Friday, December 5, 2008

WWF WrestleMania VIII

Let’s start by looking at the set-up of this show. The Hoosier Dome (now the RCA Dome) has a similar look to the Silverdome which held ‘Mania III. There are probably 68,000 or more people in the building and the long aisleway runs from under the stands out to the ring. Gorilla and Bobby are on commentary and are on the top of their game, with Heenan delivering arguably some of his best work ever.

1) Shawn Michaels vs. Tito Santana – 5
Michaels came in cocky and confident, as if he was just going to walk right over Tito. Tito was saddled with the “El Matador” thing but made the most of it. This started fast and after the initial exchange, it settled down and Tito controlled a lot of the match by keeping the side headlock tight. Michaels was able to break free a few times and at one point drilled Tito with what would eventually become known as Sweet Chin Music. Tito did bust out a nice flying shoulder-block and two of his patented flying forearms. This would’ve gotten another point had the finish been a little cleaner as Tito tried to suplex Michaels back into the ring from the apron but Michaels held the top-rope. Once they switched camera angles, it was tough to see if Sherri tripped Tito or if Shawn just forced him down for the pin. Afterwards, Heenan calls Michaels “the star of the 90s”. Truer words have never been spoken. This was a solid match and a great match to open the show with.

Gene Okerlund joins us from the stage set up on the side of the aisleway and introduces the Legion of Doom with a debuting Paul Ellering. They all cut promos going from Ellering to Animal to Hawk twice. They run down Jimmy Hart and the Beverly Brothers as Ellering says “it is the beginning of the end”. Honestly, I don’t see the point of having this interview on here unless it was to kill time. They could’ve just as easily canned this and put on the British Bulldog/Berzerker match that ended up getting cut from the show.

2) The Undertaker vs. Jake “The Snake” Roberts – 4
This would be Jake’s last match before heading to WCW in a very ill-fated run and it turned out to be an extended squash for ‘Taker. Jake got in little offense during the bout and only hit his big moves like the short-arm clothesline and two DDTs. The finish saw Jake go after Paul Bearer on the outside and try to steal the urn. In turn, he was then Tombstoned on the outside by ‘Taker and rolled back in for the pin. Funny story about that finish … it wasn’t the scheduled finish. Jake told ‘Taker to do the Tombstone on the outside instead of in the ring and said that Vince had changed it. The only problem was Vince never changed a thing and the original finish was for Jake to get beaten in the middle of the ring without the stuff on the outside. This was a basic match with nothing really of note.

3) Rowdy Roddy Piper vs. Bret Hart – 7
This was a fantastic match! Piper and Bret exchanged words in the interview area before the match which helped raise the intensity level. They slapped each other, spit on each other, and tricked each other just to try to gain the upper hand. There was a noticeable botch on a spot where both guys tried to go over the top and it didn’t exactly work as planned. Bret suckered in Piper with a feigned injury and got a two-count. Piper busted Bret open with a punch and then scored with a bulldog headlock. Bret fought back and scored with a superplex. A ref bump saw Piper grab the ring bell but then having second thoughts with going to hit him. Piper threw down the bell, caught Bret in a sleeper, but then Bret countered it by walking the buckle and getting the pin. Piper teased turning on Bret after the match but, in a show of good sportsmanship, presented Bret with the belt and helped him up. A great Intercontinental title match with both men matching each other move for move.

We join Gorilla and Bobby in the booth where Bobby has a satellite hookup with Lex Luger. Bobby puts Luger over as a heel in the WBF and Luger puts Bobby over as a great commentator, to which Gorilla offers an exasperated “What!”. After the interview is over, Gorilla delivers the classic line “He certainly knows the body parts but he doesn’t know anything about broadcasting ability!”, to which Heenan replies by holding two fingers up behind Gorilla’s head while Gorilla is introducing the next match.

4) Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Sgt. Slaughter, The Big Bossman, & Virgil vs. The Nasty Boys, The Repo Man, & The Mountie – 3
Ray Combs of Family Feud fame is the guest ring announcer for this bout. His announcement of the heel team takes forever as he cracks jokes at their expense. The heels rush him and we’re off. A quadruple clothesline spot clears the ring for the face squad. It settles down after that but soon legal man issues come into effect as the referee has a very hard time controlling the action. Virgil comes in wearing a face protector, to which Heenan says that Virgil looks like a spotted owl. A mis-communication by the Nastys finish off the bout as Virgil gets the pin. There wasn’t much to this one as it was pretty much filler.

5) Randy “Macho Man” Savage vs. Ric Flair – 7
If you thought the intensity level on the Bret/Piper match was something, you haven’t seen anything yet. The backstory to this is that Flair was infatuated with Miss Elizabeth and Savage was defending her honor. They start off by brawling in the aisleway and Mr. Perfect, who was Flair’s manager, gets involved almost immediately by throwing Savage into the ring. Savage’s selling of his knee after getting it worked over was great. Perfect regularly interfered on Flair’s behalf and that really hurt the score for me. There was one point where he climbed up on the apron, pulled and object out of his pocket right in front of the referee, and tossed it to Flair. The referee would’ve had to have been Ray Charles in order not to see that! Flair gets busted open after missing a spot and hitting his head on the rail. Liz runs down to ringside with numerous suits, including a very young Shane-O-Mac, trying to escort back to the locker room. The crowd reaction after Savage got the pin on Flair was deafening. Afterwards, Flair approaches Liz, gets slapped, and Flair and Savage brawl some more.

6) Rick Martel vs. Tatanka – 4
Heenan spends the majority of the match running down Tatanka and saying he should pitch for the Cleveland Indians. This is pretty basic with them never really getting out of second gear. This would wind up being Martel’s last WrestleMania appearance and this was the kick-start for the long running feud between the two that would last until late in the year. The in-ring work was there but it’s hard to follow the Savage/Flair match.

7) Ted DiBiase & Irwin R. Schyster vs. The Natural Disasters – 4
Jimmy Hart had turned on the Disasters weeks prior to this bout so this was a revenge match for them. DiBiase and IRS were just beginning their awesome run as a team but something seemed off on this match. I think it was because these teams don’t really match up that well. DiBiase and IRS tried to work around the size of the Disasters but it was not to be as they eventually grabbed their belts and walked out on the match. Blah finish to a very blah match.

8) Owen Hart vs. Skinner – 1
Talk about a quickie! Skinner attacks early and throws Owen over the top. Owen skins-the-cat and rolls up Skinner for the pin. Nothing to it. I’m not even sure why it was on the show.

9) Hulk Hogan vs. Sid Justice – 5
This was billed up to be Hogan’s potential final match and Sid was yelling and screaming about how he would make sure it would be Hogan’s final match. This was a basic big man match with Sid controlling Hogan early by working the back and doing some power submissions. Hogan fought back though, much to the crowd’s delight as the roar became deafening with each no-sell Hogan did. Sid kicked out of a legdrop and Harvey Wippleman interferes for a DQ finish. Papa Shango runs down to help Sid beat up Hogan. Then, the Warrior’s music hits and the place erupts by the sight of him charging down the aisle to Hogan’s aid. The show ends with Hogan and Warrior posing. The match wasn’t much but I give it a bonus point for the surprise appearance by the Warrior.

Overall, this is a fun WrestleMania and perhaps my favorite ever. Bret/Piper and Savage/Flair are must sees and the rest of the show gets a nod in the postivie category. The last half kind of fell flat until the Hogan match. In closing, this is a great way to kill three hours and, to be honest, you can’t really go wrong with any WWF pay-per-view from 1992.


Didge said...

I recently watched piper vs. hart and it didnt hold up. piper techincal was forced and sloppy. and what was the botch where "both guys tried to go over the top" what spot was this? and over the top of what?

Brian said...

the backstory on Savage/Flair went well beyond Ric being "infatuated".. - as a subscriber to WWF Magazine then, i distinctly remember Ric publishing photos of him and Liz that made Randy furious..

Brian said...

i think Survivor Series '92 was a better overall show.. save for all of the usual WM hoopla..

Jessie said...

I also owned the scandalous Flair & Liz issue...and was dying to see that centerfold of Liz high in the rafters, or as Heenan was waiting for, "the staple mark in her belly button,".....i have to say that piper and bret was pretty good still, as i revisited it last year. they actually didn't do a lot of technical and kept the heat on whether piper would turn or not....hart bled and both men sold should check that one out, i'm longwinded...this is also one of my favorite shows as a kid, probably watched a good 2 dozen times