By Steven O’Connor
It’s widely regarded as one of, if not the worst PPV of all time. The line-up was rather poor, some finishes were questionable, the action was not very exciting and the outcome of the main event was, in my opinion, criminal. I am of course referring to Wrestlemania 9, and I will now attempt to explain why it is still one of my favourite events of all time.
Every year following the traditional February PPV (I won’t name it as chances are they will change it again) the ‘Road to Wrestlemania’ begins. Much like Christmas, there is magic in the air when it comes to Wrestlemania. The WWE doesn’t seem so bad around that time. My own personal ‘Road to Wrestlemania’ begins as I attempt to watch as many, if not all of the past Mania events as I can, culminating with Wrestlemania 17 (my all time favourite) the night of the big event.
I usually start with Wrestlemania 9. This will always be a personal favourite of mine even though I know it was poor. This was the first PPV I stayed up late to watch. I remember it like it was yesterday, knowing that I didn’t have to go to school the next day and waiting patiently for the event to start. Taking place at Ceasers Palace in Las Vegas, the whole thing looked great, the stage was set. The arena was converted into the Roman Coliseum where we witnessed the world’s largest toga party. The opening ceremony featured the debut of a certain Jim Ross (hard to believe it was almost 20 years ago) and the introduction of Bobby Heenan, riding the wrong way to the ring on a camel. The commentary by Ross, Heenan and the ‘Mach Man’ Randy Savage was a real highlight of this extravaganza – “I don’t have to answer questions that you ask me Savage. You’re lucky I let you sit here”.
I eagerly awaited the main event to find out just how Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart could possibly overcome the 505 pound monster Yokozuna who was steamrolling his way through the competition in the WWF. Bret did as only he could do, which was produce a great story in the ring with a monster heel. In a surprisingly good match, Bret gave Yokozuna the toughest challenge of his WWF run so far. Then the unthinkable happened. On the brink of victory, outside interference by the devious Mr. Fuji caused Yokozuna to come away with the win and the WWF champion. “He’s a national champion now” cried Bobby the Brain. I couldn’t believe what I was watching, the bad guy won, the Hitman was defeated and I was devastated. What happened next though is what this PPV will always be remembered for.
Making his big return to the WWF to help his ‘friend to the end’ Brutus Beefcake in a tag team championship match against (the brilliant) Money Incorporated, Hulk Hogan knew that he deserved more attention than that. You would think that being part of the huge double main event at Wrestlemania would be enough for most people, but not for Hulk. He needed to be champion, and he needed to be champion that night. He wasn’t in the championship match, but that wasn’t going to stop Hulk getting his way. Despite not being seen in the WWF for almost a year, the WWF felt that they needed Hulkamania to run wild one more time. What better way to do that than to have him show up after Yokozuna’s grand victory and defeat the newly crowned champion in a then record time. At the time I was thinking ‘hmm, that looked easy. Bret doesn’t look so good now’. Coincidentally Hulk Hogan, despite being WWF champion, would not wrestle again until he ‘did the job’ to Yokozuna in June the King of the Ring PPV.
There were still some good things to come out of Wrestlemania 9. The Intercontinental Championship match between Shawn Michaels vs. Tatanka was a decent opener, despite a poor finish to the match. Was it a miscommunication? Mistiming by both men? Whatever it was, the ending was horrible.
Another huge match, and I mean that literally, was The Undertaker vs. Giant Gonzales. As a 10 year old, Gonzales scared the hell out of me. Looking back though, those fears were a little unnecessary. The match was flat out horrible. I’m sure Taker tried his best but it must be so tough to work with a guy as slow as Gonzales. Undertaker did provide us with one of his greatest entrances to the ring though, looking menacing in a chariot with a vulture at his shoulder.
The mid card was ok too. Crush was attempting to get revenge on Doink for an attack he suffered weeks earlier at the hands of the evil clown. What came of this math was interesting as we were introduced to the ‘two Doinks’ gimmick which was a lot of fun at the time. There were also decent performances from The Steiner Brothers who took on the Headshrinkers. Razor Ramon also defeated Bob Backlund in a rather quick match which may have his been the easiest night’s work of his career.
The Wrestlemania debut of ‘The Narcissist’ Lex Luger was forgettable in a very slow and un-interesting match with Mr. Perfect. I was really looking forward to this match and I felt that we were in for a treat as Luger made a grand entrance to ring accompanied by five bikini clad girls holding mirrors that shot out fireworks. What’s not to like so far? Then unfortunately the match took place and we witnessed 10 minutes of a slow and un-interesting match.
It’s clear that I am certainly not building this PPV up and claiming that it is a must-see, so why do I regard this as one of my favourites? I ask myself that question every year when I watch it and the answer is simple. I was 10 years old. To me, wrestling in the early 90s was fun and wasn’t a business. I didn’t realize that TV was a ratings war and there was no internet to highlight the politics that run deep in wrestling. There was also no reason for me to believe that Doink wasn’t an evil clown or that Yokozuna wasn’t a sumo wrestler from Japan. Therefore I watch this event every year and let myself think back to that time when I know I can enjoy the show as I once did, and enjoy the spectacle and pageantry that was, and always should be… Wrestlemania
You can follow Steven on Twitter @St3ven91 as he discusses wrestling, The American Office and his obsession with the Chicago Bulls.