1992 wasn’t that fun of a year for the WWE. Business started to decline and once hot stars were starting to lose steam. What didn’t help was a double whammy of steroid abuse and sexual allegations within the locker room. Both issues would plague the WWE for the rest of the year, and as a result there was a huge roster turnaround. Thankfully, WrestleMania VIII was early enough in the year that the problems were not as evident. So let’s bask in the good times, with 60,000 strong at the Hooiser Dome ready to see Hulk Hogans last match ever…maybe.
Hulk Hogan was at the center of allegations regarding the steroid abuse issue. Originally, Hogan went on the Arsenio Hall show and denied ever taking steroids except for a few times for medical reasons. The allegations from other wrestlers, however, would tell a different story, one that would put Hulk Hogan in a bad light. So the story with this WrestleMania, without really going into detail why — that this might be Hulk Hogan’s last ever match. Of course, it wasn’t, but who knew for sure at the time?
Oh, and there was a title match. But we’ll get that to that later since its not a main event. Sure, the WWE said this was a “double main event” but just like someone said on a podcast this past week, the main event is the match that goes on last.
One thing I noticed is that the usual 3:30 hour running time has been shortened down to 2:41. That’s a good move because the other WrestleMania matches had a bunch of filler that didn’t need to be there and felt like padding a show that was already long. This is not unlike a television show that airs on Monday nights.
Reba McEntire sings the National Anthem. It was great! I say this every year, but there will be one exception. Heenan kept calling her Arriba McEntire, sister of Tito Santana. He was in rare form here.
El Matador Tito Santana vs. Shawn Michaels: It’s been quite the year for both of these guys. Shawn broke off from his long-time tag team partner Marty Jannetty and aligned himself with Sherri Martel to become the Heartbreak Kid. Tito went to Mexico and became a matador. Yeah, different career trajectories here, but still. Tito had control early, but Shawn cut him off with a superkick. HBK went for the teardrop suplex but Tito cut him off and hit the flying forearm (that Gorilla called El Paso de la Muerte because, um, yeah). He tries to bring Shawn in, but while doing so Shawn counters with a crossbody and covers Tito for the three count. Kind of anti climatic, but this was a pretty solid match while it lasted. **3/4
Gorilla throws it to Mean Gene who introduces the Legion of Doom, who have been away for a while. They also bring out Paul Ellering, who is back managing them. I believe the real story is that Hawk’s erratic behavior led to bringing back Ellering who could keep him in tow. Ellering says he’s the one who brought them together and it’s the end for those who cross their way. Animal runs down IRS and Ted DiBiase, who together are Money, Inc. Hawk says they’ve been a runaway train, with no one driving it. Ellering says they make their money the old fashioned way, by beating people up. They promise to run wild again in the WWE. And by running wild, they mean bringing in a puppet to soften their image since Vince McMahon thought they were too rough — seriously. Paul Ellering was cool here, but the fact that a few months later he was doing puppet voices killed any real interest in this group. Hawk would be gone by SummerSlam anyway, so their post WrestleMania run was not much. They’ll be back later, though.
Jake Roberts is interviewed. The strongest man doesn’t always win, the smartest man does. They show what happened at the Funeral Parlor when he laid out Bearer with the DDT and attacked Undertaker with a chair while his hand was stuck in the coffin. Trust me, he says.
Jake Roberts vs. The Undertaker: This was essentially a squash match. Roberts hit two DDTs, but Undertaker got up each time. Roberts confronted Paul Bearer on the outside, but Undertaker grabbed him, tombstoned him, then put him back in the ring for the pinfall. If I recall correctly, something went down the day of WrestleMania that caused Roberts to demand a release from his contract or he’d threaten to no-show this match. I remember seeing a syndicated show this show which featured Roberts in a squash match. The commentators went out of their way to make ZERO mention of Roberts. Kind of amazing how quickly you can not exist in the WWE Universe. He’ll be back later though. *1/4
Roddy Piper/Bret Hart promo. Piper was being his usual self, going all wacky about Bret’s family. He went to pinch his cheeks, but Hart slapped his hand away. He said all he cares about is getting the IC title back and that’s what he plans on doing tonight. Piper gets serious as well, saying it’s not happening and that “she be mine”.
WWE Intercontinental Championship: Roddy Piper (c) vs. Bret Hart: This was a really good back and forth contest. Bret plays possum early and gets Piper in a rollup for a near-fall. Piper responds by letting Bret back into the ring after a spill on the outside, and as Bret loses his guard gives him a hard punch that busts him open. Bret starts doing his comeback until Piper gets a foot up that blasts Bret in the face. Back and forth punches that ends up with Piper shoving Bret into the ref. Piper brawls with him on the outside as he grabs the ring bell. Piper holds up the bell like he’s about to use it on Bret, but has second thoughts. He changes his mind and goes for a sleeper, but Bret uses the ropes for leverage and bounces off, pinning Piper for the three count and the championship. Really great match that told a fun story. ***1/2
Bobby Heenan has a surprise for us: LEX LUGER. Bobby calls him the next WBF champion and Lex looks absolutely gigantic. The WBF, for those that don’t remember, was the failed bodybuilding promotion that Vince McMahon founded around 1991. Luger promised he’d win at the next WBF competition because he has the best body in the world. Well, plans change, and he was in a motorcycle accident just prior to the event, so that didn’t happen. He’d be back as a wrestler by early 1993, and, well, you’ll find out how that goes next week. As for the WBF, the PPV they kept plugging here did one of the lowest buyrates ever, so that tells you all you need to know about that project.
The Mountie is talking to the Nasty Boys over their upcoming eight man tag. Repo Man, the former Demolition Smash, comes in and Sags puts over his team, saying they’ll destroy them. Sgt. Slaughter, Virgil (who is wearing a nose guard because, well, yeah), Boss Man and Jim Duggan all do short promos.
Ray Combs, star of Family Feud at the time, is ready to ring announce the next match. It’s mostly just a platform to run jokes on all the heels. He was kinda funny, if not predictable.
Eight Man Tag: Virgil, Sgt. Slaughter, Hacksaw Jim Duggan and Big Bossman vs. The Mountie, Repo Man and the Nasty Boys: Gorilla really put over how they were in a bunch of countries already. When business starts going down in the US, you know the first step is to go overseas. Heels get the heat on Virgil. Saggs punches Knobbs by accident and this allows Virgil to cover him for the win. Not a lot to speak of here. *1/2
Sean Mooney is backstage with Ric Flair and Mr. Perfect. Perfect tells Mooney to shut up then says that he’s airbrushed all the imperfections off of Liz and when they post the hot photos they have of her all over the Hoosier Dome big screen she’ll be as perfect as she’s gonna get. Flair says that after tonight when he wins, Liz will have one more shot at Space Mountain. Gene Okerlund talks about what’s on the line for Savage this evening, including the honor of his wife, Elizabeth. He sends it back to ringside for the first of the double main event of this evening. You know why there’s two double main events. And you also know why the WWE title is being defended in the middle of the show.
WWE Championship: Randy Savage vs. Ric Flair (c): Flair, the champion, enters first because, um. I dunno. Hogan? Let’s just go with that. Savage immediately jumps Flair but Perfect separates them. Back and forth hot contest from here. Savage gets the heat early but Flair cuts him off with a slingshot. Flair works on him for a while until Savage makes the comeback, including doing a sledge off the apron that sends Flair to the barricade, busting him open. Savage hits the elbow, but Perfect drags him out of the ring. Savage and the ref exchange words as Flair manages to get something that allows him to lay out Savage with his fist. That only gets a near-fall, however. Perfect smashes Savage in the leg with a chair as Flair works on the leg. Elizabeth comes out to give Savage moral support as agents try and get her away. Figure four is applied, but a lot of the focus is on Elizabeth for some reason. Why is it such a big deal she’s out there? Perfect aids Flair as Savage sinks it in. Savage turns over for a huge pop as Flair escapes. More work on Savage’s leg. Savage finally rolls him up and grabs the tights for the victory and the championship. An all-time classic, awesome match that doesn’t get enough due. ****1/2
Flair is incensed after the match and kisses Elizabeth, causing her to slap him. He and Perfect end up laying out Savage as they make their way to the back, pissed. Savage gets up on his own accord and celebrates, big pyro celebration as Savage makes his way to the back.
Flair and Perfect come backstage with Sean Mooney after the match, pissed off over what’s just transpired. Perfect again tells Mooney to shut up and talks about how Savage had the trunks. Heenan comes in and says he saw it all. Flair says tonight there will be a man who claims to be the WWF champion. He says you did it once, now try and do it again. Perfect says Flair never takes a shortcut. Flair says maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow but he’ll regain the WWE title soon enough and kiss Elizabeth again. WOO!
Savage is with Mean Gene. He says he just took a piece of him when he won the WWE title. He wants the whole Nature Boy. Doesn’t matter where it is, eventually he’ll get his hands on him.
Video package of the greatest press conference ever that will lead to tonight’s second (real) main event. The press conference was to announce the number one contender for Ric Flair’s championship. Sid Justice gets up like he’s about to be named but it’s actually Hulk Hogan. His reaction is the best thing ever, making a mean face and crumpling up papers. He cuts a promo on Jack Tunney, the on-air president of the WWE after saying this the MOST BOGUS ACT HE’S EVER PULLED OFF and runs down Hogan. Later, in another segment, he apologizes and teams with him at to take on Undertaker and Flair on Saturday Night’s Main Event. Hogan crawls over to try and tag him, but Sid bails on him. When he explains his actions on the Barber Shop, he opts to destroy the set instead. Somehow he winds up with white powder on his face, making this even more awesome. And by awesome I mean hilarious. Then they show him just destroying dudes. He’s ready for Hogan.
We come back to the arena for um, a native dance. Rick Martel is interviewed. Says the indians have no class and he’ll have to disinfect the ring after the match. That’s rude. He says that Tatanka might not even be there for the match because he might still be SCALPING tickets. Man, was WWE not a PC place in the 80s and 90s.
Rick Martel vs. Tatanka: The announcers mostly bickered with one another as the match started. Not much of a match, either, just there. Eventually Tatanka gets the win with a crossbody block. *1/4
Money Inc. is with Sean Mooney. DiBiase says for the Natural Disasters to not make withdrawals you can’t cash. IRS says we’re not taking you lightly, but WE ARE taking you.
Natural Disasters promo. Says they have a surprise for for Jimmy Hart and they’ll get what’s rightfully theirs.
WWE Tag Team Championship: Money Inc. (c) vs. Natural Disasters: Usual, simple match. Faces run hot early as they get the heat on Typhoon. Disasters make a comeback and Earthquake was about to splash IRS when Hart grabs IRS and they just all decide to walk away for the DQ. Yes. This finish sucks no matter what decade it is, and comes off as a complete waste of time for anyone who looks for this strange thing called a resolution in storytelling. DUD
Mean Gene is with Brutus Beefcake. He says he’s friends with Hogan, he’s the #1 Hulkamaniac and no matter what, Hulkamania will live forever.
Owen Hart vs. Skinner: Yep, this was a match that happened. Skinner got the advantage early by jumping Hart and spitting tobacco at him. Skinner gets a nearfall with a reverse DDT, but Owen kicks out, bounces him against the ropes while he’s celebrating nothing and bridges him for the pinfall. Too short to be anything. NR
The best pre-tape segment ever aired. Mean Gene is with Sid Justice who tells him to shut up and calls him a “bald headed little oaf”. Man, that’s gotta sting. He says it won’t be a barnburner (boy, is that for sure) and that he’ll destroy Hogan. They throw it to another interview where Hulk Hogan says he may or may not retire, he’s not sure. He was vague as humanly possible. The best part of it was when it ended and they went back to Sid he was grinning like a madman. He doesn’t GIVE A DAMN about the memories of Hulk Hogan, he will lay waste to him because he’s the master and ruler of the world. HELL YEAH!
Sid Justice vs. Hulk Hogan: Harvey Wippleman introduces Sid Justice. He has an awesome entrance, awesome music, awesome promo and an awesome look. One thing is missing, though. Oh right, that whole wrestling thing. Hogan leaves him laying outside before his music even stops. Eventually the match starts and they trade offense. And by offense I mean do a really long test of power spot. Justice corners him and then gives him the one armed chokeslam. More stalling. Long ass shoulder hold. Hulk finally powered up but Sid takes him down and goes for the powerbomb and hits it but Hogan HULKS UP and kicks out. Big boot, legdrop, but SID KICKS OUT. This causes, for some reason, for Harvey Wippleman to come to the ring to interfere for the DQ. Terrible. Everything about this was bad. -1/2*
Papa Shango then started to make his way to the ring, but then kind of stopped and looked confused. Someone missed their queue here. As it turns out, he was supposed to run in and attack Hogan before Sid could kick out of the legdrop, so everything after they had to improvise. He runs down anyway and it soon turns into a two-on-one. They continue to beat up on Hogan until suddenly THE ULTIMATE WARRIOR’S MUSIC HIT. Yes, after being away for eight months due to holding up Vince McMahon for money (allegedly, I should put here), WARRIOR returns and helps Hogan clear house. He looks completely different than he did at last year’s WrestleMania with a completely different hairstyle. He wouldn’t last long in this run either, leaving the WWF by November due to what they said was a drug test failure. Oh well. Happy times are still here though as Warrior and Hogan celebrate as the show goes off the air.
This was a better show than most years. There were some bad matches, particularly the main event, but the WWE title match was awesome and the Intercontinental title match was great as well. This would mark the last of the “Federation era” events, as things would be scaled down for next year’s WrestleMania, along with a slew of new roster changes. There would be still one constant in the WWE however, dude, and you better believe he’d be the one closing out the show, if only for one more time, brother.