In the build-up to WrestleMania 32, the Flickering Myth writers look back at previous installments of the ‘Showcase of the Immortals’.
Shawn Michaels w/Sensational Sherri vs. ‘El Matador’ Tito Santana
Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts vs. Undertaker w/Paul Bearer
IC Title Match: ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper vs. Bret Hart
‘Hacksaw’ Jim Duggan, Sgt. Slaughter, Virgil & Big Bossman vs. The Mountie, Repo Man & Nasty Boys w/Jimmy Hart
WWF Title Match: Ric Flair w/Mr. Perfect vs. Randy ‘Macho Man’ Savage w/Miss Elizabeth
Rick Martel vs. Tatanka
WWF Tag Title Match: Natural Disasters vs. Money Inc. w/Jimmy Hart (Win by Count-Out)
Skinner vs. Owen Hart
Hulk Hogan vs. Sycho Sid w/Harvey Wippleman
An early disappointment at WrestleMania VIII was the match between Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts and The Undertaker. While this may have been the birth of The Streak (yes he beat Snuka the year before, but one victory doesn’t constitute a streak), it was a match tainted by backstage politics.
Despite his personal demons, Roberts had worked wonders during his WWE tenure, but that was all coming to an end and his impending switch to WCW was common knowledge. Vince and company were understandably upset about ‘The Snake’ jumping ship to their arch rivals, which led to this burial (no pun intended) at ‘Mania.
Jake had spent much of his career protecting his sacred finishing manoeuvre, the DDT. While it’s a humble transitional move these days, back then it was devastating; if Roberts hit the DDT, the match was three seconds away from being over. So imagine the crowds surprise when Undertaker completely no-sold the move, not once but twice in this match.
This was back when ‘Taker was still thoroughly entrenched in the supernatural elements of his character, but even still, sitting up after 2 DDTs was a more than a little ridiculous.
If a disappointing Undertaker match wasn’t surprising enough, ‘Mania VIII also provided an underwhelming main event. First of all, the fact that Hogan and Sid headlined the show, and the WWF Title match between Flair and Savage didn’t, is an absolute travesty. Secondly, the match was a shambles from start to finish.
Neither Hogan nor Sid possessed the in-ring prowess to carry a main event, and the resulting match was clunky and unimaginative. The match’s climax was also a terribly bungled affair. The original plan was for The Hulkster to hit a Leg Drop and go for the cover, which would be broken up by Papa Shango for the DQ. Unfortunately, the only thing worse than Shango’s gimmick, was his timekeeping. The Voodoo Master missed his cue, forcing Sid to kick out of Hogan’s finisher at 2 (something considered sacrilege at the time).
The one saving grace of the whole segment came post-match, after Shango and Sid* had tied Hogan up in the ring ropes. Just when all looked to be lost, The Ultimate Warrior’s music hit, and the arena erupted. Warrior making the save was a genuine shock, and a memorable WrestleMania moment to send the fans home happy.
‘Mania VIII had several highlights that are worth revisiting; Bret Hart winning his second IC Title in a great match with Roddy Piper, Shawn Michael’s first ‘Mania as a solo act, and Bobby Heenan’s exceptional work on colour-commentary.
Above all though, this WrestleMania is all about two men: Ric Flair and Randy Savage.
Now, those of you have read previous editions of Flickering Myth’s WrestleMania Retrospective will know that whenever a match features the ‘Macho Man’, there’s a pretty good chance it’s going to steal the show. Savage was imply a phenomenal performer; possessing all the larger-than-life aura of Hulk Hogan, but with in-ring ability that was far-surpassed Vince McMahon’s poster boy. The very same thing can be said for the Ric Flair.
The ‘Nature Boy’ had sensationally won the title at the Royal Rumble, and proceeded to taunt Savage by putting the moves on Miss Elizabeth. The match itself was extraordinary, with both men pulling out all the stops to tell the best story they could. The supporting players were also great, With Elizabeth and Mr. Perfect adding to the drama on the outside.
In the end, Savage picked up the win with a roll-up pin to earn his 2nd WWF Title. In a delicious twist of irony, Savage gained illegal leverage on his pin by grabbing a handful of Flair’s tights, thus beating ‘the dirtiest player in the game’ at his own act.
WrestleMania VIII wasn’t a perfect show by any stretch of the imagination, but was a lot of fun nonetheless.
Much of the undercard was average, but the show was peppered with great moments. Hart vs. Piper was a great Intercontinental Title match, while Flair and Savage put on an indisputable classic. The main event was ill-judged, but Ultimate Warrior’s shock return was legitimately thrilling.
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