WrestleMania IX is regarded as a flop by a lot of fans. WWF’s first venture into running outdoor arena was done at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. Fans cite the lackluster card, the venue, and the costumes as reasons to dislike this show.
WrestleMania IX was a fairly significant show for a couple of reasons, it was the first main event to be decided by the challenger winning the Royal Rumble, the debut of the legendary Jim Ross (in a toga, no less), and it would be the last WrestleMania appearance by Hulk Hogan until 2002.
So, is WrestleMania IX a flop, or just misunderstood? Let’s find out.
Opener: A Camel vs Bobby Heenan
We open in Caesar’s Palace, Monsoon is in a toga, which he seems to like (whatever floats your boat, Gino). He then introduces us to the newest member of the WWF broadcast team, Jim Ross. JR looks very excited to be there (this was before he had Bell’s Palsey), he jokes about the toga that he’s wearing, along with his lovely gold sandals. He teases the ‘centurion’ and comments on his great physique.
We’re sent to ‘Finkus Maximus’ (oh, lord), who is also in a toga, and has laurel wreaths on his head, who introduces us to Caesar and Cleopatra, who come out on an elephant, Cleopatra being carried on the elephant’s trunk. JR is extremely impressed and gives us a quick history lesson on the use of elephants in Roman history and about Cleopatra.
Up next is Macho Man, who comes out on a sedan, accompanied by llamas (I think) and Vestal Virgins. Macho Man is the only one not wearing a toga, and he’s being given grapes by the lovely ladies. JR welcomes Macho Man to the show and asks where Heenan (who was apparently supposed to be on the sedan) was. We quickly get our answer as an ostrich and several dancing girls come out, followed by Heenan, who is riding a camel backwards, and not happy about it. Heenan’s dismount gets a -1 from the judges and he flails about, falling on his hands and knees. Macho Man pulls up Heenan’s toga to show his underwear, much to Heenan’s dismay.
Heenan is hopping mad about the camel and hollers that he smells like a zoo and that he got an ‘attack camel’. He wants a bath, which JR agrees that he needs, and comments that JR’s probably used the smell. JR says he is, but they don’t have camels in Oklahoma. Macho Man keeps doing weird promos.
Winner: The camel
Highlights: The togas. Heenan on the camel.
Comments: This opener was so funny, I had to include it. I will also say that while Savage has many skills, commentary is not one of them of this opener is anything to go by. Also, Heenan and JR have the makings of a great commentary duo. I kind of wish it had been just them, instead of including Savage.
Intercontinental Championship Match: Shawn Michaels (with Luna Vachon) vs Tatanka (with Sensational Sherri)
HBK is out first and he’s got a new manager (he and Sherri had a falling out). His new manager is the maniacal Luna Vachon.
Tatanka comes out to a pretty good pop and is followed by Sensation Sherri.
This match was good, but awkward in spots. Tatanka kept kicking HBK off the apron, despite the fact that he couldn’t win the IC belt on a countout. That said, this was an okay start and Tatanka looked like a real threat to HBK.
Winner: Tatanka by countout. When the ref tried to signal for the bell, HBK yanked him out of the ring and punched him, climbed in the ring, Tatanka ducks a clothes line and hits HBK with ‘White Noise’ (I didn’t know what else to call it). Afterwards, Luna attacks Sherri from behind, slamming her and kicking her before Tatanka intervened.
Highlights: Sherri vs Luna was an interesting sideshow.
Comments: I was ‘eh’ on this
The Steiner Brothers vs The Headshrinkers (with Afa)
Headshrinkers and Afa are already in the ring to loud boos. The Steiners get a great pop.
This match wasn’t pretty, but it was very good. The style contrasts worked.
Winner: Steiner Brothers by pinfall.
Highlights: Headshrinkers hitting the double splash on Scott Steiner. Rick Steiner ramming the Headshrinkers’ heads together and getting a double headbutt in return.
Comments: I liked this match. It could be a match of the night contender.
Doink the Clown vs Crush
Our old friend Matt Borne is back. Last time we saw Matt, he was going up against Ricky Steamboat at the very first WrestleMania. Now he’s Doink the Clown and going up against former Demolition member, Crush.
Crush is out first to a great pop. Doink gets a round of boos.
This match was not a classic. It was okay, at best. The whole double Doink was eyeroll inducing.
Winner: Doink the Clown by pinfall after the first appearance of Doink #2. Bill Alphonso tells Joey Marella what happened, but they can’t find Doink #2, so the decision stands.
Comments: This seems to be a battle of the worst gimmick changes. Matt Borne went from having really no gimmick to being a sinister clown. Crush went from Demolition to surfer dude.
Razor Ramon vs Bob Backlund
Razor is out first to a mixed-to-positive reaction. Backlund also gets a mixed-to-slightly negative reaction
This was good match that was used to build Ramon up.
Winner: Razor Ramon by pinfall by getting Backlund in a small package.
Highlights: Ramon showing his wrestling skill was impressive
Comments: It’s sad, but not unexpected that Backlund didn’t get over with the fans for a long time during his second run. His heyday was in the pre-Hogan/WrestleMania years, a decade before WrestleMania IX, a lot of fans didn’t know or remember him and his old school babyface gimmick didn’t click with people.
WWF Tag Team Match: Money Inc vs Mega-Maniacs (with Jimmy Hart)
Money Inc is out first to loud boos, unsurprisingly. The Mega-Maniacs come out to a loud pop. Hogan’s eye is a mess, Beefcake has a mask to protect his face.
This was a pretty good match. The tag titles were secondary to the feud between Hogan/Beefcake/Hart and DiBiase/IRS.
Winner: Money Inc by disqualification after Danny Davis disqualifies Hogan for using Beefcake’s face mask as a weapon. Hogan and Beefcake really don’t care. They throw Money Inc out and pop open IRS’ briefcase to reveal a lot of money throw it to the crowd.
Highlights: Money Inc finding out that Beefcake’s protective face mask is hard. The ref making Money Inc come back or lose the tag titles. Hogan getting out of the Million Dollar Dream. Hebner tripping over Million Dollar Man. Jimmy Hart literally turning his coat to become a ref and getting the three count.
Comments: It’s weird to see Jimmy Hart as a face manager. There have been several explanations for Hogan’s injured eye. Officially, it was a jet ski accident that they explained in kayfabe by saying DiBiase had some people beat Hogan up. Unofficially, there’s a theory that Savage and Hogan got into it because Savage thought that Hogan and Miss Elizabeth had had an affair before she and Savage divorced. This would be the last WrestleMania for DiBiase, Beefcake, and Jimmy Hart. DiBiase would retire and become a commentator and manager. Hogan, Beefcake, and Hart would go to WCW. Hogan would return in 2002, but Beefcake and Hart wouldn’t.
Lex Luger vs Mr. Perfect
Luger is out first with some lovely ladies in thong bikinis, so I’m guessing the cheers are for them. Mr. Perfect gets an amazing pop, and one of Luger’s attendants seemed to prefer Perfect to Luger.
This was a really good match. Perfect and Luger really meshed well.
Winner: Lex Luger by pinfall but the ref didn’t see Perfect’s feet on the ropes. When Perfect complains, Lugar cheapshots him and leaves. Perfect runs to the back to confront Luger and gets attacked by HBK.
Highlights: Perfect fumbling Luger’s gimmick name and not caring. One of Luger’s attendants coming on to Perfect during his entrance. Not sure if that was planned, but it was funny.
Comments: Luger always came across as phony to me as a kid, but it worked with the Narcissist gimmick. This would be the last WrestleMania as a competitor for Mr. Perfect as he would take time off due to his back issues and go into commentary before going to WCW.
The Streak: Undertaker (with Paul Bearer) vs Giant Gonzalez (with Harvey Whippleman)
Gonzalez is out first, in his weird suit, to a round of boos. Undertaker comes out on a funeral chariot, with a vulture in tow, to a huge pop.
This match wasn’t godawful, but I’m glad it’s over. Both men really tried to put on a good show, but Gonzalez’s limited movement and skills really hindered it.
Winner: Undertaker by disqualification. Streak stands 3-0
Highlights: Taker coming back to chase Gonzalez out of the ring and Paul Bearer trying to stop him
Comments: Of all the matches in Taker’s streak, that has to be the worst one in terms of overall quality. This is the only match in the Streak that wasn’t by pin or submission.
We get a recap of Yokozuna’s tsunami of destruction, taking out Hacksaw Jim Duggan and how the feud between Hart and Yokozuna started.
WWF World Heavyweight Championship Match: Bret Hart vs Yokozuna (with Mr. Fuji)
Yokozuna and Mr. Fuji are out first to boos. He looks a little nervous, but there are some female attendants waiting for him. Bret Hart gets a great pop.
This match was really good. Bret and Yokozuna really did a great job.
Winner: Yokozuna by pinfall after Fuji throws salt in Bret’s eyes. Hogan comes out and argues with the ref and check on Bret. Fuji gets on the microphone and answers Hogan’s challenge from earlier in the evening and says that his Yokozuna will put the title on the line, right now!
Highlights: Bret Hart trying to mat wrestle a man who outweights him by a good 200lbs. Bret getting Yokozuna into the Sharpshooter.
Comments: This was the first WrestleMania where the #1 Contender was the winner of the Royal Rumble match. It’s funny, I remember not believing that Yokozuna was Japanese when I was a kid. I don’t know how I knew he wasn’t (he’s a member of the Samoan Anoa’i family), but I did.
WWF World Heavyweight Championship Match: Yokozuna (with Mr. Fuji) vs Hulk Hogan
Hogan hesitates to accept since he’s not really dressed to wrestle, and he’s tending to Bret, but Bret and the crowd urge him go after Yokozuna. After some prodding, Hogan accepts.
This match is quick, so there’s not much to say about it.
Winner: Hulk Hogan by pinfall.
Highlights: Fuji getting Yokozuna in the face with the salt.
Comments: This was an okay ending for Hogan’s Mania career. The crowd got to see him holding the gold for the first time in well over a year, but it didn’t really do anything for Bret Hart, who would not get the belt back for a year.
So, is WrestleMania IX as bad as people claim? Well, much like WrestleMania V, the answer is a little more complicated than a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’. There were certainly a couple of stinkers, but the whole card wasn’t awful.
Stinkers: Undertaker vs Giant Gonzalez.
Match of the Night: This is a draw: Steiners/Headshrinkers and Lugar/Perfect.
Promo of the Night: The opener. It wasn’t TECHNICALLY a promo, but it was hilarious.
Final Thoughts: Overall, I thought this show was okay. It wasn’t the best. This was the first outdoor WrestleMania WWF attempted and they wouldn’t try again for another decade.