The road to Wrestlemania continues…
So now it was time for the Grandaddy of them all, Wrestlemania IX. It was an amazing event. Not only because of the huge match between the Hitman and the undefeated behemoth. Lex Luger had a motorcycle accident during a WWF promotion. When he returned from his elbow injury as the Narcissist – “Flex Feluuuuger” (Inside 5th Grade Joke) – he shocked the world by knocking out his opponents using that elbow. It was soon uncovered that Luger had a metal plate inserted into his elbow as a result of a fracture. This sent shockwaves through the WWF. This is the kind of stuff the WWF is missing nowadays. There’s no wrestlers that end careers by flying off the second rope and sitting on them with their 500 pound frame. No bionic elbows! This is the stuff that made the bad guys seem unstoppable. I think the WWF eventually made the bionic elbow illegal – although I’m not certain.
Well anyway, in an attempt to prove that he lived up to his name and the Narcissist was merely mediocre, Mr. Perfect took on Lex in a classic battle. Unfortunately, my boy, Curt Henning wasn’t so perfect after all.
Whenever I’ve had my favorite wrestler in title contention, there’s always been a lesser star that I’ve really caught onto. During this era it was none other than Crush.
Crush was a monster. He would knock people out by crushing their skull with his hands – Again! Why don’t they have more of this now? For a few weeks on Superstars a guy in a clown outfit had been running through the crowd. I just figured it was a crazy fan who followed the WWF around.
However, things changed when the clown came down and attacked Crush on the way down the entrance ramp. At Wrestlemania, a returning Crush would get his chance at revenge on Doink the Clown. Except that Doink had a few tricks up his sleeve and unveiled his vast army of clones. In the end, Crush wasn’t laughing.
There’s nothing quite like an amazing bad-guy tag team. And Money Incorporated, the Million Dollar Man and I.R.S., were the cream of the crop.
They had stepped over the line when they attacked Brutus the Barber and mangled his face. Angered by the attack, Brutus had no choice but to retaliate, and challenged Money Inc. to a title match at Wrestlemania. His partner? – None other than HULK HOGAN who had not been seen for almost a year! The night that was announced was the first episode of Raw I ever saw. Not only did Hogan return, but Mr. Perfect defeated Ric Flair in a career match. I love old school WWF! Unfortunately, the duo could not overcome Ted and Irwin, who retained their titles.
Of course, you can’t do a piece on early 90’s WWF without mentioning The Native American Tatanka. Tatanka had an amazing undefeated streak going, which would last two years, a WWF record. And so having to go one on one with him obviously worried the new big Intercontinental Champion, Shawn Michaels. It was bound to be an amazing match. Everyone thought Tatanka would get it done, and in a way he did. It’s just that he won by disqualification, and a title doesn’t change hands by disqualification. So Tatanka’s streak continued, but Michaels retained the title.
In case you haven’t noticed, up until this point, it’s been a very disappointing Wrestlemania. Sure, the Steiners beat the Headshrinkers and the Undertaker defeated the Giant Gonzalez, but those just don’t make up for the losses sustained by Mr. Perfect, Crush, Hogan and Beefcake, and Tatanka not capturing the title. With things looking so dismal at Wrestlemania IX, fans could look to no one else but the champion, Bret Hart to cap off this dismal pay-per view with an impossible victory over the undefeated Yokozuna. And let me tell you, Caesar’s Palace was on its feet when the Hitman locked Yoko into the Sharpshooter. The hero had won! — except that Mr. Fugi threw salt in Bret’s eyes and blinded him and Yokozuna climbs on top of the Hitman to claim the WWF World Heavyweight Title. Never before has there been such a disappointing loss at a Wrestlemania.
Hulk Hogan rushes to the aid of the defeated Bret Hart. Mr. Fuji mocks, Bret, Hogan, and America.
In an attempt to destroy yet another legend, Mr. Fuji issues a challenge to the Hulkster, who with Bret Hart’s blessing beats Yokozuna in under a minute to claim his fifth WWF Heavyweight Title.
It’s so fitting that the greatest era in the WWF’s history would reignite Hulkamania one last time to shed some light in its darkest hour.
The WWF announced a new pay-per-view event, the King of the Ring Tournament. Bret Hart would win the tournament by defeating Bam Bam Bigelow – gotta like a guy crazy enough to tatoo his skull.
However, a jealous Jerry “The King” Lawler would ruin the coronation ceremony, and shift Bret’s focus from reclaiming the title, to exacting revenge on the “Burger King”. Hogan gave Yokozuna a rematch and had it won until he was sabotaged by a photographer whose camera exploded in Hogan’s face. It was Hogan’s last match in the WWF until Wrestlemania X8. Leaving the throne of the WWF vacated, and waiting to be filled by the new King of the Ring…