Welcome back to the Stinker zone!
We’ve got another reader request this time, as JLA JRC wanted me to set the way back machine to 1993 in order look at this show. For those not au fait with this series, I watch a show that has a reputation for being bad and decide whether it deserves that stinky reputation or not.
Mania IX is widely regarded as one of the weaker Mania events overall (although it does have its fans) with the event taking place in a car park and the show being one of the first occasions that the WWF really dropped the ball with Bret Hart as a Main Eventer.
However, maybe time will have been kind to it? I know there are a couple of matches on here that I’m interested to watch again at least. I’ll be watching the Silvervision home video version, so if there’s anything from the WWE Network version that I don’t cover then that will likely be why.
The event is emanating from Las Venturas, San Andreas on the 4th of April 1993
Calling the action are Jim Ross, Bobby Heenan and Randy Savage
We actually get the thirty minute pre-show as part of the video tape, with Sean Mooney in the WWF video centre. To be honest, looking at the card there was a genuine possibility that this could be a decent show if all the moving parts came together and the booking was on point. Bam Bam Bigelow Vs Kamala is hyped as part of the pre-show package, but I don’t think it actually ends up happening.
We start off with some footage of Yokozuna squishing some enhancement talent. It’s a very effective way of making him look like a big scary man. We then get some footage of Yoko giving Bret the Bonzai Drop during a contract signing. This would have been a great angle if Bret was to come back and get his revenge at the show but, well, you know.
Next up we’ve got a hype package for Money Inc. Vs The Mega Maniacs. Brutus Beefcake returned from getting his face broken but Ted Dibiase and IRS gave him a vicious beating, leading to their manager Jimmy Hart deciding he didn’t want to be associated with them anymore. Hart is now a babyface and will be managing Hogan and Beefcake in their quest for revenge. Jimmy Hart as the babyface manager for Hulk Hogan didn’t really work, mainly because they didn’t bother giving Money Inc. a new manager for him to do stuff with in the feud. Hogan kind of felt a bit out of place in the Raw Era actually, so him leaving for WCW in 1994 was probably a good call on his part. They dedicated the most hype on the pre-show to this one for whatever reason.
We get some hype for Shawn Michaels Vs Tatanka next. The story is pretty simple with this one. Tatanka is undefeated and has defeated IC Champ Shawn Michaels twice in Non-Title matches, so tonight he’s got a chance to make it a trifecta with the Title on the line. We get footage of Tatanka’s two wins. This was a decent little package.
Another match that gets hyped is Giant Gonzalez Vs The Undertaker. Gonzalez is a gangly big bloke who entered the WWF in January and cost The Undertaker the Royal Rumble at the behest of Harvey Wippleman, so Taker is now looking for revenge. Just your standard Undertaker Vs Wacky Monster feud, with Gonzalez being a notably awful wrestler making it worse than usual. They just show the Rumble beat down here, with Gonzalez giving Undertaker a really lousy looking Choke Slam.
Next on the hype block is Lex Luger Vs Mr. Perfect. Luger is an arrogant narcissist who likes looking at himself in the mirror. He says he’s beyond perfection, which makes him a natural foe for Mr. Perfect. This was one of those feuds where you would hope they could have some good matches at least, but it never really worked out that way. The main footage we get here is Luger showing off his muscles to an unimpressed Mr. Perfect. This was a pretty cheesy segment but it got across the two opposing personalities well at least.
Next up we get a video package to hype up Doink Vs Crush, as Doink batters Crush with a loaded fake arm, in one of those heavy heat angles that would have been much better had it been with someone other than Crush. Don’t get me wrong, Crush was over as a mid-card babyface, but he wasn’t the guy to have the hot feud ending bout you’d want following a big angle like that.
We get the opening video package, complete with Vince McMahon destroying his vocal chords during the voice over.
Gorilla Monsoon joins us in a toga, as they’ve given this an Ancient Rome theme and everyone has dressed up. Jim Ross runs down the card, showing some good charisma in the process, and sends to Finkus Maximus to introduce Caesar and Cleopatra. I assume the Caesar in question is supposed to be Julius? He looks a little too trim and smooth to be Nero I’m thinking. Randy Savage is next out with some vestal virgins, whilst Heenan is out next on the back of a camel. He of course commits to the bit by looking as stupid as possible whilst doing so, and it’s hilarious as a result.
WWF Intercontinental Title
Champ: Shawn Michaels w/ Luna Vachon Vs Tatanka w/ Sensational Sherri
Tatanka had been inserted into a feud with Shawn after Marty Jannetty had “Marty’d” things up for himself again following the Royal Rumble. Sherri had been Shawn’s previous manager, so she’s here in an effort to make sure Luna can’t help the Champ. Luna and Shawn wouldn’t be teamed up together for long and Luna would soon move on to Bam Bam Bigelow whilst Shawn would bring in Diesel as his backup.
Shawn is working hard here and the crowd is into seeing Tatanka shine on him to start. The show does have an interesting look with whole Roman theme and it seems like they’ve got a decent amount of actual wrestling fans in the car park to watch it, which helps with atmosphere considerably. Shawn has a previously separated shoulder, so Tatanka focuses on that with arm drags and arm bars to start, which makes sense from a storyline perspective and Shawn of course sells it all well.
They do a very clever spot at one stage where Shawn throws a clothesline but he can’t get full power behind it due to his shoulder, so Tatanka just shrugs it off and goes back to the attack. That was great from a psychology perspective, and the crowd recognised what they were doing and popped for it too. Shawn eventually manages to catch Tatanka with a desperation Super Kick though, which allows him to cut Tatanka of and work a bit of heat. Shawn’s actual finisher at the time was a high angle back suplex, and I don’t think he fully switched to the kick until 1995 when he feuded with Diesel.
Shawn looks good in the heat, with Tatanka selling well for his offence. Luna and Sherri have the odd brief interaction to keep that story point cooking for good measure. This has been a solidly worked match thus far, with both guys looking good and it hitting all the required storyline points. It’s not been up to the “Mr. WrestleMania” standards that Shawn would go on to set in later years, but it’s still a decent opener.
Tatanka eventually starts Hulking Up and the crowd gets into it, with Tatanka making a good fiery comeback that Shawn bumps, feeds and sells for perfectly. Tatanka gets a nice near fall with a cross body block that the crowd totally bites on, as they do again when he gets a roll up following a catapult into the corner. The big downside for the match is that the finish is pretty lame, as they do a count out rather than a pin fall. It makes sense in that they didn’t want Tatanka to lose, but also didn’t want to change the belt. Starting a pay per view with such a flat finish is a questionable tactic though.
WINNER BY COUNT OUT: TATANKA
Good solidly worked match with a lame ending. Give that an actual finish and I might have rated it higher
Luna gets some cheap shots in on Sherri following the match to build to future clashes between the two of them whilst Shawn just walks off.
Mean Gene Okerlund is backstage with The Breakker Brothers, who say they’ll make Caesar proud tonight. Maybe they can dedicate their SummerSlam match to Napoleon Bonaparte whilst they’re at it, and don’t forget about giving Alexander The Great a shout out when they wrestle at Survivor Series!
The Headshrinkers (Samu and Fatu) w/ Afa Vs The Breakker Brothers (Scron and Bron Snr)
This match allows Jim Ross to work in “slobberknocker” for one of the first times of his WWF career I believe. This match should have really been the opener, as it’s a good match and it actually has a finish for good measure. The Breakker’s usually do well when wrestling other big lads who like to throw down, so this is a lot of fun if you like “mean guy” matches.
The Breakker’s get to shine on The Headshrinkers to start, with the crowd getting into their offence and popping when they both come off the stop with stereo shoulder tackles to their opponents. Scron ends up taking a terrifying bump to the floor at one stage when a Stun Gun attempt goes awry, but he’s more muscle than man so he manages to survive it with no ill effects and then sells for a bit in the ring following an Afa cheap shot.
Scron sells well during the heat actually, whilst The Headshrinkers do a good job of working him over. The heat segment maybe goes on for a little bit too long and they lose the crowd a little bit as a result, but aside from that this is a fun match and the crowd pops big when Bron Snr gets the hot tag and runs wild. Jim Ross is having so much fun calling this match on commentary whenever The Breakker’s are on offence too.
The finishing stretch is nicely done, with all four big blokes continuing to clobber and fling one another around with reckless abandon. Sadly the finishing move doesn’t quite land, as Scron gets the Franken-Breakker on Samu OUTTA NOWHERE but the execution is a little bit off. The crowd doesn’t mind too much and still cheers for the three count though.
WINNERS: THE BREAKKER BROTHERS
Another good match there, with the odd bit of sloppiness and an overly long heat segment being the only real critiques you could throw its way. I stand by my prior comment that this should have been the opener, with Shawn/Tatanka coming on after it
Luna attacks and beats up Sherri some more backstage, snarling and yelling in her own imitable way.
Mean Gene is backstage with Doink The Clown. Thankfully this is the awesome evil Matt Bourne version of the gimmick, so it’s all kinds of fun. He laughs about beating Crush up with a loaded prosthetic arm. Doink makes a gag about “double vision” which will prove to be important later.
Doink The Clown Vs Shaka Brah Cona Crush
They actually tell a good story here, with Crush being all mad due to the previous attack and clobbering Doink from pillar to post whilst Doink tries to desperately get a foothold in the match. Crush’s stuff doesn’t look too good sadly and the crowd doesn’t really bite on it, which hurts things a bit, but the match is structured in a way that makes sense given the storyline coming in.
Doink does eventually manage to work a bit of heat on Crush, but the crowd still doesn’t really care that much. Doink gets a nice safe looking piledriver at one stage and also does some good character work whilst working the heat, but ends up landing on a raised foot from Crush. Crush catches Doink with a power slam following that and then preps for the Cranium Crunch.
The ref ends up catching a stray elbow from Doink during that though, which leads to the hold getting broken. We then get the spot this match is remembered for, as another guy dressed as Doink runs in to rescue the real Doink with another loaded prosthetic arm, allowing Doink to get a three count from the revived ref.
I really didn’t mind this that much to be honest. The lack of crowd reactions was disappointing and Crush’s work wasn’t that great, but it told a good story and Doink bringing in some backup this way was totally in line with his character and made complete sense. I am an admitted big mark for that original Heel Doink character though, so your own personal mileage may vary
The original Doink scampers off following that whilst the refs look for the other Doink and can’t find him.
Todd Pettengill interviews a couple of Japanese photographers about the twin Doinks but they don’t understand him. Oh ho, is funny because they don’t speak the same language that we do. OSW Review has of course already immortalised this moment forevermore.
Razor Ramon Vs Bob Backlund
This is very much a styles clash. Neither guy was really doing much at this stage, although Ramon would do the 1-2-3 Kid angle not too soon after this and then turn babyface, whilst Backlund would hang around in the lower mid-card until going crazy in 1994 and getting a brief Main Event run out of it.
Interestingly there is a notable “Razor” chant from the crowd. These two don’t really work that well together and they kind of just have a match. It certainly doesn’t feel like a WrestleMania level bout. Something goes awry with a couple of hip tosses at one stage and I’m not sure whether it’s because Backlund isn’t basing for the move properly or Ramon isn’t rotating enough. Anyway, Ramon catches Backlund with a flash roll up following that and that’s enough for three.
WINNER: RAZOR RAMON
This wasn’t very good, but Ramon got a Mania win at least
Mean Gene is backstage with WWF Tag Champs Money Inc. Ted Dibiase stumbles a bit over his promo. The general gist is that they’re in the City of money, so tonight is basically a home game for them. They also imply that they arranged for a beat down on Hulk Hogan at the gym the previous night. This was to cover for Hogan legitimately injuring his face, as they worked it into the storyline to explain it.
WWF Tag Team Titles
Champs: Money Inc. (Ted Dibiase and Irwin R. Schyster) Vs The Mega-Maniacs (Hulk Hogan and Brutus Beefcake) w/ Jimmy Hart
You know what, bringing in Paul E. Dangerously as the new manager of Money Inc. so that Hart would have someone to play off against in this feud would have probably been great. The Psycho Yuppie managing the taxman and a millionaire would have been the perfect match. I think there were probably contractual issues with WCW that would have made such a deal impossible, but man it would have been awesome if they could have pulled it off.
I always wonder whether there was more going on with Brutus Beefcake than just his facial injury, as the quality of his work was notably worse post-injury and it’s not like he was ever a big bump taker or anything like that. He just seemingly had very little zip in his step anymore. It could have just been that the wrestling business changed quite a bit from 1990 to 1993 and his in-ring style and act just seemed tired when placed into a new era.
Anyway, the challengers do the big babyface shine segment to open things up, with Beefcake making sure to no sell some shots to the face in order to get his protective mask gimmick over. They actually stated in the pre-show hype package that Beefcake’s mask is made from titantanium and designed by NASA, which raises the question as to why he was even allowed to wear something like that in kayfabe.
Money Inc. teases walking out at one stage, which leads to the ref saying they’ll lose the belts if they do, which again makes no sense in kayfabe and also poses the question as to why the referee in the opener didn’t do similar and award the IC belt to Tatanka? Money Inc. actually works a bit of heat on Hogan following that, with the crowd getting behind Hogan whilst he sells. It’s interesting that Hogan is the one selling here but it probably means that we’re going to get the old Rock ‘N’ Roll Express double heat in this one.
Dibiase locks Hogan in the Million Dollar Dream at one stage to eat up some time, and in an interesting spot they actually have Beefcake make the save for him rather than having Hogan do the big Hulk Up out of it. That was either Hogan being very nice to Dibiase in order to protect his move or them deliberately trying to give Beefcake the big heroic rescue spot in order to get him over. Beefcake does get a hot tag following that and runs wild, with the crowd being into it and the Champs bumping all over the place for him to make him look good.
Dibiase clobbers Beefcake in the back with a briefcase whilst the ref is distracted though, and that does indeed give us our second heat segment. I’m not sure they really needed to give this match as much time as they have, especially when I know what the eventual finish is going to be. Money Inc. takes off the protective mask and goes to re-break Beefcake’s face, but he manages to fend them off with a double clothesline, leading to the referee taking a bump.
Hogan gets the second hot tag of the match following that, although the referee is still out so it doesn’t really count. Hogan knocks out both Heels with the mask and then we have a double pin, with Hart making the counter in a striped jacket. The babyfaces celebrate like idiots with the belts following that, but another referee runs down and disqualifies them in a super lame ending to what wasn’t a terrible a match up to that point.
WINNERS BY DQ: MONEY INC.
This match had its problems, notably the overly long running time and the absolutely horrific finish. Aside from that though, it was kind of just a tag team match that the crowd didn’t hate. Hogan sold a lot for Dibiase in particular and Money Inc. was reasonably well protected throughout, so it wasn’t like he showed up to Mania and made the Tag Champs look dumb in order to amuse himself. Beefcake wasn’t horrible here and the crowd was into him as well, so I didn’t hate the actual body of the match at all, it was just some of the questionable booking decisions that agitated my onions. I’m not going to go out of my way to watch this one again any time soon, but it was fine for the most part. Maybe I’m getting soft in my old age?
Hogan and Beefcake do the usual posing routine following that, although it feels kind of empty tonight.
Todd annoys people in the crowd, including the CEO of Caesars Palace.
Mean Gene is backstage with Mr. Perfect, who references Lex Luger attacking Bret Hart at the Mania brunch. Perfect actually stumbles over his promo. I’m surprised they left that in for the Video version to be honest.
Ray Rougeau interviews Bret Hart and they reference the Luger attack, with Bret saying he’s hurting a bit but he’s treating it as a minor setback and he’ll be ready by the time the Main Event comes around.
Lex Luger Vs Mr. Perfect
Luger has a gaggle of hot ladies with him, but he’s of course more interested in his own reflection instead in a funny gag. This is one of those feuds where they were probably in the wrong roles to a certain extent, as Heel Perfect bouncing around for a motivated babyface Luger would have probably been a really good match in something like 1989 or 1990. Heel Luger against a post back injury babyface Perfect in 1993 wasn’t really the right recipe for a good match, especially as Perfect supposedly forgets the planned match once he gets in there, meaning Luger has to carry it.
Perfect gets to shine on Luger to start with basic stuff, but Luger flings him into the corner and cuts him off, with Perfect selling his back. The pace of this match has been really sluggish to be honest and the tepid crowd reactions kind of highlight that. It’s not a bad match or anything, but it’s a pretty dull one for the most part, with it really feeling like both guys are kind of just going through the motions.
Perfect sells his back well and they do some good story stuff with Luger trying to cheat and costing himself the match by taunting after a big move rather than going straight for the pin, but it never really gets above “just a match” for the most part. It certainly doesn’t feel like these two have that much of a heated issue, based off the crowd reactions at least anyway. Perfect eventually makes the comeback, with it mostly being punches and clotheslines, and the crowd doesn’t really bite but it’s fine I guess. Luger uses the ropes to block a backslide though and gets one of his own for three, although Perfect had his feet on the ropes and the ref missed it.
WINNER: LEX LUGER
That finish protected Perfect a bit I guess. The match was kind of just “there”, but it wasn’t actively bad or anything. It was two guys having a TV match on WrestleMania
Luger gives Perfect a running forearm shot following that, which causes Perfect to chase after him. However, he finds Shawn Michaels instead and gets into an exchange with him to set up their feud over the summer.
Mean Gene is backstage trying to get a word with Doink, but Doink isn’t in the mood to talk with him. The other Doink then shows up in a funny gag and barges past Gene to get into the locker room.
The Giant Gonzalez w/ Harvey Wippleman Vs The Undertaker w/ Paul Bearer
Gonzalez had worked previously in WCW as El Gigante. He was a basketball player from Argentina who got brought into wrestling because of his incredible height, but he had pretty much zero aptitude for Pro-Wrestling and he was already starting to physically fall apart by this stage, meaning what little he could do looked awful. Undertaker does get a cool Mania entrance at least by coming down on a chariot with a vulture.
All Undertaker can really do in this one is punch Gonzalez, which mostly leads to Gonzalez stumbling around and doing a horrible job of selling it all. Gonzalez gets a period of control as well, which leads to him doing a long chinlock that flattens out the crowd. We get a section of brawling outside the ring following that, with Undertaker flinging himself around in an effort to make Gonzalez’ stuff look good. It doesn’t really work though.
Undertaker eventually decides that he’s done with selling and starts fighting back, leading to more horrible selling from Gonzalez. Taker manages to get Gonzalez down to a knee, which leads to Wippleman throwing in an ether soaked rag. Gonzalez rubs that in Taker’s face and that leads to the ref calling for the bell to give Undertaker the DQ win.
WINNER BY DQ: THE UNDERTAKER
Yeah this was miserable stuff, with Gonzalez not being able to do anything and Undertaker being unable to drag anything out of him. The finish was despicably cheap as well, but you can kind of justify it because the feud was going to continue and this gave Gonzalez a way of losing without looking weak. Had this show not already had a bunch of crappy finishes then this one would have left less of a bitter taste in the mouth
Undertaker gets taken out on a stretcher but stumbles back out like a horror movie monster and climbs back into the ring to send Gonzalez packing. Interestingly the fans actually chanted for Hogan when it looked like Taker wasn’t coming back at first. The crowd did get into Undertaker making the comeback at least, so the segment ended on somewhat of a high.
Mean Gene recaps all the terrible stuff that has happened to Bret recently, before bringing in Hulk Hogan to talk about the Main Event. Hogan of course makes the match all about him, saying he wants the first shot at whoever wins.
Todd is still out in the crowd annoying people.
Champ: Bret Hart Vs Yokozuna w/ Mr. Fuji
We got here as a result of Bret Hart surprisingly defeating Ric Flair for the WWF Title in the autumn of 1992. Bret had been working well as the fighting babyface Champion, with the monstrous Yokozuna being set up as his next challenger after he won the 1993 Royal Rumble match. Common sense dictated that Bret slay the monster here to make himself an even bigger babyface star, especially as most of the hype for the show was about how Yokozuna was the favourite due to his size, so Bret overcoming the odds to win would be a great feel good moment (Unless you had such an irrational hatred for Bret Hart that it caused you to create an online internet personality based around it, but how likely is THAT?)
Bret throws some great punches at Yoko to start (That was always an underrated aspect of his in-ring aptitude) but Yoko shrugs him off, so Bret ties his foot up in the between the bottom and middle ropes before getting a slingshot splash. Yoko floors Bret with a clothesline once he gets back up however, and that leads to him working Bret over with the usual big man spots. The fans humorously chant “USA” to get behind Bret, which would be like chanting “England” to get behind Drew McIntyre.
Bret tries to fight back by jumping off the second rope and applying a sleeper, but Yoko is too tired to hold him up on his back and the two collapse. Man, Yoko was a psychologically sound wrestler for the most part but he just had zero stamina and that would destroy his matches a lot of the time if he was required to work longer than a short squash. Yoko misses a charge in the corner, which allows Bret to get a bulldog off the second rope for two. Bret manages to bump Yoko down with a Hart Attack clothesline and starts firing off punches in the corner.
Yoko drags Bret into the middle of the ring following that, with Bret desperately holding on to the turnbuckle pad to stop it from happening, which leads to the pad coming off. Yoko tries to ram Bret’s face into the unprotected buckle, but Bret blocks it and sends Yoko’s face into the buckle instead. Bret applies The Sharpshooter from there and looks to have the match won, but Mr. Fuji throws salt in Bret’s face whilst the ref isn’t looking, which allows Yoko to get the three count and the Title.
WINNER AND NEW CHAMPION: YOKOZUNA
Apparently there was supposed to be more to this match, but Yoko gassed out and requested they take it home early. The match wasn’t bad but it wasn’t especially good either. Bret worked hard to have the best match he could, but Yoko dragged it down a bit, which is a shame because I don’t particularly dislike him or anything but he was definitely off his game here.
Hulk Hogan comes down to help the now blinded Bret to the backstage, but Mr. Fuji challenges Hogan to get into the ring and face Yoko for the Title right now. Bret waves at Hogan to get in and do it, so Hogan does and promptly drops the leg on Yoko following some Heel miscommunication to win the WWF Title once again. I wasn’t crazy about how this whole scenario made Bret look like a chump, but I can’t deny that Hogan winning the belt sent the crowd home happy at least. Bret would be rebuilt somewhat with a King of the Ring win in June, whilst Yoko would send Hogan packing on the same show to win the belt back. Bret would then eventually get his revenge at Mania X by defeating Yoko for the belt.
Is It Really A Stinker?
Honestly? No I don’t think it is. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a great show and it’s probably in the lower half of Mania events, but most of it is passable and a couple of the matches are good. The Undertaker match is as bad as you remember, but the rest of the card is fine for the most part. The biggest issue is less the wrestling and more the booking, with some terrible finishes and an ending that makes Bret Hart look bad for no reason other than to placate the ego of Hulk Hogan.
It’s certainly not the worst WrestleMania ever (I think that dubious “honour” goes to either XI or XXXII) but it’s also kind of “just a show” at the end of the day. It certainly didn’t feel like the “Granddaddy of them all” like other Mania events have, but it wasn’t a complete disaster either.
Final Rating – Odourless