tenure to piss off the boss with the bitter sarcasm this show already deserves. (In retrospect, after this ended up his first big show, it's a miracle he didn't run screaming back to Ted Turner.)


JR explains that we have two big main events tonight. Uh, what? OK, Bret Hart is defending the World Title against Yokozuna. Good. Why the hell is the Tag Team Title match a co-main event? Oh, right...because Hulk Hogan is teaming with Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake to take on Money Inc, and god forbid Hogan be made to think he's on the undercard somewhere. See, everyone should have had a bad feeling about this card from the outset. 

Now we go to...son of a bitch...Finkus Maximus. 


Howard Finkel Finkus Maxiumus introduces "Julius Ceasar and Cleopatra," a pair of actors carried to ringside on an elephant flanked by...i think it's Man-At-Arms and Fisto. My fiancee Dixie just looked up at the screen and asked "what the fuck is happening?" 

After the actors do a lap and Jim Ross provides banal "historical context" for this nonsense, Finkus introduces color commentator "Macho Man" Randy Savage, who has been wrestling only sporadically and instead serving as color man for the new weekly Monday Night RAW, who is led by a llama and four "vestal virgins" (as explained by JR, who says he has been informed that they are "pure of body and pure of thought"...well, if the only dudes nearby are Man-At-Arms and Fisto, that's probably accurate). Thank god--apparently not even Vince could get the Macho Man in a toga, although he's totally ok with being carried to the ring (looks like He-Man and, oh, let's say Ram Man are helping the other two) while being fed grapes. Well, i can't fault him for that. Who doesn't enjoy grapes?

Bobby "The Brain" Heenan is riding a camel backwards while being led to the ring by an ostrich. The camel gets to ringside and Heenan staggers off, pratfalling to the floor, where Savage eagerly awaits a pantsing opportunity. Guys, we're only five minutes into this. I don't think i can take any more.

I've had it. I've already had it.

Heenan says something about it being an "attack camel," and i'm tapping out. Let's just skip ahead to WrestleMania X. Wait, Shawn Michaels' music is starting and he's coming out with Luna Fucking Vachon. OK, fine, let's try to get through this.

Match 1: Shawn Michaels (w/Luna Vachon)(c) vs. Tatanka (w/Sensational Sherri) for the WWF Intercontinental Title

This is Luna's first-ever WWF appearance, and Heenan is going gaga for her. "That's Luna Vachon! She's related to Mad Dog Vachon! And she's the current Miss Ontario! What a doll!"

This is Luna Vachon, in case you're unaware:

Savage disagrees with Heenan. "I think she's a vestal virgin too, but for a different reason." Well, this is going to be an interesting evening of commentary.

Aaaand here comes legit Native American Tatanka war-dancing his way down the aisle with a tomahawk and his cheesy "tribal" entrance music, so that's fun. More importantly, he's with Sensational Sherri, who's had a falling out with Shawn and has hitched her wagon to the Heartbreak Kid's opponent in order to exact revenge. Oh, Sherri--can we just skip ahead to when you're managing Harlem Heat in WCW? Michaels, by the way, has held the IC strap since October when he snatched it from Davey Boy Smith on an episode of Saturday Night's Main Event, in case the UK fans were curious as to how serious the company was about getting behind Davey Boy as a star. So now that the stage is set, let's watch Shawn take out his ridiculous earrings. Did Shawn name himself "Michaels" in order to pattern his look after Bret Michaels, or did his look evolve into "lead singer of Poison" after he chose that name? Chicken, or egg?

As Tatanka strikes first with a single-leg takedown and a wristlock, JR and Heenan explain that Tatanka has previously pinned Michaels twice--in a non-title singles match, and in a six-man tag. I think also that Tatanka is being pushed as undefeated here, but who knows if that's true. American revisionism, and all that. JR points out that he's trying to be objective, but being from Oklahoma, the home of the "red man," he's partial to Tatanka. Just gonna leave that there as Michaels forces Tatanka to the mat with a wristlock of his own, which the Native American powers out of (i call him that because that's his gimmick, and if you're born a minority, you need no other gimmicks in wrestling--just ask Michael Hayes whether he thinks black dudes need a gimmick).

They're starting pretty slow in this match, with Michaels throwing on a headlock and using his feet to scale the turnbuckle and flip Tatanka over into a takedown on the mat, side headlock staying put. Tatanka forces him to his feet and Shawn tries the turnbuckle climbing stunt again in the opposite corner, but Tatanka reverses it into a back suplex and separates himself from the champ. Not a terrible sequence so far. They pick up the pace here as Michaels takes down Tatanka and climbs the rope, but is caught on his way down with a counter into an armdrag, followed by another Tatanka armdrag and dropkick. That was a sweet counter. Michaels is bumping hard for Tatanka now, flipping over the turnbuckle and crashing to the floor, where Sherri stands over him to keep Luna from tending to her man, which gives JR another chance to remark about how weird Luna is. Because Sherri is the picture of normalcy here. (Well, i suppose when comparing the two...) Michaels tries to get back into the ring by hopping onto the apron, but Tatanka greets him with a chop--er, that is, a tomahawk chop, excuse me--to the head, and he tries two more times with the same result. "Macho Man" Randy Savage on commentary: "Tatanka's doin' the thing, and there he is again--he's all over the ring." Scintillating. Elvira had deeper insights at WrestleMania 2

Michaels eventually gets Tatanka away from the apron with a thumb to the eye, and follows up with a top-rope sunset flip that looks like complete shit, but secures a two-count. After some Irish whip madness, Michaels attempts what i'll assume would have been a Lou Thesz press (affectionately referred to by Mick Foley as "the dick to the face"), but is caught in midair by Tatanka, who delivers an inverted atomic drop, crushing Shawn's testicles and Luna's after-show plans. Tatanka follows up with a DDT and puts Michaels into an armbar as Heenan calls him "Chief Running Chicken" while Savage once again expounds upon Tatanka looking to "get the thing done." Where have you gone, Jesse Ventura? 

As Tatanka keeps the arm bar in place, Michaels sneakily tries to work his hand up to grab Tatanka's hair, but each time he does it, the ref walks over to Tatanka's back and Shawn quickly pulls his hand back, like a kitten sneaking toward a treat and constantly getting busted. Aww. He finally gets some hair and whips Tatanka to the ropes, but hurts his own shoulder with the clothesline he tries to deliver. Well that's novel--a dude selling the damage of his own properly-executed move. Tatanka arm-wrings Michaels to the mat and drops a leg, slapping on another armbar and slowing things down as Sherri cheers him on and Savage keeps spouting nonsense. "If you were me, you would, uh, face the situation, the situation being you, Bobby Heenan, you wouldn't even show up." The fuck?

Tatanka keeps working on the shoulder as JR speculates how well Shawn's rehabilitation from his shoulder injury has gone. BREAKING NEWS: apparently Michaels is trying to recover from a shoulder injury. "You don't know much about sports injuries, Ross, because in Oklahoma the most you've probably ever done is toss horseshoes." At least we know Heenan's an all-purpose insulter when it comes to nationality. "It shows you what a great champion he is to gut it out in the ring." Michaels whips Tatanka into a corner and tries to follow up with a shoulderblock in the gut, but Tatanka dodges and Michaels slams hard into the ringpost, bumping halfway across the ring to sell the pain of the collision. It sounded pretty sick, too. "He may have re-injured the shoulder!" says JR. 

"Man, i love watching this Luna," says Heenan. "She is something." "Yeah, what is she?" Ross retorts. Uh, she's awesome, is what. I mean, come on:

She'd eat most of the current Divas roster alive, and have killer matches with the other half. Can you imagine what a Bayley/Luna feud would have been like? Holy shit. "Is she from Oklahoma?" Savage asks. Heenan's response: "No, she's pretty." Dang.

Tatanka keeps working on the shoulder, grabbing Michaels off the turnbuckle and dropping him onto a knee for a shoulderbreaker that pops the crowd. Man, this is quite a lot of time to give an opening match, but it's not too bad. Hey, we're getting psychology here with the whole shoulder thing, at least. Tatanka follows up with a flying elbow and then climbs to the top rope and connects with a flying tomahawk chop. He climbs for one more but Michaels catches him off the turnbuckle with a crescent kick (still not a superkick yet) that halts Tatanka's momentum just like that. "Close the wagons!" Heenan exclaims. "It's over--sign the treaty." Because Native American, see. Jokes! (Actually, that's some clever racist heel humor by Heenan, because even he knows that white dudes don't honor treaties. Yet he implores Tatanka to sign!) Michaels tosses Tatanka over the top rope and before Luna can get over to him to pile on, Sherri stands between them and screeches at Luna to back off. Man, could they have booked those two for this show? Woulda been better than Crush vs. Doink or whatever the fuck's on deck.

Michaels is in control now, slamming Tatanka's head on the ring apron, then diving off the apron for a flying clothesline. "With an injured shoulder!" Heenan points out, sorta covering up for Michaels forgetting that his shoulder's supposed to be hurt. He kicks Tatanka in the face--"he's an ugly guy anyway"--and Michaels steps away to taunt Sherri from inside the ring, making like he wants to slap her. Oh, man, Shawn, just you try it. "Wouldn't it be something if Sherri beat Shawn Michaels for the Intercontinental Title?" asks Macho Man. I dunno, Macho--ask Chyna in six years. (Yes, it would have been awesome, actually.)

After a close two-count, Michaels picks up Tatanka for a standing dropkick that nets another two-count, and he slows things down with a reverse chinlock, and it's just going on like this, isn't it? Tatanka hulks up and backs Michaels to the corner, but Michaels spins him around and punches him a few times in the face. He then awkwardly climbs onto Tatanka's shoulders and attempts a victory roll-up, but man, flying offense is not Shawn's thing today. JR covers for him by calling it a "modified" victory roll, but in this case "modified" is code for "completely botched." Tatanka politely keeps his shoulders down for a two-count as Luna slaps the apron in frustration. "The gut factor is 100% from both guys!" says Savage. Michaels climbs back onto Tatanka's shoulders in the corner, but Tatanka walks to mid-ring and counters with a fallaway slam that shifts the momentum. Holy Christ, guys, are you going to end this soon? This is slightly above-average ring action, but it sure as hell doesn't warrant twenty minutes. Doesn't Bret need time to work his Yokozuna match? Or can Rodney not go over ten minutes? As both men lie on the mat, Tatanka crawls over Shawn for a two-and-three-quarters count, and soon both men are on their feet as Michaels leaps from the top rope to connect with an axehandle on the gassed Tatanka's back. But Tatanka no-sells it as he slowly begins to rally by subtly winding up his god damn war dance. Oh, good. I love it when the minorities put on a dance routine.

More axehandles from Michaels as Tatanka keeps shaking them off, and the crowd of 16,000 (heh, yeah) is going bonkers. Tatanka points at Michaels like he's Hulk Hogan or some shit, and straight up catches Shawn's boot when he goes for another kick. A loud chop to the chest and Tatanka's off to the races, skipping around the ring and whipping up the crowd. The Indians are going to the World Series! The Redskins are going to the Super Bowl! Tatanka's about to win the Intercontinental Title! Chop to the chest! Tomahawk chop to the head! Irish Native American whip into another chop to the chest! Top rope climb into a flying cross bodyblock for a one...two...KICKOUT! The crowd is eating this up! Michaels goes for a dropkick, but Tatanka blocks him and slingshots him into the ringpost! It looks completely fake and shitty, like any slingshot ever! Tatanka rolls him up with a schoolboy for a one...two...KICKOUT! Heenan's voice is cracking so much, you'd think Flair was about to lose the WWF title! Tatanka hoists Michaels into his shoulders, but Shawn rolls him over for a two-count of his own. Michaels leaps off the top rope for a flying cross body-block, but Tatanka converts it into a powerslam! One...two...KICKOUT! "The ref was slow!" Savage yells. The ref was not slow. Michaels throws Tatanka to the ringside floor and goes out after him as the fans start chanting "Sherri! Sherri!" "The fans are chanting for Sherri!" Macho Man exclaims. "Why?" Heenan retorts. Michaels leaps off the apron at Tatanka, who ducks, sending Shawn face-first into the ring steps! "He took a big chance, and it may have cost him the championship!" calls JR. 

Tatanka rolls into the ring, and just before referee Joey Marella can count to 10, Michaels pulls him out of the ring to break the count! Michaels heads back into the ring as Marella regains his composure, and Shawn runs right into a fallaway slam from Tatanka, who covers him for the pin as Marella taps him on the shoulder and calls for the bell. The crowd boos as Marella admonishes a prone champion and Finkus Maximus announces "the winner of this match, as the result of a countout...TATANKA!" Tatanka is pissed as Michaels keeps the title. Man, what a lame screwjob finish to a not-terrible but too-long opening match. 

Winner: Tatanka via countout in 18:13

The camera lingers on a scowling/smirking Shawn, who drapes his white-strapped IC belt over his shoulder and slowly limps to the dressing room, while Tatanka mimes the tomahawk chop in the ring as his stupid music plays, because that's what you do when you're a Native American wrestler and "noble savage" is the only gimmick creative will let you war dance to. At least he's got Sherri with him, until it stops making narrative sense. So, until tomorrow night's RAW, probably. As Sherri is applauding Tatanka on the apron, i just now notice that the train of her dress is a feather pattern, which, hoo boy. Oh shit, here we go--Luna grabs Sherri and pulls her off the apron, stunning her with a clothesline and body slam! Tatanka breaks it up and Luna hi-tails it to the back. No! Let them fight! Sherri vs. Luna! Impromptu match! It woulda been great! Ah, hell, fine. Be that way. Sherri writhes in pain as Tatanka calls for help and Savage extols her virtues as a lady tougher than 80% of the men. True, but wasn't it just two years ago that she was slapping you silly in the ring after you lost to the Ultimate Warrior, Randy? Ah, it's always nice to see exes work out their issues and maintain civility.

Jim Ross thows it backstage to "Mean" Gene Okerlund, who immediately proclaims that "Julius Ceaser himself would be proud to be a part of this WrestleMania!" Uh, who was at ringside with Cleopatra earlier, genius? Oh, holy hell, get a load of Gene's getup as he brings in the Steiner Brothers, Rick and Scott:

At least it's not a toga

Aw, man, remember when the Steiner Brothers were one of the best tag teams in the world, and Scott wasn't a steroid-ridden mess that couldn't string two sentences together if you connected them with the chain mail on his stupid, bleached-blond head? Here, his speech is still a bit stilted, and Rick is the one with the charisma (which consists of him wearing amateur headgear and barking like a dog, so you understand what we're working with here), but all in all, it's not bad. They have a match with the Headshrinkers, formerly known by the much more respectable moniker of The Samoan Swat Team in World Class and WCW. The SST are relatives of Yokozuna's, as original Wild Samoan Afa was Samu's father and Fatu's uncle. (Fatu is more widely remembered as Rikishi Phatu, he of the backing up of That Ass and the wacky in-ring dance routines with the tag team Too Cool.) Afa, in fact, is accompanying the Headshrinkers to the ring in this match, where they will continue the proud tradition of portraying the Island people as chicken-gnawing savages who can barely be controlled by civilized, English-speaking folk. Somewhere, a young Roman Reigns is watching this pay-per-view and praying that he won't be saddled with this bullshit when he grows up, and his cousins the Usos are thinking "if they just let us speak English, it's all good."

Well, at least they could wrestle like gangbusters.

Match 2: The Steiner Brothers (Rick & Scott) vs. The Headshrinkers (Samu & Fatu w/Afa)

The Steiners come out to, let's say it's the Michigan U. fight song, because i have no fucking idea if that's true. Some dude in the crowd is holding up the sign of the day so far: simple white with stencils that read "New York City loves! The Steiner Brothers! & the 'Under' Taker." Why this dude finds 'Taker's claims of being "under" dubious, i do not know. Dude also looks like a cop. Anyway. Randy Savage says that this match could prove to be even better than the first. Well LET'S FUCKING HOPE SO.

"Back in Oklahoma, a match like this would be called a 'slobberknocker,'" says Jim Ross, and a trademark cliche is born! Heenan counters with, "i thought that's what they called the waitress at the Tip-Top Cafe in downtown Tulsa." The Headshrinkers are doing some sort of Samoan ritual in the corner with Afa, or at least that's what they'd have us think, i suppose. The Steiners, meanwhile, complete the White Person ritual of staring agape at the brown folks wondering what the fuck's going on like a buncha chooches. Both teams are taking for fucking ever to lock up as the announcers hype us up for what's to come. "Any minute now, this match is going to be physically brutal. Yup. Any minute now, once they lock up. A brutal slobberknocker. Annny minute nowwwwww....." By the way, Fatu looks awesome here. Way healthier than his Rikishi days, of course, and with natural wet black hair. Badass. Meanwhile, Scott Steiner is sporting checkered tights and a mullet,

Finally, Scott and Fatu lock up about 3 minutes after the bell, and Scott scores early with a takedown into a one-count. Fatu and Scott trade blows, trying to out-tough each other until Scotty finally nails Fatu with a "Steinerline," which sends Fatu flying upside-down and me flying to YouTube to find a clip of that terrible Steiner theme song, "Steinerlined," from their WCW heyday. OH HEY HERE IT IS:

Oh, excuse was called "Steinerized," not "Steinerlined." Well, you can understand my confusion. I mean, dig these lyrics:

Here's the story of two brothers Rick and Scott
they don't use drugs and they're always on top
but high the time... of there ability
so bow to your knees (the fuck?)
They take on all comers no matter what size
there won't be any question when you get

Stienerized! x4 

All in high school it was easy to see
next stop Michigan University
Excelled in wrestling All American
liked it so much they went back and did it again
They take on all comers no matter what size
there won't be any question when you get

Stienerized! x8

Yeah, you guys never did any drugs, did you, Scotty?

Not pictured: Clean Living

Wait, wasn't there a match going on? What's happening? Looks like the Headshrinkers have Scott in their corner, and when Rick comes storming in to break it up, he gets greeted with a headbutt from Samu and is unceremoniously tossed from the ring. Fatu sends Scotty out to meet his brother, and when the Samoans turn their backs to chat with Afa, the Steiners climb the top rope and surprise them with a pair of flying Steinerlines--and no, i'm not going to get tired of typing that ridiculous word. Rick struts around the ring, barking in a circle, because he is the "Dogfaced Gremlin," a nickname he probably came up with himself.

JR interrupts the call to bring breaking news! "Sensational Sherri has been attacked at the first aid station! Details are sketchy, but..." Heenan: "Luna attacked her?" "It seems like Luna Vachon attacked Sherri at the first aid station." "Super!" Heenan's delivery on "Super!" is amazing--half patronizing dismissal and half genuine glee. "Oh! Well how about that!"

Samu now works over Rick in the corner, raking his entire front, then whipping him into the opposite corner and following up with a clothesline (a Samuline?). Rick answers after another whip with a Steinerline of his own, and the crowd barks along with him as if he's a canine Jim Duggan. Scott ends up in the ring and tries to Irish whip Samu, who reverses it, then grabs Scott on the rebound, walks him backwards while losing his balance, then launches Scott over the top rope and onto the floor as Samu crashes to the mat. It looks NASTY. It seems like Samu was actually trying to guillotine Scott by draping his neck over the top rope, but he lost his balance and basically tossed Scott to the floor. Fatu and Afa follow up with a vicious kendo stick strike to Scott's back and the crowd recoils in horror as this match just kicked up about five notches. DAMN. 

Samu continues to work over Scott in the ring, connecting with a headbutt (and then headbutting his own partner, because they are unruly island savages), then tags in Fatu to continue the attack. Headbutt off the second rope into a two-count that Rick runs into the ring to break up. Man, do the Headshrinkers love headbutts and kicks. Fatu pulls a distraction while Samu slams Scott's shoulder into the ringpost out on the floor, and things are looking gloomy for the mulleted Steiner brother. Maybe he should try steroids. Rick throws him back into the ring and finally Scotty gets an opening as Fatu drops his head for a backdrop. Scott bounds off the ropes, puts on the brakes, and slams Fatu's head into the mat, which he immediately no-sells into a superkick on Scott's god damned face. Scotty drops like a sack of hammers as Fatu bows at his partner. "Their craniums must be bulletproof!" JR exclaims. BECAUSE THEY ARE ISLAND SAVAGES WITH THICK SKULLS AND TINY BRAINS, I GUESS. 

Jesus, is Scott ever gonna hit the hot tag? The Samoans keep working him over, hitting a modified Demolition Decapitation as Scott's draped over one man's leg while the other hits a second-rope elbow, then another falling headbutt, which hurts more than if a white dude did the same thing, but maybe less than if Junkyard Dog dropped one. (I'm not completely versed in the WWF's Ethnic Headbutt Hierarchy.) Oh, finally, a nervehold. What this match needed was a resthold. Finally, Scott fights his way up, elbows himself away from Fatu, and instead of running straight to his corner to tag Rick, bounces off the ropes right into a Fatu clothesline like a dummy. Samu tags in and keeps up the abuse, with stomps, chops, and a nice eye rake for good measure. Finally, Samu attempts a diving headbutt from the top rope, and Scotty moves, sending Samu's head crashing into the mat from eight feet in the air! I guess this is what finally rings Samu's bell, because he sells pain (and probably doesn't have to try very hard, either) and crawls to tag in Fatu while Scott finally gets the hot tag to the Dogfaced Gremlin. Woof woof!

Backdrop! Body slam! Steinerline! Steinerline! The crowd finally comes alive as Rick grabs both Headshrinkers and knocks their heads together...which they no-sell and follow with a double-headbutt to Rick that drops him like Alberto Del Rio got dropped by the WWE (oooh). The Headshrinkers set Rick up for a Doomsday Device (the Road Warriors' finishing move, wherein one guy puts their victim on his shoulders while the other knocks him to the floor with a flying clothesline), but Rick somehow manages to catch the flying Samoan and counter it into a driving powerslam into the mat! It looks clumsy as hell, but it's more realistic that way and still looks fairly brutal. Fatu interrupts the count, though, so no pinfall for the Steiners. Samu throws Rick out of the ring, but Scott tags Rick on his way out to the floor, so Scott becomes the legal man, connecting with a bely-to-belly suplex that fires up the crowd, and as Scotty plays to the audience....BAM! Crescent kick to the face again. Geez, these Steiner Brothers are typical college bros--try as they might, they cannot close the deal (until they start using drugs). 

But wait! Suddenly Scott whips Samu to the ropes, connects with the shittiest-looking Frankensteiner (his version of lucha libre's hurracanrana), and suddenly gets the pin! Steiners win! What the fuck?!? That's it? Are you goddamn shitting me? Scott barely even got his legs around Samu's head--Samu did a flip about a half-second after Scott's feet slipped away from his ears. That looked terrible. And that was the finish? After fourteen minutes? I didn't think we'd see a worse finish than the Shawn Michaels countout that soon, but here it is. Jesus Christ.

Winners: The Steiner Brothers via pinfall in 14:22

Heenan wants a replay, but Savage and JR curtly say no and throw it immediately to Mean Gene, who's backstage with...sigh...Doink the Clown. 

Well, friends, i have a feeling these first two matches were are best chance at something watchable on the PPV, because here's what i'm staring at right now:

I'm sad

Matt Borne was a well-respected tough-guy indy worker previously best known in the WWF for jobbing to Ricky Steamboat at the first WrestleMania. His second chance at the big time came as a result of portraying a psychopathic wrestling clown named Doink. Now, there's a school of thought in wrestling circles that the Doink character was a subversively brilliant dissection of the cartoonish nature of WWF programming throughout the mid to late eighties, as well as a sly commentary on the carnival origins of the business. I just looked at him as a mind-numbingly stupid bullshit cartoon gimmick. Here, we get a flashback to Doink at ringside during a taping of one show or another, offering Crush (now fully into his Hawaiian "Kona Crush" babyface gimmick, where his character was basically "dude with frosted mullet that wears purple and orange and smiles at kids") a flower as a peace offering, then jumping him from behind with a fake arm that he was "disguising" as injured and in a sling. It was all very convincing, what with the malformed, limp fingers attached to the fake hand. Babyfaces are sometimes really gullible. Anyway, Mean Gene tries to explain in between Doink's incessant cackling that Crush is looking for revenge, and Doink foreshadows that before the night is over, Crush may be seeing "double vision." Doink's gonna have Foreigner at ringside? How does that make narrative sense?

Match 3: Doink the Clown vs. Crush

Crush walks to ringside, looking like a walking Starburst bag--some weak-ass bag of alternative flavors, not even the standard chews (although there's probably still some lemon in there. Ew). And yet, somehow he's only the second most annoying character in this match, as Doink comes to ringside to his calliope-into-horror-soundtrack theme music. He squirts Crush in the face with a water-gun flower, and the chase is on at ringside. Welp, here we fucking go.

Crush scores with a bodyslam on the ringside floor and slams Doink into the ringpost as Savage exclaims "Yeah, attaboy Crush! Do the thing!" He keeps saying that. To everyone. "Do the thing." I'm surprised he's insightful enough to both to refer to the wrestlers by their specific names. "Yeah, babyface! Do the thing! Use the move! Win the sports!" Crush continues the offensive in the ring, lifting Doink into the air by his neck with a choke, then throwing him into the corner. After a brief sequence where Doink tries to punch Crush outside the ring to the tune of no-selling by the Hawaiian, Fruit Chew scores with a reverse neckbreaker in the the ring, delivering the first proper wrestling hold in the match. He follows up by draping Doink's neck over the top rope, then leaping over him for a slingshot-type guillotine, to which Doink responds by visibly leaping backward onto the mat in a pretty garbage selling attempt. Did the WWF look at WCW's Ding Dongs tag team and think "shit, we can top that"?

Pretty dead crowd as Doink, after a backbreaker from Crush, finally scores by pulling Crush's neck down over the top rope as the clown drops off the apron. He climbs to the top and basically falls onto the back of the bent-over Hawaiian's head as Savage (surprisingly) astutely says "he fell on 'im!" Doink continues a clumsy attack that consists of climbing the turnbuckles and dropping on Crush's back, eventually upping the stakes with a pretty ugly piledriver that looks like it was about an inch away from snapping Crush's damn fool neck. Gee, i can't imagine why the crowd isn't red hot for this. Crush mimes getting slammed into the ring post, then as Doink climbs the top rope, he lands on his feet and conks into Crush's outstretched foot, sending him flopping to the mat. Man, one of the worst moves in wrestling is the anticipated boot to the face that counters a top-rope attack, specifically when the attacker doesn't even bother to look like they were going to do anything. Oh, you weren't going to do a flying elbow, or a splash, or even a stomp? You were just gonna...awkwardly land on your feet next to your prone opponent, coincidentally right where his foot could connect with your chin should he decided to lift it up? Well, that's not a sound attack plan at all! Are you sure this sport is on the up-and-up?

Doink recovers, though, climbing the topes YET AGAIN only to be caught in mid-air and powerslammed by Crush, who instead of trying for a pin, picks up Doink and tosses him out of the ring. Doink responds by attempting to crawl under the ring. SHENANIGANS ARE AFOOT! Crush catches him, though, and gets him back into the ring for his finisher, which is this stupid-looking thing where Crush basically squeezes his opponent's head between his hands, then picks him up and slams him on his tailbone or some shit. I dunno, it looks fucking stupid. But when Doink breaks it up by getting into the ropes, Crush tries to forcibly yank him away and right into the ref, Joey Marella, who bumps into unconsciousness. Because this sort of high-stakes match needs a ref bump to really ratchet up the drama. 

But i suppose it allows a second Doink (apparently Steve "Skinner" Keirn, according to Wikipedia) to run into the ring while the ref is down, disintegrate another fake arm over Crush's head, and then scoot back under the ring after acting out some mirror image twinsies moves with Doink 1. The Matt Borne Doink shakes the ref awake just enough to count the 3 and mercifully end this garbage. As Doink's music plays, he looks at the camera on the apron and exclaims, "What happened? WHAT HAPPENED? Hahahahahaha!" Meh, whatever.

Winner: Doink the Clown via pinfall in 8:28

But hold! Another ref runs to ringside and explains to Marella that a second Doink interfered and ducked under the ring! Holding his head in pain, Marella looks under the ring, sees no one, and decides that ref #2 has been dabbling in inhalents. I would too, if i were booked to work this show. The best part of this whole segment is the fan in the brown floral print shirt and Blu Blockers trying to get the refs' attention to confirm ref #2's story. "There were! There were two Doinks, ref! We all saw it!" Calm down, you. Go find some more free buffet over by the Blackjack. 

We throw it to some douchebag named Todd Pettengill whose olive leaf headpiece is just glued onto a backwards baseball cap, making him look fourteen. He's waltzing around in a gold robe in the "Uecker seats" (nice) and asks one of the Japanese photographers whether there were two Doinks, or if it was just an illusion. The photographer speaks some Japanese, and Pettengill tries asking him the same question louder, because the reason foreigners can't understand English is because it's not being spoken loudly enough. Fuck this guy. Nice lookin' girl in a plaid top "woooo"ing next to him, though. Hey, speaking of racism, let's go back to ringside to meet up with our favorite white guy acting like a stereotypical Cuban movie gangster thug: Razor Ramon!

Match 4: Razor Ramon vs. Bob Backlund

Razor Ramon, as most folks know, is Scott Hall, a Florida resident who rose to prominence first in the AWA as the cleverly-dubbed "Big" Scott Hall, moving to WCW for a stint as Diamond Dallas Page's "Diamond Studd" (in a totally straight way, i'm sure) before landing in the WWF as Ramon, a fake Cuban "ooozing machismo" (in a totally straight way) and modeled after the movie Scarface. Not too many people have ever examined this gimmick for its questionable racial blackface overtones, relying simply on the fact that it was cartoonishly ridiculous on its face to keep it out of any serious debates. I guess. (Amazingly, when he jumped ship to WCW in 1996 and became billed as "Scott Hall, Beefy White Guy," he didn't drop his absurdly parodic "Cuban" accent.) He's up against all-American goody-two-shoes (and future raving lunatic) Bob Backlund, known to WWF fans at this point (if they know him at all) as the dude who was WWF champ for around six years straight before dropping the strap to The Iron Sheik in December 1983, so Sheik could turn around and hand it off to Hulkamania. Backlund runs to the ring in a stars-and-stripes jacket, no entrance music, and a Howdy Doody smile on his face--all signifiers of the epic beatdown he's about to receive from the WWF's new hot-shit heel (who also needs a convincing win over a former champ to rebound from his defeat at the hands of WWF champ Bret Hart at January's Royal Rumble). If this match isn't about to become a morality play representing Middle America's worst immigration-related fears, i'll swim 90 miles through the ocean.

As the bell rings, Backlund looks for a handshake and gets Ramon's toothpick thrown in his face for the trouble, which tells you about all you need to know about how this match is going to go. Huge chant in the crowd for "Razor! Razor! Razor!" so obviously casting Backlund as a wholesome babyface is paying off. As both men feel each other out (in a totally straight way), Jim Ross mentions that currently on the "WrestleMania Hotline," whatever the hell that is, Raymond Rougeau is interviewing Doink the Clown. "Then how could he be under the ring?" snarks Heenan. 

The announcers--primarily Heenan--put over the fact that Backlund is 43 and has come back to the WWF after taking 8 years off. Ross and Savage admire his condition, saying he must have been working out the whole time, while Heenan retorts "no he wasn't! He was a paperboy in Mayberry." After a few minor leg takedowns by Backlund, Ramon takes over with a series of scoop slams and a stomp that stun Backlund on the mat. It's important to note here that i keep pausing this match to check my Facebook, update photos on my band's Bandcamp site...nearly anything to keep me awake, as this whole thing so far has been Razor delivering a couple body slams, and kicks and punches. Shades of the technical showcase that was WrestleMania 1! Even Savage is bored, as he starts discussing Bret Hart getting KO'd by "The Narcissist" (hoo boy) Lex Luger at that morning's WrestleMania brunch. OK, so i'm not the only one ignoring this shit? Cool. That said--Jesus, we're already making excuses for Hart this early into the show? Christ, people should have seen the writing on the wall a mile out.

Oh, wait! Backlund's fighting back! A shitty hiptoss! A missed dropkick that Razor sells anyway (as the announcers exclaim "he missed!")! A double-underhook suplex that looks ok! "Nicely done by Bobby Backlund," says JR. A pregnant pause before Heenan, completely bored, says, "...yyup." Shitty atomic drop! No, JR, it was NOT "tremendous." It sends Razor out to the apron though, and when Backlund slingshots him back into the ring, Razor responds with a quick rollup for a three-count. I didn't think a match tonight could be more anticlimactic than the opening countout or Scott Steiner's random botched-Frankensteiner pin, but here it is. Catching Backlund like surprise...just like illegal immigration is catching all of us by surprise. Wake up, sheeple.

Winner: Razor Ramon via pinfall in 3:45

There's some random chatter amongst the announcers as Razor Ramon struts away from the ring, having not broken a sweat, saying "one more for de bad guy" into the camera. Seriously, Scott Hall did not sweat a drop during that match. What a tremendous "worker." Well, let's go backstage to Mean Gene and the WWF World Tag Team Champions--"The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase and his personal accountant, Irwin R. Shyster (with that name, i have no idea how he didn't end up in electrical engineering).

Can you believe Ted DiBiase never held a singles title in the WWF? Aside from his bogus "Million Dollar Belt," that is. It's almost like his tag team title run here with IRS is a consolation prize for how he really should have gotten a run with the big belt. Still, his tag team work was some of the best stuff of his WWF career, so i'm not going to quibble. Tonight, Money Inc.'s task is to carry Hulk Hogan and Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake to a watchable match. If they pull this off, they should be awarded the IC and World titles on the spot as a matter of principle. 

Mean Gene takes us back to the start of this feud, and--well, ok, it's rather compelling, actually. On an episode of Monday Night RAW, Money Inc. were ganging up on Brutus Beefcake in the ring as IRS threatened to smash his briefcase into Beefcake's face, which had recently been very publicly reconstructed after taking a vicious kneesmash during a serious parasailing accident that legitimately caved in Brutus' face, requiring some of the best plastic surgery in the world to repair. The crowd was so shocked by IRS' intentions that Money Inc.'s manager, Jimmy Hart, turned babyface has even he thought it was over the line, pleading with Beefcake for forgiveness after Shyster followed up on his promise and collided briefcase with Beef-face. Okerlund is, of course, aghast at Money Inc.'s behavior, but the tag champs derisively cackle throughout an interview where they explain that there's no way they'll lose their belts in the city of money, "their turf." (I dunno, are all these gamblers paying the taxes on their winnings, Irwin?) IRS hints that they paid someone off to jump Hogan earlier today at the gym, and "if you think Beefcake's face is messed up, wait 'til you see Hogan." Guys, you're supposed to be the heels here. Paying ruffians to beat the shit out of Hulk Hogan only makes me love you more.

Match 5: Money Inc. ("The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase & Irwin R. Shyster)(c) vs. Hulk Hogan & Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake (w/Jimmy Hart) for the WWF World Tag Team Championship

Red and yellow smoke billows out of a machine near the backstage entrance as the "Mega-Maniacs," Hogan & Beefcake, emerge decked out in red & yellow. The WWF's special effects budget must have been way down this year, because that basically looked like a shitty technicolor piece of b-roll from Dune or some shit. Beefcake is wearing a protective facemask that, combined with his hedge clippers, makes him look like Kane lost a fight with a box of crayolas.

Or, i dunno--Jason Vorhees had a baby with a "Men at Work" sign?

Hogan comes out with a black eye, and sure enough--Money Inc. had someone attack Hogan last night! He's all beat up! (That, or he had a legit jet-ski accident while drinking and boating with Beefcake the day before the show--whatever.) This is the earliest Hogan's come out during a WrestleMania since IV, and as Randy Savage exclaims "welcome back, Hulk Hogan!", one can't possibly believe he's being sincere. "Welcome back, dude who i am still sure lusted after my manager/wife!" Heenan points out that both babyfaces have not been in a ring for over a year as the bell rings and Savage says that Hogan still has the energy to take it to Money Inc., whatever that means. Whatever anything Savage means. 

Money Inc. starts things off by working over Beefcake in their corner with rapid tags (including one non-tag where they switched while the ref's back was turned, which is one of my favorite cheap heel tactics--refusing a legal tag when they are perfectly capable of doing so). Eventually DiBiase attempts a double axehandle off the top rope onto Beefcake's face, writhing in pain as his hands collide with Brutus' face mask. Illegal advantage, or legit protection? Let's see what the announcers think: "You see, the Mega-Maniacs have to beat Money Inc.; the champs don't have to beat the Mega-Maniacs." Oh, they're totally ignoring this plot development. Well, good. DiBiase tries slamming Beefcake's head into a turnbuckle and he continues to no-sell. Beefcake grabs Ted's head, slams it into the turnbuckle and Hogan's foot, and finally tags in the Hulkster as the crowd goes nuts. Punches! More punches! The crowd counts along to the punches! What scintillating offense! More rapid-fire punches, and as referee Dave (Earl?) Hebner warns Hogan about closed fists, Hogan threatens to punch him too! Ah, the ultimate good guy, Hulk Hogan, threatening a WWF official with violence. Tag to Beefcake and DiBiase eats two boots to the face at once. "Great tag team offense," says Jim Ross. Yeah, these guys are the second coming of the Rockers.

More scientific offense from the Mega-Maniacs as Hogan and Beefcake alternate illegal closed fist punches. Eventually Hogan sends DiBiase out of the ring with a clothesline, and when IRS runs in to bail out his partner, he eats more punches and a poke in the eye from Hogan and he also tosses Irwin out of the ring. For the company's supposedly top good guy, Hogan sure does like to cheat a lot. Pokes in the eye! Rakes to the eye! Foreign objects! Hogan's done it all, and was doing it all well before he actually turned heel in '96! I can't imagine why the heel commentators were always so angry at him getting away with the same shit they constantly were vilified for. Maybe if Bobby Heenan had 24-inch pythons, a surfer's tan, and pretended to worship God, maybe he could have gotten away with a lot more cheating.

CASE IN POINT: Money, Inc. say "the hell with it" and start walking toward the back, ostensibly to get intentionally counted out and save their titles. However, Finkel Finkus gets on the mic and announces, "the referee has informed me that if Money, Inc. do not return to the ring by a ten count, they will not only lose the match, but they will also lose their tag team championship!" The fans squeal with glee and Heenan flips out. "How can you just make up the rules as you go along?!?" Good fucking question, man! "If i was president this wouldn't happen!" Money, Inc. run back to the ring, sliding in at eight, and both teams reset. Dumb.

DiBiase takes control on Hulk Hogan, and as he distracts the ref, IRS uses a loose tag rope to start choking Hogan out on the apron. Beefcake is livid, but can do nothing about it as The Million Dollar Man gets in some choking offense too. So, Hogan's gonna get the big beatdown here and Beefcake's gonna get the hot tag later? Oh, that's sure to be dynamite. More choking and punches, please, gang! DiBiase delivers by draping Hogan's neck over the top rope. Well, we're at least getting some chokehold variety, if nothing else. Nothing else.

DiBiase locks on the Million-Dollar Dream. "This is what DiBiase's famous for," says Savage, "this one hold!" Not for kicking a basketball away from a kid or inventing his own title belt. Hogan teases several comebacks, including one hulk-up attempt after the ref tries dropping his arm three times, but Ted's got the hold locked in too well. So, how best to break up the Million-Dollar Dream in a tag team match? Wait for IRS to unwittingly distract the ref so Beefcake can sneak in, knock DiBiase out with his own sleeperhold in like five seconds (the fuck?), and then leave the ring before the ref turns back around. Still more cheating from the babyfaces? Et tu, Brutus? (I've been waiting all PPV for that joke. Shoot me in the face.)

The ref starts the simultaneous ten-count as both Hogan and DiBiase are on the ground, with Hogan sitting up first at nine. He crawls to his corner and finally hits the hot tag to Beefcake, who connects with punches, a kneelift, and an atomic drop on DiBiase that Ted makes look like a million bucks by flopping out of the ring...where he can grab IRS' briefcase and sneakily bash it over Beefcake to stop his rally. The champs are back in control as DiBiase tries to take Beefcake's protective facemask. "When that mask comes off, we're gonna have a hockey game because we're gonna have a face-off!" Heenan snarks. The mask comes off and Brutus' face meets IRS' foot as the facial abuse commences. 

Logistical question here: Lex Luger allegedly had a steel plate inserted into his forearm after an accident (which he allegedly used to attack Bret Hart earlier today), so when he used a forearm shot against his opponent, they would sell it as if they were cracked by a metal weapon. So when DiBiase and IRS attack Beefcake's reconstructed steel plate-infested face, why do their fists not hurt? Wrestling physics is a weird discipline to study.

Beefcake fights back and puts the sleeperhold on IRS, and when DiBiase comes in to break it up with an axehandle to Beefcake's back, all three men tumble into the Hebner Twin officiating this match. Because NO ONE REF BUMPS LIKE A HEBNER, Dave/Earl flies halfway across the ring selling sudden unconsciousness. Still, an unconscious ref doesn't stop both teams from making VERY DRAMATIC TAGS to their partners, and Hogan gets a hot tag from Beefcake and hops in against DiBiase. "But the ref didn't see it!" exclaims the commentators. SO WHY THE FUCK ARE THEY BOTHERING WITH TAGS? Argh, the logic in this match is about as existent as an honest Republican. 

CASE IN FUCKING POINT: Hogan eventually grabs Beefcake's loose facemask and cracks both members of Money, Inc. with it. He covers one as Beefcake covers the other, and the fans are screaming at Hebner to wake up and make the count which would result from blatant cheating. With no ref moving any time soon, Jimmy Hart runs into the ring, takes his jacket off and turns it inside-out to reveal referee stripes on the inside (because...he saw this exact scenario coming? Man, he really did do his homework), and counts the one-two-three. The Mega-Maniacs leap and celebrate like this is a completely legit result and hoist the tag belts in the air as the crowd wonders what the fuck just happened. Your heroes just managed to break the rules even more than the rulebreakers, you suckers! Stop cheering for criminality! Has the whole world gone crazy?!?

Finally, some sanity is restored as a second ref comes down to ringside and raises the true tag champions' hands, awarding the match to Money, Inc. as the result of a disqualification. Damn straight. The Mega-Maniacs respond by putting their hands on a licensed WWF official and threatening him with physical harm. Seriously, who are the real heels here?!? As the champs beat it to the locker room, the fans implore Hogan and Beefcake to punch the second ref (who happens to be formerly crooked ref/chickenshit heel wrestler "Dangerous" Danny Davis) while Jimmy Hart talk them out of abusing a referee...because he wants to do it himself. Hart tosses Davis out of the ring as the fans cheer, Hogan's music starts up, and the "good guys" celebrate their heroic deeds. My god. Fuck this shit with a barbed wire bat.

Winners: Money, Inc. via DQ in 18:27

Hogan and Beefcake strut, pose, and play to the crowd while Bobby Heenan lays on the truth. "How can these guys celebrate when they don't have the belts, they have the loser's end of the purse...they're nuts." I really miss the days when Monsoon and Heenan would make references to the "purse," implying that the winners of wrestling matches were paid more money than the losers, instilling some real-world consequences into even non-title matches. Speaking of money: as the Mega-Maniacs exuberantly celebrate their disqualification loss, Hogan notices that Money, Inc. have left their briefcase in the ring. The three "babyfaces" crack open the case to reveal a brick--"you never know when you'll need a brick," explains Heenan--and huge wads of cash money, which Hogan, Hart, and Beefcake wave around and eventually distribute to the fans at ringside. So, these guys use foreign objects, an illegal referee, and they're thieves. And the crowd loves it, just because, i dunno, they hate rich people and tax collectors, i guess. I mean, i hate to stick up for rich people and tax collectors, but holy shit did IRS and DiBiase get the shaft here. I guess the good guys are still allowed to be cheered as long as the designated heels cheat first. After that, all bets are off. I AM VERY INDIGNANT ABOUT ALL OF THIS.

Sigh...moving on, we have Mean Gene talking to newly minted fan favorite Mr. Perfect, who is taking on "The Narcissist" Lex Luger and his "controversial" steel forearm, which, again, he used to knock Bret Hart cold at a charity breakfast function earlier today or whatever the hell. Perfect discusses all the things he's perfect at, like golf and gambling ("i got a hole in one this week, and i've been red hot at the tables"), but starts tripping over his words and calling Luger "The Lexorcist," which is a WAY better nickname than "The Narcissist." Mr. Perfect: not perfect at promos...or is he just making promos even better? (Seriously. "The Lexorcist." Amazing. A beefy muscle-bro whose head spins around as he vomits pea soup in the ring? Shut up and take my money, Vince!)

Match 6: "The Narcissist" Lex Luger vs. Mr. Perfect

Oy, Lex Luger. Last year you were sitting in a studio pretending that it was an apartment that you furnished like a Days Inn as you discussed the World Bodybuilding Federation and your creepily sentient pecs. Now, with the WBF already gone under, you are back to wrestling while still showing off your twitchy muscle boobs and portraying a sexless version of the title character from Rocky Horror. You make your way to ringside with four scantily-clad models whom the cameras cannot keep away from, because...well. That's...that's just a whole lotta butt, dude.

Actual screenshot

When they get into the ring, where does Lex's attention go? To the mirrors he commands them to lift, of course, so he can stare at himself instead of the eight barely-concealed breasts in the ring. Because he's the Narcissist, you see.

The mirrors even have cheap-ass little sparks flying out of them, symbolizing Luger's excitement upon seeing his own half-naked visage. There may be a healthy serving of butts in this ring, but there's only one ass.

Loud cheers for Mr. Perfect are something i will never be accustomed to. His natural state is smarmy heel, so the idea of a guy who calls himself "Mr. Perfect" being anything but a pompous asshole just doesn't make any damn sense. From cheating babyfaces to botched moves to bullshit gimmicks, all the way down to subtler mistakes like mishandling already-proven gimmicks, this WrestleMania really is the nadir of the franchise, isn't it?

A battle of wristlocks starts things off, with both men swapping the hold until Perfect tries to hit Luger in the face and he immediately backs off. Because Luger's so pretty, you see. As he paces the ring and sizes up Perfect for their next exchange, our intrepid commentary team explains that Mr. Perfect has to be keenly aware of how Luger has used his metal forearm to knock out every opponent he's faced so far in his WWF tenure. Compelling table-setting for this match, indeed. Perfect hits a kneelift and slaps on a side headlock for a bit, gaining a brief upper hand, as a sweet dropkicks knocks Luger out of the ring to regroup (and probably nurse his face, because oh god Perfect's boot touched it and now he'll probably break out in an avalanche of zits or something because he is so delicate). 

The discussion of Luger's knockout victories continues as Heenan claims that the metal forearm has nothing to do with's "bat speed." "Macho Man, you know a little something about baseball, so you know that the speed of the bat is just as important." Heenan referencing Randy Savage's minor league baseball career = GOLD. Luger gains a brief advantage that's immediately reversed when Perfect grabs Lex's leg mid-kick. His response? A slap to the face and an ankle smash that Luger sells by screaming as loud as he possibly can. Man, i forgot all about Lex's tendency to sell his opponent's offense with incessant yelling. "OUCH! HEY EVERYONE, THAT REALLY HURT! SERIOUSLY IT DID! MOMMY!" Hennig continues to attack the ankle and Lex continues to scream in pain as Perfect applies a spinning ankle lock. And the conversation continues, as Macho Man explains to Heenan that a perfect knockout record isn't natural: "even Muhammad Ali tried to knock everyone out and didn't." "Woah! Haha! Woah, Macho Man! You didn't just try to compare Muhammad Ali to The Narcissist, did you?" OK, i laughed.

Luger gets the advantage back after a reversal of an Irish whip. He then sends Perfect into the opposite corner with enough velocity that Curt probably didn't have to try very hard to bump himself into the air and four feet back out from the corner. Luger continues to attack Perfect's lower back with a shove into the apron, some forearms, and a backbreaker that leads to a two-count. Say what you want about Lex Luger--for what the man lacked in technical skill and subtlety, he still understood ring psychology and could generally tell a story in the ring (and the right opponent could make him look like a million dollars, right Ric Flair?). After a flurry from Perfect, Luger gets Hennig on the mat and covers him with his feet on the turnbuckle for leverage, leading to a pinfall count that's halted when the ref sees the feet on the ropes. Busted. He keeps up the offense with a powerslam that leads to a legit two-count. A whip to the ropes and Hennig ends up launching himself over Luger into a sunset flip that Lex sells by crashing to the mat for a near-pin. Hennig answers with a sleeper that Luger immediately powers out of. Perfect also scores a two-count on a surprise roll-up, then hits Luger with a backdrop that Lex sells once again with a "YAAOW!" that is almost as comedic as Perfect's overselling for Brutus Beefcake back at 'Mania VI. Perfect is on fire now. Multiple forearm shots (trying to beat Luger at his own game maybe?) resulting in near-falls. A reverse neckbreaker for a count of two. The pace is quickening as Perfect has the Narcissist reeling, but each time he escapes defeat within a hair of the ref slapping three. Beautiful missile dropkick off the top rope, and Lex has to drape one foot over the bottom rope to escape defeat. Both men try to connect with a backslide, and as Perfect gains the advantage, Luger blocks it by hooking his foot under the second rope. Eventually Lex gets the backslide and Perfect's shoulders hit the mat, but both his feet are hanging in the ropes, so he doesn't bother with a kickout attempt. However, the ref, after catching feet in the ropes multiple times during the match, completely misses these feet in the ropes, and counts three, awarding the match to Luger. Hey! Check this out! A satisfying heel finish based on ring psychology established earlier in the match! And it wasn't that bad! It took the sixth match of the night with 45 minutes left in the show to finally get something approaching watchable from bell to bell! Good job, guys! Silver stars all around!

Winner: Lex Luger via pinfall in 10:56

As Perfect protests to the ref, Luger rushes up at him from behind and hits him with the metal forearm, KO'ing Perfect in the middle of the ring, which is just adding injury to insult, really. Just not a neighborly move from Lex Luger. When Perfect comes to, the fans cheer him loudly as he motions that he was knocked silly by a loaded forearm, and with a scowl on his face, he goes to exact revenge. See, Curt? Being the good guy doesn't pay. Turn heel again. Just don't ever pretend you're a cowboy from Texas if you can help it.

The camera stays with Curt as he heads into the back and spots Luger talking with Shawn Michaels, so he goes on the attack but ends up getting jumped by Shawn, who drops a garbage can onto Perfect's head with what looks to be pretty sick impact, even if it is plastic. So i assume that this launches what had to have been a pretty sweet Michaels/Perfect feud over the Intercontinental Title, right? *checks Wikipedia* Yup, sure enough--Perfect goes on to challenge Michaels for the IC belt at SummerSlam and lose thanks to interference by Michaels' new bodyguard, Diesel. Oh, good. Diesel. I had been looking forward to Diesel. By which i mean i was not looking forward to Diesel.

So. We've had wrestling clowns, a war-dancing Native American, two face-painted ladies, a canary-faced serial killer and a surfer bro cheating to beat two rich dudes, and a eunuch knocking out a guy who claims to be perfect. Can this shitshow get any shittier than the Narcissist and two Doinks the Clown?

 I guess that's a yes

See, it's not enough to have a guy be nearly eight feet tall to make him a freak show; it's important to also dress him in a Slim Goodbody airbrush job that only obscures his junk with a huge swath of pubes. He's wrestling...oh, The Undertaker. Well, certainly 'Taker will be able to carry this lumbering jackalope to a watchable match, right?

Match #7: Giant Gonzalez (w/Harvey Whippleman) vs. The Undertaker (w/Paul Bearer) -- STREAK MATCH #3

  Why...why did they airbrush an ass crack? Someone received instructions from Creative to airbrush an ass crack onto a full body suit made to fit an eight-foot-tall man. Well...i guess we should be thankful that for once the WWF didn't come up with a gimmick for a Hispanic man based on lucha libre or low-riders?

Speaking of wheeled vehicles, here comes the Undertaker and...well, in the annals of Undertaker entrances at WrestleMania, this certainly ranks as one of them. He's getting pulled in a chariot by two of the most homoerotic Masters of the Universe we've seen yet, bathed in green smoke with a vulture on a perch next to him. I...i just have to show this to you guys. It defies words. This is what Ed Wood would have done in one of his horror movies if he had a full budget to work with, such was the scope of his imagination.

The fuck

Note the moment where whatever bird handler they have takes the vulture off its perch to take it backstage. The poor guy's so spooked that he tries to fly away, but he gets yanked back to Earth. Fuuuuck this. 

We start with warring chokes, as Giant Gonzalez grabs 'Taker by the throat and forces him into a corner, where 'Taker climbs the turnbuckles in order to choke the Giant, who responds with a straight up punch to the balls. Well, this is going swimmingly so far. Undertaker doesn't sell much scrotal pain, though, as he does his walk across the top rope into a flying forearm and takes it to the Giant with more punches and kicks that send Gonzalez reeling into the corner. But when the ref forced 'Taker to bring the action out of the corner, Gonzalez responds with a boot to 'Taker's face, which is followed by a clothesline and forearm to the back of the neck. Very exciting stuff. If you had ever been curious about how an Undertaker vs. Naked Andre the Giant match would have gone, this is a pretty good approximation, i'd wager.

Gonzalez is wearing Undertaker down with the shittiest-looking chinlock ever executed by a legit, trained pro wrestler. The ref tries to drop 'Taker's arm once, but he immediately reaches for Paul Bearer and The Mysterious Urn of Supernatural Fury, which wills Undertaker to fight back for some reason. He gets back up to his feet and eventually elbows himself out of the chinlock but gets tossed out of the ring (or more accurately, he runs himself out of the ring and Gonzalez barely gets his arms around 'Taker's shoulders to make it look like he did it). "Undertaker's never run that fast but he was pushed, guaranteed." Yeah, um, way to try to cover for Undertaker obviously running out of the ring without any real push from Gonzalez, Macho Man, but we ain't buying it. Gonzalez throws 'Taker into the ring steps, and as one of them loudly lands upside-down on 'Taker's legs, exposing the hollow insides, Jim Ross exclaims that "those are solid steel steps." Solid. Except for all the air.

"The Undertaker is finished," Heenan crows. "That vulture better get out here and start circling, because he could be having din-din off the ground with the Under--he's back on his feet!" Well, obviously, Bobby--Paul Bearer is right there using the urn to transfer magical energies into his undead muscles or whatever. Taker goes into the ring, gets headbutted onto the mat, and immediately sits upright, popping the crowd. Another headbutt, another immediate situp. The man in the airbrushed naked muscle suit expresses indignance. The Undertaker pummels away at Giant Gonzalez, who does about the most comedic sell-job this side of Andre and Jake's snake, eventually dropping to one knee. Jesus--before Gonzalez's reaction to those punches, i thought his airbrushed ass crack was the most ridiculous thing about this match. Harvey Whippleman leaps to the apron, throws a rag into the ring that the broadcast team insists smells like chloroform ("is that what they call it?" asks Savage), and Gonzalez attacks Undertaker with it, eventually earning a disqualification after the ref decides after about twenty seconds that maybe he should at least use a fucking five count if he's not going to just immediately toss out the match. 

Winner: Undertaker via DQ in 7:33; streak now at 3-0

You know...some of the early matches in the Undertaker's legendary WrestleMania streak weren't exactly very legendary. 

A bunch of "medical personnel" wearing togas wheel an unconscious zombie into the backstage area on a gurney while a grown man with airbrushed pubes over his junk chokeslams a referee. I honestly thought that the two Doinks was gonna be the most ridiculously cartoonish thing about this show. Now i know that Giant Gonzalez's thing is the most ridiculously cartoonish thing on this show. The fans, by the way, are chanting for Hogan to come and attack Giant Gonzalez. I really hate these fans.

Just as i start wondering why the fuck Gonzalez is still in the ring, the gong hits and the fans go nuts as Undertaker emerges once again, marching toward the ring to exact revenge! Giant Gonzalez, the man with a beard like an awkward high school freshman and--i'll say it again--an airbrushed ass crack, currently has a "you've gotta be fucking kidding me" look on his face, as if this has just now surpassed his standards for ridiculousness. Undertaker clotheslines Gonzalez out of the ring as the Giant and his manager ask what happened, security leads Gonzalez to the back, and it's all very, deeply stupid. Is it time for the main event yet?

We go to Mean Gene Okerlund who, in order to put over Yokozuna as a huge beast monster that poses a huge threat to Bret Hart's championship, shows a clip of Yoko absolutely squashing the living fuck out of Hacksaw Jim Duggan on Saturday morning WWF TV. Well, that's just divine. Okerlund comes back onto camera looking concerned, but i'm tempted to roll that back. It was beautiful. 

Less beautiful is the clip here of the attack Yokozuna perpetrated upon the champ at their contract signing, smashing Bret into a corner with an avalanche and then connecting with the sit-down banzai drop in the corner. Oy, that's a lot of ass cheek smothering a dude's air passages right there. The things these guys endure for a paycheck.

Back to Gene: "a lot of oddsmakers are saying that it looks in fact like Yokozuna will be the new World Wrestling Federation champion. I can think of no one better to ask about his thoughts on the main event than four-time champion himself, Hulk Hogan." Oh, are you fucking kidding me? "Ted DiBiase mentioned it, but i've gotta ask--your eye! What happened?" WHO FUCKING CARES? WHERE'S THE CHAMP? MAYBE ASK HIM ABOUT HOW HE FEELS ABOUT HIS UPCOMING TITLE MATCH DON'T YOU THINK FOR FUCK'S SAKE? AAAAAAAGH!

"Well ya know somethin', Mean Gene? I just left the WWF champion's dressing room, and i let him know that all the Hulkamaniacs out there are in his corner." My fucking ass. He goes on to babble about how many people are stepping over the line in the WWF these days, whether it be taking liberties with his "bionic brother Brutus," or getting jumped leaving the gym in Vegas. "I guess money can buy certain liberties in this town. But a word of warning to Bret 'the Hitman' Hart--i want you to watch this Yokozuna and Mr. Fuji like a cat, brother. And i want you to know that me and all my Hulkamaniacs are on your side." Gee, isn't Hogan great? Magnanimously throwing his support toward the current champ because he's just that decent a character? Hulk Hogan, you're all fucking heart. "But as i looked in the champ's eyes, i saw the power of Hulkamania, but for a second i even doubted it. And that's why i want to say right now that whoever wins, whether it's Bret 'the Hitman' Hart, or the Jap"--yes, he sure as hell said that--"i want the first shot." Aha, there it is. Instead of, say, interviewing one of the participants in the main event, we instead get Hulk Hogan demanding a title match with the winner. I'm so glad Vince McMahon had so much faith in Bret Hart and Yokozuna to put asses in seats by themselves.

We go to the ring and Finkus Maximus starts to introduce the match. Yup, not one interview with the champ or the challenger. Just a whole buncha Hogan. GEE, I WONDER IF HE'S GONNA GET INVOLVED IN THE MATCH. 

Match #8: Bret "Hitman" Hart(c) vs. Yokozuna (w/Mr. Fuji) for the WWF World Heavyweight Championship

Man, i don't even want to sit through this, i'm already so angry. This was 21 years ago, and i'm freshly pissed. Fuck it, let's get through this. Bret and Yoko are both in the ring, and as Hart gives his shades away to a young fan, Yokozuna stares straight ahead, stone-faced. All business. Yoko turns, bows to the corner, throws ceremonial salt, and the bell rings. Bret starts off quickly, surprising Yoko with a dropkick that backs him into the corner, and as Bret attacks with rapid punches to the head, Yoko responds by simply shoving Hart halfway across the ring. Hart tries to wrap his arms around Yoko's gut, but Yoko merely tosses him off and then shoulderblocks him out of the ring HARD. Bret goes flying out of the ring and is immediately dazed. As he tries to climb back onto the apron, Yoko goes for a kick to the head, which Bret uses to grab Yoko's foot, tie him in the ropes, and trip him to the mat, which pops the crowd. Hart then slingshots over the top rope and onto 'Zuna, strafing his head with more rapid-fire punches and a second-rope elbow drop. Hart follows up with a pair of clotheslines that rock the "sumo warrior" but don't drop him, eventually responding with a clothesline of his own that drops the Hitman immediately. They're telling an effective champ-as-underdog story here, that's for certain. 

Yokozuna bounces off the ropes and the crowd screams in anticipation even before he connects with a legdrop that Hart sells like he just had a piano dropped on him. The crowd starts a chant--not "let's go Bret," but "USA! USA!" because these fans are fucking infuriating. Yokozuna wears Hart down with a nervehold as the Hitman sells desperation and exhaustion, while Heenan expounds on Hart's recent busy title defense schedule. "It's his own fault, taking on all comers and defending so often. The law of averages just catches up." 'Zuna whips Hart into the turnbuckle and he connects hard, but as Yoko charges in for an avalanche, Bret gets his foot up and connects with Yoko's face! He hops to the second rope, leaping onto Yoko's back and knocking him over--it looked like he was maybe going to lock on a sleeperhold but Yokozuna lost his balance. Still, Bret recovers enough to cover Yokozuna for a close two-count. Yokozuna retaliates with a superkick that levels Bret as the crowd jeers and Heenan observes that he's not even breathing heavy yet. Another nervehold on Bret and the Hitman is selling extreme pain. More "USA!" chants from the fucking crowd. "You know how bright they are?" Heenan asks. "One of these guys is from Canada and the other is from Japan." THANK YOU BOBBY. I mean, sure, Yokozuna's actually from Samoa, and one of the Samoan islands is an American territory, so these fans are closer to actually cheering for Yokozuna than they are Hart right now, but your point is made! Fuck these fans in the face!

Yokozuna goes for another avalanche in the corner and this time, Bret gets out of the way, which stuns and buckles the big man enough for Hart to climb the ropes and connect with a flying bulldog, popping the crowd HUGE as Jim Ross excitedly exclaims "A BULLDOG! AND YOKOZUNA IS DOWN!" A cover and Yoko throws Bret off at two, but the rally is on. A pair of clotheslines knock Yoko to the mat, but he's right back up in the corner. Bret climbs and punches Yoko in the head, but 'Zuna grabs him and begins to march him out of the corner for a slam...except Bret's clutching the turnbuckle for dear life. Yoko's strength wins out and Bret tears the pad off the turnbuckle, but when he gets back up he grabs Yokozuna's head and slams it into the exposed turnbuckle link! Yokozuna crumbles to the ground face first, and Bret locks on the Sharpshooter! ...Which is where everything goes to hell.

The ref's asking Yokozuna to submit, so he doesn't see Mr. Fuji grab his ceremonial salt and throw it into Bret's face. Bret crumbles to the mat and Yokozuna pins him to win the title. Highway robbery!

Winner: Yokozuna in 8:55 via pinfall to win the WWF World Title

And, fuck, Hogan's in the ring IMMEDIATELY. Like, Yokozuna's just got the belt on his shoulder. Hogan is loudly protesting to the ref about the salt usage as Fuji grabs a microphone. "HOGAN! YOU BIG MAN! My Yokozuna issue a challenge! Do you accept? Come on you yellow belly!" Oh, god, Fuji, what the fuck are you doing, you complete asshole. As it dawns on Hogan, he "asks Bret for his approval" and Bret points him toward the ring. "Bret's telling him to go for it!" exclaims Jim Ross. What he was probably trying to say was "tell that cheating prick to shut the fuck up," but whatever--if you need to think Bret gave Hulk his blessing to go fight Yokozuna in the most bullshit plot contrivance in WWF history, you go right the fuck ahead and think that. I want to set you all on fire.

Match #9: Yokozuna (w/Mr. Fuji)(c) vs. Hulk Hogan for the WWF World Heavyweight Championship, i guess

Yokozuna jumps Hogan, and holds him for Fuji to throw more salt in his eyes. Hogan ducks, and the salt hits Yoko instead. He falls to the mat, Hogan hits the legdrop, and the ref--WHO NEVER SIGNALED FOR THE BELL TO RING--counts three and awards the title to Hogan. I'll repeat--they didn't even bother to ring the fucking bell, these lazy suckholes. Why bother? We've got 16,000 people cheering for the slimiest backstage politician of them all; they won't know or care about the difference. 21 seconds, you guys. 21 seconds and suddenly Hulk Hogan is all in the middle of the ring with the WWF title belt with an "aw shucks, me?" look on his face while Bret Hart is backstage wondering what the fuck he did to deserve this shit. 

Winner: Oh, fuck this

Get a load of this smug asshole. Had i been watching this PPV live in 1993, i would have smashed the television after watching Everyone's Favorite Superhero bury the best wrestler in the company just to feed his ego and close the show yet again. I honestly can't say if i've ever seen a PPV finish that has angered me more, and i'm seeing this after living with the knowledge of the result for 21 years. I've had since 1993 to let this sink in! Fuck! I'm very angry!

In a small bit of consolation, i will point out that just two months later at the inaugural King of the Ring PPV, this happens:

That's a "Japanese photographer" with an exploding camera that launched a fireball into Hogan's face during the main event rematch, which led to this:

Yokozuna regained the title in swift fashion, then went on an uninterrupted title run all the way to WrestleMania X. Which is where we'll pick things up next time, once i've calmed down.

Seriously. Fuck Hulk Hogan.

1 comment:

  1. No fuck you loser hogan made wwe so get a fucking life shitbag