The SmarK Rant for WWF WrestleMania VIII Rant
By Scott Keith on 12th November 2023
Live from Indianapolis, IN.
Your hosts are Gorilla Monsoon & Bobby Heenan.
Shawn Michaels v. Tito Santana.
Shawn brings new meaning to “classy” by wearing a jacket that says “I’m too sexy for this crowd”, thus not only being a jerk, but also making an incredibly dated reference. Very weird hearing Sherri sing “Sexy Boy” instead of Shawn. Shoving match to start and Tito wins a slugfest and gets a quick crossbody for two. He grabs a headlock on Shawn and holds on, but Shawn slugs out and they criss-cross until Tito clotheslines him to the floor. Back in, Tito goes back to the headlock, but Shawn pounds him in the corner to escape and slugs away. Tito reverses him into the other corner and outsmarts Shawn, going back to the headlock. He gets two off that a few times, hanging on tight. Small package gets two. Back to the headlock for two. Shawn tosses him to escape, as Tito takes a good bump over the top and Shawn pounds him on the apron. Back in, backbreaker gets two. We hit the chinlock, and Tito fights out of it, but walks into the superkick. Since that didn’t get established as his finisher until 1995, it’s not over yet. Shawn goes for his real finisher, the teardrop suplex, but Tito fights out of it. He puts his head down too soon and gets nailed, but comes back with the flying jalapeno and Shawn goes for a ride right out of the ring. They brawl on the floor and Tito brings him back in for a slingshot shoulderblock. Kneelift sends Shawn flying into the corner, and an atomic drop sets up El Pace With Extra Piquante, but Shawn takes a powder to the floor. Back to the apron and Tito goes to slam him back in, but Shawn shifts his weight and gets the pin at 10:37. I assume Sherri was supposed to be cheating there or something, but it didn’t work out that way. Still, good match, although not “HBK” level good.
Mean Gene re-introduces the LOD, in the storyline that would bring Paul Ellering to the WWF…and Rocco the dummy. Don’t ask.
Jake Roberts v. Undertaker.
This was just after Undertaker’s face turn, as he saved Elizabeth from Roberts, and it was Jake’s last match in the WWF before jumping to WCW. Jake evades him to start and slugs away, to no effect. Another shot puts Taker on the floor, but he pulls Jake out with him and proceeds to ass-kicking. Back in, Jake kneelifts him coming through the ropes and keeps punching, but that gets him nowhere, as UT calmly chokes him out in the corner and won’t let him leave. Well, it’s no TRIANGLE choke, but you could see the MMA influence already starting! Okay, I made that up. Yeah, more choking. Taker drops an elbow and gets the flying clothesline, but Jake DDTs him. Taker no-sells and keeps choking, so Jake hits him with a short clothesline and another DDT. And it’s zombie sit-up #2 while Jake goes after Paul Bearer, which pisses Undertaker off enough that he tombstones Jake on the floor, and tosses him back in for the pin at 6:41. That was basically Jake passing the “creepy babyface” torch to Undertaker, and I guess it worked.
Roddy Piper v. Bret Hart.
This was of course set up by the Mountie being an unlikely transition champion, beating Bret at a house show and losing the title to Piper at Royal Rumble, so with Bret demanding his mandatory rematch, this was the result. They fight over a lockup and Piper armdrags him. Another lockup, and now Bret gets the armdrag. Piper takes him down to the mat and Bret sends him to the floor to escape, and a shoving match results. Piper asks for the test of strength, although considering Piper looks like he weighs a buck-fifty as this point I don’t know how smart that is. They trade wristlocks off that and Piper throws a chop, but can’t break free. He rams Bret into the corner to get out, but Bret goes back to it again and yanks Piper to the mat for an armbar. Piper escapes, so Bret dropkicks him, and hurts his shoulder on the bump. Piper is concerned…until Bret cradles for two. Ha! Piper gives him a slap for being sneakier than him, and now it’s on. Criss-cross and they tumble out on a Bret crossbody. Piper offers him save haven back in, and Bret takes it. But then Piper suckerpunches him. He stomps away as Bret blades (and later lied about it to prevent punishment for it) and Piper bulldogs him for two. Piper works on the cut and kneelifts him for two. He socks Bret right in the cut, but Bret gets a sunset flip for two. Piper keeps on the cut and peppers it with punches, for two. They slug it out and Bret forearms him out to the floor, but he heads right back in and they clothesline each other. Piper recovers first and goes up, but Bret was also goldbricking and crotches him, then brings him down by the hair. Atomic drop and suplex get two. Russian legsweep gets two. Backbreaker and he goes for the Sharpshooter, but Piper blocks it, so Bret drops an elbow on him and goes up, hitting boot on the way down. They slug it out and Bret headlocks him, but the ref is bumped. They fight outside and Bret eats stairs, and Piper grabs the bell. The crowd completely freaks out, not wanting to see Piper turn heel on him, but Piper shows mercy and leaves it alone, opting for the sleeper instead. However, that costs him the title, as Bret pushes off the ropes and rolls over for the pin and the title at 13:49, a move that he would later bring back to beat Steve Austin in 1996. Piper teases another heel turn, and then does the right thing and straps the title on Bret. This was not only a great match, but one of the only clean jobs Piper did in his WWF career.
Bobby Heenan introduces us to the newest WBF superstar, Lex Luger. Never heard of him.
Big Bossman, Sgt. Slaughter, Virgil & Hacksaw Duggan v. Mountie, The Nasty Boys & Repo Man.
Our running dead people tally continues, as Ray Combs does the ring introductions here. Big brawl to start, as the faces send the heels running and quadruple-team Repo Man. We start proper with Sags and Duggan, as Sags attacks him from behind and rams him into the turnbuckle, but Duggan comes back with a pair of clotheslines and an atomic drop. Slaughter, a year removed from being an Iraqi turncoat in the main event, gets a gutbuster on Knobs and Bossman follows with a big boot. He slugs away in the corner, but misses a charge, and Repo Man comes in and dodges a splash. He jumps on the back a few times, but lands on Bossman’s fist in an awkward place and Bossman slugs him down and brings in Virgil. Dropkick and he goes up with a high cross for two. The Mountie lays him out from behind and Repo gets a backdrop suplex and suckers Duggan in, allowing for some shenanigans. Sags gets a pumphandle slam for two. Mountie comes in and gets caught by Bossman with a spinebuster, and it’s breaking loose in Tulsa! Knobs punches Virgil in the broken nose, but heel miscommunication results in Virgil pinning him at 6:31. Total mess.
WWF title match: Ric Flair v. Randy Savage.
This is the famous “she was mine before she was yours” angle that would have been 100x better (and that’s saying something) if they had come up with it BEFORE the match was booked. On the other hand, you could just argue that Flair was playing mindgames with Savage after he found out he’d be defending against him. Savage beats on Flair outside to start, but gets distracted by Perfect, allowing Flair to start chopping. Savage hits him with a clothesline and knees him into the corner, then follows with a clothesline and a back elbow for two. He goes to the eyes, drawing the attention of the ref, but charges Flair and gets backdropped to the floor as a result. Flair follows and stomps on the knee, and back in he keeps stomping on Savage. Into the corner for some chops to set up a delayed suplex, which gets two. Backdrop suplex gets two. He whips Savage around and into a chop for two. Kneedrop and Savage bails to take a breather, so Flair follows and rams the back into the apron. Back in, suplex gets two. Flair whips him into the corner again to stay on the back, and stomps him down in the corner. They slug it out as Savage comes back, and a neckbreaker draws the double count. Flair goes for a running punch, but Savage blocks and slugs him into the corner, allowing Flair to go up, but Savage slams him off and makes the comeback. Backdrop out of the corner and a pair of clotheslines, and it’s a Flair Flip, as Savage slams him off the top for two. Savage comes back with a clothesline to put Flair on the floor, and follows with a double axehandle that sends Flair into the railing, and he blades. Flair wasn’t smart enough to claim it was hardway, like Bret did, so he was fined and very nearly fired for it. Savage suplexes him on the floor and pounds on him back in the ring, then follows with the double axehandle for two. Up top for the flying elbow, but Perfect pulls out Savage at two. Savage, understandably, is upset and chases after him, but that allows Flair to grab an international object and nail Savage with it for two. Flair gets frustrated and pounds away, then chokes him down, allowing Perfect to ram a chair into his knee behind the ref’s back. And now, WHOO, we go to school, but Elizabeth heads down to ringside to provide support as Flair gets the figure-four. The heat is just insane at this point. Flair slaps him around when he won’t stay down, but Savage fights back and reverses it. Flair breaks the hold, but stays on the knee, until Savage gets a small package for two. Into the corner, as Flair hits on Liz and beats on the knee, into a kneecrusher, but he gives one “whoo” too many and Savage rolls him up for the pin with a handful of tights at 18:01 to win his second WWF title. Started slow, but once they got into the groove, they had the crowd in the palm of their hands with great near-falls and crazy heat. Flair gives Liz a goodbye kiss, and Savage goes nuts on him, triggering a huge brawl until the refs pull them apart. Sadly, we would never see the naked centerfold of Elizabeth promised in the buildup by Perfect & Flair.
Rick Martel v. Tatanka.
This was fairly early in Tatanka’s run, although he would go on to draw pretty decent money against Yokozuna of all people in 1993, before self-destructing. Tatanka slams Martel and chases him from the ring while Bobby Heenan goes ballistic on Monsoon over the last match. Martel misses a charge back in the ring and Tatanka works on the arm, but gets taken down by Martel with a choke. He tosses Tatanka and they head back in, as Martel uses the CLUBBING FOREARMS and a backbreaker, but goes up and gets crotched for his troubles. Tatanka comes back with chops and a backdrop, chopping him down. Martel catches him with slam, however, and clotheslines him, but Tatanka finishes with a crossbody at 4:30. Weak.
WWF tag title match: Money Inc. v. The Natural Disasters.
Dibiase starts with Quake and gets overpowered. The Disasters clean house on them and the champs regroup. Back in, and the Disasters work on IRS’s arm, and Typhoon hiptosses him. IRS tries to bail, but gets caught by the tie and rammed into the turnbuckles. Typhoon charges and misses, however, and Dibiase comes in, but gets whipped into the corner, too. Typhoon charges and hits the floor, however, and Dibiase hammers away in the corner, and Money Inc gets the double-team clothesline for two. Double back elbow and IRS goes to the front facelock, and it’s a false tag to Earthquake. Dibiase gets two on Typhoon in the meantime. Double clothesline, crowd still doesn’t care. I never got why the Disasters were turned into the big babyface team of 1992, since they were never particularly over and didn’t have particularly good matches. “Hot” tag Earthquake, and he clotheslines everyone and dumps Dibiase. Typhoon splashes IRS and Quake goes for the butt splash, but Dibiase pulls IRS out and they take a walk at 8:37. Slow, dull match with a really bad finish.
Owen Hart v. Skinner.
Skinner sprays him with tobacco juice to catch him off-guard, and gets a shoulderbreaker. Inverted DDT gets two. He adds some headbutts, but Owen skins the cat after getting tossed, and rolls him up for the pin at 1:10. Not one of Owen’s best matches.
Hulk Hogan v. Sid Justice.
This was SUPPOSED to be Hogan’s retirement match, but he just kept coming back. The show is running long at this point, too. Sid attacks him to start, and Hogan punches him out of the ring and finishes his posing. We start proper as Sid knees him in the gut and pounds away in the corner. Hogan slugs him out of the ring. Back in, Sid calls for the test of strength like every other idiot heel in WWF history, and gets Hogan down to his knees, but he fights back up again. Sid takes him into the corner with knees, and chokeslams him. Sid stops to give his “Do unto the man…” line to the camera and the match is suddenly 10x better, since Sid isn’t doing anything. He uses the CLUBBING FOREARMS and Hogan bails, so Sid follows and hits him with Harvey’s medical bag. Wonder if that was George Zahorian’s bag? Back in, Sid uses the VULCAN NERVE PINCH OF DOOM as I go change my laundry. Hogan fights out, so Sid sideslams him and powerbombs him, but it’s Hulk Up Time, punch punch punch big boot legdrop…and then a very interesting moment as Papa Shango was supposed to run in and break up the count, but misses his cue, forcing Sid to kick out. That was to protect Sid, but in retrospect they needn’t have bothered, since he was gone weeks later anyway. It’s a DQ at 12:26 for no adequately explored reason, and Papa Shango finally gets out there for the beatdown…until Ultimate Warrior makes a shocking return and blows the roof off the place. Good thing they had his music ready. Well, Hogan’s good WrestleMania match streak ends at 3. Some cosmetic changes to Warrior had people guessing that it wasn’t Jim Hellwig, but believe me, I wasn’t that lucky.
By the way, the tape closes with an apology from Coliseum video for advertising a Bulldog v. Berzerker match on the box that didn’t happen. While it’s nice they would actually acknowledge their own false advertising for once (the show was running long and the match was ditched), there’s not really any apology needed for THAT cut.
The Bottom Line:
Another one of my favorite WrestleManias, with two great matches and one stinker of a main event that at least had one of the biggest surprise endings in WM history to bail it out somewhat. But it’s definitely worth a look.