JC’s Top Rope Report: Appreciating Wrestlemania 8

We’re a week away from Wrestlemania. Over the next week, I plan on having a handful of Wrestlemania related pieces out. My first one is a look back at one of my personal favorites, Wrestlemania 8.

At the time, the belief going into this show was that we would get the long awaited Hulk Hogan/Ric Flair match every wrestling fan wanted to see. But that never happened. The story is the two didn’t work well together at house shows. But I highly doubt that is the case. My guess is that neither man wanted to lose to the other. But the same DQ finish that happened in Sid/Hogan could have happened with Flair/Hogan. The match didn’t even have to be for the Title.

You could have also done Randy Savage/Jake Roberts here. The feud was hot at the time and it could have been built up to a huge grudge match. That would have left a title match of Sid (likely as Champ) defending against The Undertaker. Does Taker win in this scenario? Imagine if that happened and he didn’t win. We would have never had The Streak to talk about.

But even without the mega card that didn’t happen, we still got an outstanding show. There’s a couple of slow parts after the Title match, but the rest of the show and the ending of the main event are good. And the commentary of Bobby Heenan and Gorilla Monsoon is at its all time best.

Tito Santana vs Shawn Michaels w/Sensational Sherri

-After Reba McIntyre sings the anthem, Tito Santana meets her at the steps. Heenan thinks she is Tito’s sister, Areeeba McIntyre.

-Great exchange between Monsoon and Heenan on Sensational Sherri:

Heenan: What a looker

Monsoon: You need to see your oculist.

Heenan: There’s nothing wrong with my feet.

Monsoon: I’m talking about your eyes.

Heenan: You’re just jealous because she turned you down.

-Tito goes for a side headlock. Gorilla points out that you aren’t going to beat a lot of people with that. Heenan says he has. Gorilla asks if it was in his sleep. Heenan says he once had a guy give up during instructions.

-Tito escapes a headlock, but Michaels catches Santana with a superkick. But this is early 1992 Shawn Michaels, so he doesn’t go for the pin.

-Santana tries to pick Michaels off the apron and bring him back inside, but Santana awkwardly falls and Michaels uses his body weight to fall on Santana and pick up the win. Somewhat of an awkward match. It had a lot of rest spots too, which I find weird for these two.

-An interview at Wrestlemania? That’s what we get with the Legion of Doom. And they come out with Paul Ellering, their long time manager. This never went anywhere. Eventually L.O.D. were given a dummy named Rocco. It was all downhill after this.

Jake “The Snake” Roberts vs The Undertaker w/Paul Bearer

-Of course we know the behind the scenes story with this match now: A spot on the writing team opened up when Pat Patterson retired, Jake felt he was promised a spot when one opened up. Vince told Jake they weren’t filling the spot out of due respect to Pat Patterson, so Jake held Vince up. Jake demanded his release or he wasn’t going out there. Jake left for WCW.

-Gorilla talks about the eerie smell of formaldehyde that follows The Undertaker around. Heenan thought it was Gorilla’s cologne, because he always buys the cheap stuff to get a free comb.

-Remember when face turns were simple. Taker stopped Jake from hitting Randy Savage and Elizabeth with a chair. In a funeral parlor segment, Roberts asks what side Taker is on. Taker says “Not yours.” Boom.

-This match has a slow pace but it makes sense. Roberts goes for some strikes early but Taker no sells them. Taker then hits some offensive moves.

-Heenan: “Do you know how Paul Bearer got that urn? He earned it!”

-Roberts hits a DDT, FROM OUT OF NOWHERE, but Taker gets up. Roberts hits a short clothesline then another DDT. But Roberts goes for Paul Bearer. Taker gets up again and hits a Tombstone on Roberts on the outside. Taker gets the pinfall in the ring for the win.

-That was a great way to get The Undertaker over and props to Roberts for putting Taker over like that. With everything that went on backstage, Jake could have easily been a dick. But he was a professional and did the job.

Intercontinental Championship: Rowdy Roddy Piper (c) vs Bret Hart

-Seeing two faces go one-on-one was very rare during these times.

-Piper tries to go to the mat early, but Bret counters and tosses him to the outside. Piper is hot and shoves Hart.

-Bret falls on his shoulder and sells an injury. The ref checks on him, but Bret goes for a small package. Now Hart shows some heel mannerisms.

-This time it’s Piper with a heel move. He tells Bret his pad is down and Piper lands a punch.

-Bret blades after a bulldog. He didn’t get in trouble for it because he said it was an accident but there’s no way it was.

-After a double clothesline Piper goes to the top, but Bret was playing possum again and he crotches Piper. Bret lands a handful of offensive moves before Piper catches Bret coming off the ropes with a boot to the face.

-Piper goes to toss Bret into the corner but the ref is in the way. Piper grabs the bell. Heenan: “Use it! Waffle him with it! Remember the old saying, What the hell use the bell! Give it to me I’ll hit him.” Piper doesn’t use it though.

-Piper applies the sleeper, but Bret gets his feet up on the turnbuckle, and uses his momentum to keep Piper’s shoulders down to get the pin and win the IC Title. Great match and the crowd was into it throughout. Both men showed they were willing to pull out all the stops to win. Piper congratulates Bret afterwards.

-One thing I saw in another review that I absolutely agree with. The first three matches all saw stars from the 80s (Tito Santana, Jake Roberts, Roddy Piper) put over up and coming stars from the 90s (Shawn Michaels, The Undertaker, Bret Hart). Nowadays we are lucky to get one of those types of matches a year. Vince has too much of a liking for his guys from the past.

-Lex Luger is interviewed by Bobby Heenan and Gorilla Monsoon via satellite. They talk about the WBF. We all know how that ended.

The Nasty Boys, The Mountie and Repo Man vs Sgt. Slaughter, Virgil, Big Boss Man and Hacksaw Jim Duggan

-Ray Combs, the host of Family Feud at the time, is the guest ring announcer. He rips on the heel team. It’s actually pretty funny.

-After the faces clear the ring of the heels, Bobby Heenan has a special announcement: Shawn Michaels has left the building! Nowadays, Shawn would be punished and buried in the mid-card for that!

-Hacksaw gets a USA chant going. Heenan: “Do you know why they are chanting USA? There’s a rumor that Indianapolis is a foreign country.”

-All hell breaks lose. Virgil ends up scoring the pinfall on Knobbs to pick up the win, even though Knobbs wasn’t the legal man. Fun little time killer.

WWF Championship: Ric Flair (c) w/Mr. Perfect vs “Macho Man” Randy Savage

-This feud was built on Flair saying he dated Elizabeth before Savage and had revealing pin-ups of her. We never see those photos during the show. They were later shown in WWF Magazine, and then another article showed they were photo shopped by Flair.

-Savage attacks Flair on the outside to start the match. Mr. Perfect grabs Savage from behind and throws him off Flair.

-Flair takes control early as Heenan gloats on commentary.

-Savage finally shows some signs of life. He lands some punches in the corner then catches Flair with a reverse neckbreaker. Flair goes to the top but Savage catches him with a powerslam as Heenan screams to Flair to get out of the ring.

-Savage clotheslines Flair to the outside. Savage goes to the top and hits a double axe handle and Flair goes into the rail and is caught on camera blading. Flair would get fined for that.

-Macho Man hits the Elbow but Mr. Perfect pulls Savage off. No DQ though. Mr. Perfect hits Savage with a chair in the leg.

-Elizabeth comes to ringside as Ric Flair applies the Figure Four. Officials (including a young Shane McMahon) try to get her to leave but she is having none of it.

-Heenan: “She’s clapping for Ric Flair!”

-Flair to Elizabeth: “This is for you baby. Woooo!” Heenan: “She winked at him did you see it!”

-Flair goes for the Figure Four again, but Savage counters into a roll-up, hooks the tights, and picks up the win to become the new WWF Champion.

-After the match Flair confronts Elizabeth. He kisses her so Elizabeth slaps him a few times then Savage jumps him. They brawl until officials finally break it up.

-This was just a great story told from start to finish. Flair dominated the early part of the match, and when Savage tried to make his comeback, the heels did everything to stop him. And they finally get a taste of their own medicine when Savage hooks the tights to pick up the win. I don’t mind the outside interference because I’ve always been of the belief that Title matches should only be won by pinfall or submission.

-Flair, Perfect and Heenan all rant about Savage grabbing the tights after. Of course, they don’t talk about their own cheating during the match. They say Flair has never taken a shortcut before. Great heel promo.

Tatanka vs Rick Martel

-Bobby Heenan comes back and gives a statement on everything that happened. Monsoon continues to call him a liar. Heenan then wants to fight Monsoon.

-Heenan: “Did you ever say hello to Tatanka?”

Monsoon; “Yes.”

Heenan: “Did you do it properly?”

Monsoon: “Yes.”

Heenan: “So you said “Hey how are ya, hey how are ya?”

-Monsoon and Heenan go back and forth about Ric Flair. Meanwhile, Tatanka picks up the win. I don’t think Tatanka ever got over like the WWF wished he did at the time.

WWF Tag Team Championship: Money Inc. (c) vs The Natural Disasters

-Money Inc was the perfect use of Ted DiBiase and IRS at this time period and they made a good tag team.

-The crowd is still warn out from the WWF Title match. They just don’t care much for this one. I don’t think the Natural Disasters were ever that over to begin with.

-Earthquake gets the tag and starts to clean house, but Money Inc bails and the Disasters get a countout victory.

Skinner vs Owen Hart

-Skinner spits his chewing tobacco into Owen after he does a flip off the top. Owen wins in under a minute with a roll-up. I’m assuming time was cut from this match, and that’s why it was this short. A British Bulldog/Berzerker match was cut from the card all together.

Sid Justice vs Hulk Hogan

-In retrospect, it’s funny that this was built up as Hogan’s last possible match. In 1992. Of course, this was mostly a way to get Hogan some time away from the WWF with the steroid scandal/trial going on.

-I’ve always been a Sid fan. Was he the greatest worker in the world? No. But he had a great look and his charisma was very visible. His promos were good too when he was on his mark and didn’t screw up.

-Hogan gets a pretty good cheer after getting booed rather loudly at the Royal Rumble a few months prior.

-Sid dominates the early part of the match before Hogan lands some blows. Sid goes outside to get a breather.

-It’s a battle of strength between both men. That’s pretty much all this match has been.

-Sid chokeslams Hogan and Hogan sells it like he’s been electrocuted.

-Sid has now had a nerve hold applied to the neck of Hogan for a good 3 minutes.

-Powerbomb to Hogan. Again, you would think Hogan was electrocuted. Hogan kicks out at 2 and hulks up.

-Big boot from Hogan, then a bodyslam and leg drop. But Sid kicks out at 2 because Papa Shango misses his cue. Harvey Whippleman comes in, but Hogan tosses him into Sid. Heenan says they’re playing catch with Whippleman.

-Papa Shango and Sid attack Hogan, but out comes the Ultimate Warrior. A much slimmer Warrior. Hogan clotheslines Shango out of the ring. Sid hits Warrior with a chair, but Hogan takes it away from him. Hogan wins via DQ as Hogan and Warrior celebrate to close the show.

-The ending to the show didn’t mean much in the long run. Hogan was gone right after. Sid was fired about a month later. Warrior and Papa Shango would go on to have a feud that was pure Wrestlecrap.

-This is one of my Top 5 favorite Wrestlemania as I said above. For me, #1 is WM19 and #2 is WM17. After that I wouldn’t have a set order, but WM8 is definitely in the Top 5. The first half of the show is great. It drags a little after the WWF Title Match, but the ending brings the crowd completely back and puts a nice bow on the show, and really a whole era in the WWF. Hogan would have one more run in 1993 for a few months, but he was done for the rest of 1992. The WWF would go on to push the likes of Shawn Michaels, The Undertaker and Bret Hart in their top spots. And enough cannot be said about the commentary of Gorilla Monsoon and Bobby Heenan here. Their jabs at one another and Heenan losing it after the WWF Title match are great. It’s a nice, simple wrestling show. And sometimes that works best.

Until Next Time,

Justin C

Follow Me On Twitter @JCWonka