Recaps (PPV/Event)WWE PPVWWE PPV 1993

‘WWF WRESTLEMANIA IX’ Recap + Review – Bret vs. Yoko, Mega Maniacs vs. Money Inc., Maybe I Don’t Hate Giant Gonzalez?

DATE: April 4, 1993
VENUE: Caesar’s Palace (Las Vegas, NV)
COMMENTATORS: Jim Ross, “Macho Man” Randy Savage, & Bobby “The Brain” Heenan

Long regarded as one of the worst WrestleMania events of all-time, the 9th edition of the event really leaned into their Caesar’s Palace (parking lot) location from the graphics to mostly everyone being decked out in togas. It was an interesting experiment that many considered a failure. But was it? Was it really?

Okay kinda but I think I did end up liking the show a lot more than most people. Let’s run down the show and I’ll tell you why.

CHAMPIONS

  • WWF CHAMPION: Bret “The Hitman” Hart
  • WWF INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPION: “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels
  • WWF TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS: Money Inc. (“The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase & Irwin R. Schyster)

LINEUP (Personal Favorites in Bold)

  • Shawn Michaels [c] vs. Tatanka for the WWF INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP
  • The Steiner Brothers vs. The Headshrinkers
  • Crush vs. Doink The Clown
  • Bob Backlund vs. Razor Ramon
  • Money Inc. [c] vs. Mega Maniacs for the WWF TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP
  • Mr. Perfect vs. Lex Luger
  • The Undertaker vs. Giant Gonzalez
  • Bret Hart [c] vs. Yokozuna for the WWF CHAMPIONSHIP
  • A TOTALLY FINE AND NOT ALL CONTROVERSIAL SECOND MATCH I WON’T SPOIL HERE

*****

WrestleMania host Gorilla Monsoon takes it to a toga-wearing Jim Ross, making his WWF debut as the lead commentator for the company’s biggest show of the year. No pressure, man. “Macho Man” Randy Savage is introduced next, fed grapes by vestal virgins as he’s carried out (much like when he was a king). He is not wearing a toga, instead decked out in his usual attire but with a color scheme fitting the event. Macho Man is too Macho to have fun. Finally a terrified Bobby “The Brain” Heenan makes his way to the ring riding backwards on a camel as the crowd chants “WEASEL”. Heenan even gets a little pratfall in, exposing his underwear, and I’m sure Vince McMahon lost his damn mind laughing backstage. It’s pretty funny, to be honest.

“The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels [c] [w/ Luna Vachon] vs. “The Native American” Tatanka [w/ Sensational Sherri] for the WWF INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP

This is Luna’s WWF debut; a member of the legendary Vachon family, she’s got an unconventional (i.e. AWESOME) look and is here to be Michaels’ insurance policy against Sherri, who is still trying to find someone good enough to dethrone her former charge/lover. Michaels’ former partner Marty Jannetty tried a few months prior at the Rumble but failed. Tatanka has been on an undefeated streak since starting his run in 1992, and comes into this match with TWO pinfall wins over Michaels, one in a singles non-title match and the other as part of a six-man tag team contest.

Michaels tries to wrestle Tatanka to the ground at the start, but Tatanka easily fights him off and shows off some great athleticism by bridging out of a top wristlock. Tatanka sends Michaels to the floor and repeatedly chops him back to the floor when he runs around the ring trying to re-enter. Michaels catches Tatanka with a poke to the eye and flies in with a sort-of sunset flip for a two-count. Tatanka goes after Michaels’ left shoulder, apparently the same one dislocated in the six-man tag team match, countering a corner float-over with a nasty shoulderbreaker. I hope Papa Shango was taking notes for the…five seconds he would still be in the WWF at this point. Michaels finally catches a break, countering a flying tomahawk chop with a “Crescent Kick” aka superkick aka Sweet Chin Music but it’s not his finisher yet, I guess. Either way it’s a cool spot. Michaels goes to work, including a flying clothesline from the apron to the floor and a swinging neckbreaker, but can’t put his challenger down so he settles into a chinlock. Michaels ignores all the work done to his shoulder but commentary steps up and talks about how he’s just “gutting” through it, which is a nice cover. Tatanka revs up with a war dance and connects with a series of chops, a Tomahawk, and a flying crossbody for the 1…2…NOPE. Tatanka sends Michaels into the post and counters a flying crossbody with a powerslam but still HBK finds a way to kick out. Michaels sends Tatanka to the floor and MISSES a crossbody, hitting the apron/steps instead. Michaels pulls the ref out of the ring before he can count to ten, or as he counted to ten I guess, and attacks Tatanka, Tatanka hits the End of the Trail but the ref regretfully informs him that the match is already over…by countout?

Tatanka defeated Shawn Michaels [c] via countout; Michaels retains the WWF INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP (18:16)

  • A little long in the tooth with a dumb finish that made little sense (looked more like a DQ situation than a countout situation, Michaels PULLED THE REF OUT OF THE RING). I enjoyed pieces of it, the opening few minutes and Tatanka’s comeback offense at the end stuck out in particular, but overall it’s a match you can fast forward through and not miss too much. Still love both these guys though, especially Tatanka. This website is pro-Tatanka.

After the match Luna beats the ever-loving SH*T out of Sherri, clotheslining & slamming her on the floor. Tatanka chases her off and checks on Sherri alongside officials. We find out later that Luna attacks Sherri once again in the first aid tent, so it comes off like the WWF is going to have a women’s match on their hands. Not sure if it happened on TV but it certainly never did on PPV.

”Mean” Gene Okerlund interviews The Steiner Brothers, who say they will be making their first WrestleMania one to remember. This might be their only WrestleMania which feels weird to say.

The Steiner Brothers (Rick & Scott Steiner) vs. The Headshrinkers (Samu & Fatu) [w/ Afa]

Both teams are relatively new to the Fed having debuted in late-1992 but they are no strangers to each other as they had some battles in WCW years prior when The Headshrinkers went by The Samoan SWAT Team. We also get another first as Ross goes ahead and calls this one a “slobberknocker” which I believe is the first utterance of that word by him in WWF/E history.

Fatu shoves Scott, Scott takes him to the mat with a double leg and wraps him in an armbar. They shove each other some more and trade forearms, Scott turns Fatu inside out with a Steinerline. Headshrinkers send the Steiners to the floor, Rick & Scott come back in with a double Stinerline from the same top turnbuckle and clear the ring right back. HELL YEAH. Steiners continue offensive control for a few minutes until Scott is thrown for a Stun Gun but APPEARS TO MISS THE TOP ROPE ENTIRELY AND CRASHES HEAD-FIRST ON THE FLOOR. Afa doesn’t make it any better, cracking Scott with his bamboo/kendo/Singapore stick/cane, making a sound so loud the ref…ignores it anyway because it happened behind his back. Headshrinkers work Scott Steiner over for a bit, Fatu hits a flying headbutt from the middle buckle but Rick makes the pinfall save. Scott counters Samu with a faceslam but this is “SAMOAN SKULL IS THICK” era of wrestling so Samu hops right back up and superkicks the taste right out of his mouth. Optics on the Samoan skull thing isn’t great but that spot f*cking ruled. Rick Steiner gets the hot tag and unloads on the Headshrinkers with Steinerlines and backdrops; however the double noggin knocker fails miserably and he gets dropped with a double headbutt. Fatu puts Rick on his shoulders for what could be a Doomsday Device but RICK CATCHES SAMU ON THE WAY DOWN WITH A POWERSLAM OFF FATU’S SHOULDERS and somehow that’s only a two-count. Scott Steiner tags back in and tosses Fatu with a belly-to-bell suplex and finishes Samu off with a Frankensteiner for the 1…2…3.

The Steiner Brothers defeated The Headshrinkers via pinfall (14:22)

  • A certified BANGER, completely unexpected but very welcomed. Two big teams throwing each other around and trying to kick each other’s heads off, I f*cking loved it. Steiner Brothers never felt right in the WWF, their style seemed way too different, but I’m glad it happened if only for being able to get random awesome matches like this. Match of the show for me, for sure. Too bad we have so much more to go.

”Mean” Gene Okerlund interviews Doink The Clown, who has turned the Caesar bust into a clown (wonder why). After a replay of Doink’s attack on his upcoming opponent, Doink ominously declares that by the end of tonight Crush will be seeing double.

Crush vs. Doink The Clown

Doink made his debut in late-1992 as an evil clown, playing mean pranks on people in the crowd as well as random wrestlers after their matches. Crush finally had enough and “injured” Doink by grabbing his arm too hard; he appeared in a cast after and asked for a truce; when Crush turned his back Doink revealed his arm was okay and beat him down with a plaster cast of an arm, taking Crush out of the Royal Rumble. 

Crush doesn’t even wait for Doink to get in the ring, slamming him on the floor and sending him into the post. Doink takes a beating for a little longer but eventually mounts some offense of his own, including a piledriver and scoop slam as Crush takes bumps meant for people much smaller than him. Crush clotheslines Doink to the floor and prevents him from crawling under the ring. He locks in the Head Vice but the ref gets bumped. Doink once again escapes and tries to crawl under the ring, Crush pulls him back out and reapplies the Head Vice but DOINK 2 appears and knocks Crush out with the plaster arm cast. The two Doinks do a little magic mirror then Doink 2 disappears under the ring and Doink 1 covers for the 1…2…3.

Doink The Clown defeated Crush via pinfall (8:28)

  • HOW F*CKING GOOD WAS ORIGINAL OG DOINK? What a great idea, executed beautifully by Matt Borne (RIP). A wrestling clown sounds so stupid on paper, and ended up BEING stupid later on, but initially it was so well-done. I liked this match a lot, from Crush trying to rip Doink apart to Doink showing off power & wrestling skill that people forget he had since he’s mostly, ahem, CLOWNING AROUND. Is adding a second Doink overkill? Absolutely. I hate that. But at the same time the magic mirror posing popped me huge so maybe I didn’t hate that as much as I thought. Your mileage may vary but goddamn I enjoyed this.

A second ref comes out to tell the first ref about the second Doink; they check under the ring but Doink 2 has DISAPPEARED. Amazing.

Todd Pettengill, wearing a toga and a backwards hat, tries to interview a couple of Japanese photographers about two Doinks and Yokozuna but language barrier “comedy” ensues.

Bob Backlund vs. Razor Ramon

A decade after leaving the company following his loss of the WWF Championship to The Iron Sheik, Backlund made his surprise return to the company and set a record at the Royal Rumble a few months prior for longest entrant. Ramon also ended up with a crummy Rumble, coming up short in his WWF Championship match against Bret Hart. Now these two are…treading water I guess.

Backlund offers a handshake, Ramon gives him a toothpick to the face instead and the Vegas crowd immediately launches into LOUD “Razor!” chants. Savage takes this moment to mention that Lex Luger laid Bret Hart out earlier in the day at the WrestleMania IX brunch which we’ll talk about at some point in this recap. Backlund gets most of the offense in, including a walk-around atomic drop, but Ramon gets the last laugh with a surprise cradle and the victory.

Razor Ramon defeated Bob Backlund via pinfall (3:45)

  • Pointless filler match with a surprise finish. Second PPV in a row that Ramon’s opponent wouldn’t take the Razor’s Edge. Why even have a finishing move, am I right? I dunno at least it was short, I guess.

”Mean” Gene Okerlund interviews Money Inc. (Ted DiBiase & Irwin R. Schyster). DiBiase talks about Vegas being their town, because money, and IRS says that Brutus Beefcake’s face is going to look like a jigsaw puzzle with missing pieces when they’re done with him. They also tease that Hulk Hogan is also having issues following an “attack” outside the gym the night before. Hmmm.

Money Inc. (“The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase & Irwin R. Schyster) [c] vs. The Mega Maniacs (Hulk Hogan & Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake) [w/ “The Mouth of the South” Jimmy Hart] for the WWF TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP

After having to spend nearly three years on the sidelines due to reconstructive surgery stemming from a parasailing accident, Brutus Beefcake made his emotional return to the ring…and was immediately targeted by Money Inc. who tried to re-break his face with a steel Halliburton briefcase. This not only brought the ire of Jimmy Hart, who stopped managing them and joined the babyface side for the first time in his career out of disgust, but of Beefer’s best friend Hulk Hogan who made his big WWF return to join him as part of The Mega Maniacs to get revenge and potentially the World Tag Team Titles. Beefcake is sporting a metal faceguard in the shape of Ultimate Warrior’s facepaint for this one while Hogan’s left eye has stitches and looks F*CKED up for real. Jeez I wonder what actually happened. 

Money Inc. try to attack the Mega Maniacs before the bell but get tossed out on their asses so Hogan can conclude his shirt-ripping routine. Crowd is eating it UP too, for what it’s worth. Things turn into a regular tag team match which means A WHOLE MINUTE OF STALLING from Money Inc. as soon as the bell sounds. They try to attack Beefcake’s face but DiBiase hurts his hand on the metal faceplate and both he and IRS turn into pinballs for The Mega Maniacs to bounce around and back out to the floor. Feeling defeated already the champs try to leave but the referee, being the piece of sh*t that he is, says if they lose by countout they’ll also lose the titles. Real jerkstore stuff there, pal. Money Inc. eventually gain the offensive edge, as Hogan plays the rare role of Ricky Morton for his team, DiBiase & IRS using all sorts of underhanded tactics to weaken him. DiBiase knocks Hogan out with the Million Dollar Dream, Beefcake runs in and knocks DiBiase out with a sleeperhold so everybody is out cold.

Beefer gets the hot tag and hits a series of moves but the Halliburton comes into play and soon enough DiBiase finally gets the mask off his face, making every strike that much more punishing. Beefcake connects with a double clothesline on Money Inc. and locks in a Sleeperhold on IRS, DiBiase clubs him and the ref gets bumped in the melee too. They still go by tag team rules though and Hulk Hogan gets the second hot tag of the match, hitting both DiBiase and IRS with Beefcake’s metal mask. He makes the cover but there’s no ref so JIMMY HART DECIDES TO DO IT HIMSELF BY TURNING HIS JACKET INSIDE OUT, REVEALING REF STRIPES. He makes the three-count but obviously it doesn’t matter. A second referee comes out and suddenly decides that Money Inc. has won by disqualification. HEH?

Money Inc. [c] defeated The Mega Maniacs via DQ to retain the WWF TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP (18:50 or so, I didn’t hear an ending bell)

  • I’m assuming the second referee DQed Hogan for using the mask but since he wasn’t the official at the time that shouldn’t have been his call to make. Hell the first referee not letting Money Inc. walk when it’s well within their right as champions to do so was also not his call to make. Lots of bad officiating here, leading to an overbooked and dull match with a f*ck finish so nobody’s feelings got hurt (brother). Crowd seemed to pop for a lot of it though so maybe it’s just my dumb fan brain getting in the way. Side note I think I’m coming around on the belief that Money Inc. were possibly the most boring tag team in the WWF circa 80s and 90s that got a title run. Their matches are either dullsville or unwatchable, with the possible exception of SummerSlam ‘92. Strange. I remember liking them but now sitting through their matches feels like torture. 

Jimmy Hart throws the second referee, former heel “Dangerous” Danny Davis, out of the ring and The Mega Maniacs celebrate LOSING by posing, strutting, and throwing the money they found inside the Halliburton to the people at ringside who probably don’t need as badly as people who purchased tickets in the nosebleeds. 

Todd Pettingill has a brief awkward interview with Natalie Cole in the crowd then talks with Caesar’s Palace CEO Dan Reichartz who brags about all the events his casino has held over the years, calling WrestleMania the one with the most energy. Aw, thanks Dad.

”Mean” Gene Okerlund interviews Mr. Perfect who cannot get Lex Luger’s name right to save his life. A rare slip-up from an otherwise Perfect competitor and it’s very endearing.

Mr. Perfect vs. “The Narcissist” Lex Luger

Luger initially joined McMahon’s World Bodybuilding Federation in 1992 after leaving WCW, looking for a much-easier gig than the one he had. The company ended up folding though and Luger rejoined the wrestling ranks, debuting a few months prior at Royal Rumble as “The Narcissist” in a memorable segment. The gimmick is 90s-level lame which means it works for me and he’s got a GREAT entrance here, with scantily clad women holding up pyro-spewing mirrors all around him. Mr. Perfect returned to the ring at Survivor Series ‘92 and after chasing former employer “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair out of the company has been looking for his next feud. He’s landed here for the time being. Commentators continue bringing up Luger’s attack on Bret Hart earlier in the day and honestly it kinda feels like they’re sowing seeds for Hart’s potential next challenger/opponent. It doesn’t exactly go this way but I think Hart/Luger could have been a cool program if things didn’t get so…dumb. 

Perfect strikes first with a kneelift and grabs a side headlock. Luger whips him off, Perfect leapfrogs and connects with a picture-perfect dropkick that sends Luger scrambling for the safety of the floor. Perfect works the knee of Luger and also throws in some chops that are SO LOUD even Ross groans on commentary. Pre-”WOO” days so you get to really enjoy the whip crack sounds of hand meeting flesh. That made me sound like a psycho, huh? Luger uses his power to throw Perfect into the corner so hard that he flips out to the canvas on impact, then goes to work on the lower back, which is the same area that kept Perfect out of competition for so long. The two trade nearfalls, then Perfect goes on a comeback string of offense including A MISSILE DROPKICK but somehow Luger continues to kick out of every pinfall attempt. The two fight over a backslide, Luger pulls Perfect over to the canvas for the 1…2…Perfect’s legs are in the ropes but the ref doesn’t see it…3!

Lex Luger defeated Mr. Perfect via pinfall (10:56)

  • Initially this match underwhelmed me but after sleeping on it I realized that I liked it a lot more than I realized. Not sure what that was about. This was a solid match and a great PPV debut for Luger; he had a helluva dancing partner in Mr. Perfect who still took some crazy bumps despite all the injuries and even threw in a missile dropkick for added pizzazz (that the camera almost missed, tbh). The finish, like a lot of these matches, was a little goofy to give Perfect an out but overall I dug it.

Luger lays Perfect out with his “illegal” steel-plated elbow and leaves the ring. Perfect wakes up and after realizing the disrespect rushes to the backstage where he attacks Luger. Shawn Michaels, who got shoved to the side moments before, attacks Perfect with trash cans and brooms and it looks like we’ve got the next feud for both of them. 

The Undertaker [w/ Paul Bearer] vs. Giant Gonzalez [w/ Harvey Wippleman]

Fresh off his run in WCW, the WWF decided to turn the former El Gigante into a…Sasquatch I guess as Giant Gonzalez, complete with an airbrushed muscle bodysuit with fake hair. It was a…stupid idea looking back at now but when he debuted at the Royal Rumble and made mincemeat out of The Undertaker I was terrified. It worked. Also stick around for the thought portion of this match because I’m going to tell you right now: I’m PRO-Giant Gonzalez/El Gigante.

Gonzalez clubs Taker repeatedly to start, but Taker gets right back up and connects with rights. Gonzalez chokes Taker, Taker climbs the middle rope and chokes back but that gets broken up with a low-blow. Gonzalez follows up with a clothesline and big boot, Undertaker connects with whatever he called Old School back in 1993. Gonzalez tosses Taker to the floor and into the steps, but the power of the urn keeps him from staying down which frightens and confuses the big man. Taker fights back and gets Gonzalez down to one knee, but Wippleman hops the apron to distract. Taker attacks Wippleman, Gonzalez attacks Bearer then SMOTHERS UNDERTAKER WITH A CHLOROFORM-SOAKED RAG and the ref calls for a DQ. The…f*ck?

The Undertaker defeated Giant Gonzalez via DQ (7:32)

  • Yet another awful finish in a show that didn’t need more of them. That aside though this is NOT NEARLY as bad as people have made it out to be over the years. There’s this perpetual myth, one that I’ve spread at different points of my fandom, that Jorge Gonzalez was next-level awful, but he was absolutely fine here. Dude was a 7’7” monster and did monster things like choke and clobber, the f*ck else you expect him to do? He was a big motherf*cker that was awe-inspiring to see in a ring and played his role admirably. I’m pro-Giant Gonzalez, I don’t give a f*ck. That said f*ck the finish of the match, and f*ck most of the finishes of the matches.

”Mean” Gene Okerlund shows clips of Yokozuna putting “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan out of commission and attacking Bret Hart last week during their contract signing, then invites Hulk Hogan to comment on the matter. Hogan says he’s 100% behind Bret and knows he can do it and also challenges the winner (Bret or “THE JAP”) to a WWF Championship match. Oh boy how did we NOT see this coming?

Bret “The Hitman” Hart [c] vs. Yokozuna [w/ Mr. Fuji] for the WWF CHAMPIONSHIP

Yoko earned the championship opportunity by winning the 1993 Royal Rumble, last eliminating Randy Savage. This is the first time a WrestleMania title shot was up for grabs at the event, creating a tradition that continues to this day. Hart won the WWF Championship in the fall of 1992 at a house show in Saskatoon, defeating “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair, and has defeated all comers so far.

Yoko gets into sumo position, Hart sends him spiraling into the corner with a running dropkick and the champ puts the fists to him in the corner. Yoko sends Hart to the floor, Hart traps his foot between the middle and bottom rope and gets more shots in as the crowd goes nuts, including a flying forearm from the middle buckle. Yoko goes on the offense following a clothesline and a legdrop across the face. Yoko settles into a nervehold (MEH) after a superkick, crowd chants “USA!” which Heenan laughs about since the match is between two people not from the United States. Hart dodges a corner splash and rides Yoko to the mat with a flying bulldog for the 1…2…Yoko kicks out. Hart rips off the top turnbuckle while Yoko pulls him out of the corner; this works out for Hart moments later as he sends Yoko head-first into the steel. Hart goes to the fallen Yokozuna and manages to lock in the Sharpshooter to the surprise of everyone, but it’s broken up thanks to a handful of salt to the eyes from Fuji that ref misses, Yoko then covers for the 1…2…3!

Yokozuna defeated Bret Hart [c] via pinfall to win the WWF CHAMPIONSHIP (8:55)

  • Bret has said over the years, including on Yoko’s Icon episode on the WWE Network, that they had a much longer and intricate match planned but Yoko got gassed early so they cut most of it out. I wonder what that match would’ve been like; there were shades of cool things, Hart’s inventive ways to get offense in on his much larger opponent were great, but overall it just felt too quick and forgettable.

Hulk Hogan comes out to check on Bret Hart and protest. Fuji gets on the mic and challenges Hogan on behalf of Yoko RIGHT NOW for the WWF Championship. Hogan is reluctant until Hart tells him to go for it and he rolls into the ring.

Yokozuna [c] [w/ Mr. Fuji] vs. Hulk Hogan for the WWF CHAMPIONSHIP

Yoko holds Hogan but Hogan dodges the salt and Fuji blinds the champ instead. Hogan clears Fuji then drops Yoko with a clothesline and Big Legdrop for the 1…2…3!

Hulk Hogan defeated Yokozuna [c] via pinfall to win the WWF CHAMPIONSHIP (0:20)

  • I absolutely hated this but the crowd seemed to love it so that’s cool? I don’t know. This feels disrespectful to the planned main event and a very obvious step back in direction that ultimately goes nowhere and helps no one but the Hulkster himself.

Hulk Hogan celebrates and poses with the WWF Championship as the show concludes.

*****

FINAL THOUGHTS

WrestleMania IX is chock-full of bullsh*t finishes and filler matches, and in a lot of ways deserves its reputation as one of the worst Manias of all-time. For me though…I didn’t find it all that awful to sit through. I have A LOT of gripes with the booking and the lack of backbone on getting clean finishes but for the most part I had a good time with each match, save for Bret/Yoko and Hogan/Yoko. Plus the show has a legitimate sleeper banger in Steiner Brothers vs. Headshrinkers which I think everyone should watch as well as a super fun (to me) match/storyline with Crush and Doink The Clown. Your mileage may, and probably does, vary, but I did not hate WrestleMania IX despite the fact that there’s objectively bad stuff all over the show. I’m surprised about it too.

  • FAVORITE MATCH: The Steiner Brothers vs. The Headshrinkers
  • FAVORITE MOMENT: Mr. Perfect endearingly messes up Lex Luger’s name

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