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Retro Wrestlemania Moment: 1993's Wrestlemania 9

On our first stop through our Retro Wrestlemania Moments series, I figured we'd take a look at Wrestlemania 9 from 1993!  WM9 is probably my all-time favorite Wrestlemania, as a kid or an adult.  This was one of the shows my parents wouldn't order on Pay-Per-View so I was forced to live and die through the video clips and pictures shown on the syndicated "WWF Week in Review" shows until finally, it was available on VHS.

What's not for a kid to love about Wrestlemania 9?  Hulk Hogan returned after a year's hiatus and defeated the evil Yokozuna in a surprise match.  (I bet Yoko and Bret Hart were REALLY surprised!)  Taking place at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas, the WWF went all out with the theming, wardrobes, and graphics.  Legendary announcer Jim Ross' made his WWF debut here at WM9 and who could forget Hulk Hogan's mysterious black eye?!

Taking place on April 4, 1993, this was the first Wrestlemania held outdoors.  Built around two main storylines, the show focused on the unstoppable Yokozuna challenging Bret Hart for the WWF World Heavyweight Championship as well as the return of Hulk Hogan.  Hogan had left the WWF after Wrestlemania 8 but returned to team with real-life best friend Brutus Beefcake against the WWF Tag Team Champions "Money, Inc." Ted DiBiase and Irwin R. Schyster.

One thing I miss about the current WWE product is event theming, and the WWF didn't let me down at WM9.  The event was promoted as "The World's Largest Toga Party" and the arena was made to look like a Roman coliseum.  It featured Roman guards, trumpeters, and even live animals!  The commentators, including the debuting Jim Ross, wore togas.  Even famed ring announcer, Howard Finkel, was named "Finkus Maximus" for the afternoon.  Randy Savage, who had been relegated to just a broadcaster at this point, was carried to the broadcast booth while being fed grapes and having flower petals thrown at his feet.  Bobby "The Brain" Heenan arrived in a toga while riding a camel and in true Brain fashion though, he was riding backward!

Hulk Hogan sported a black eye during the match that was covered poorly by makeup.  Today in 2020 it's still up for debate what caused his black eye but the on-air storyline said that Ted DiBiase (his opponent) hired a group of men to attack Hogan before the match.  One fan theory claims that Randy Savaged punched Hogan believing that Hogan had an affair with Randy's ex-wife Elizabeth (Miss Elizabeth) while they had still been married.  McMahon and Hogan denied this, claiming the "official" story to be a Jet Ski accident days prior.

Although we'd later find out that Hogan had other behind the scenes plans, the storyline reason for Hulk's return was to create "The Mega-Maniacs" with buddy Brutus Beefcake.  The feud between the Mega-Maniacs and the WWF Tag Team Champs "Money, Inc" stemmed from a legitimate parasailing accident in 1990 that nearly killed Beefcake.  Beefcake underwent reconstructive facial surgery and was unable to wrestle again until 2 months before WM9 in February of 1993.  Beefcake faced DiBiase in his return match, and once the match was over, Irwin R. Schyster attacked Brutus hitting him in the face with a metal briefcase.  Jimmy Hart, turning babyface, called in the cavalry by bringing Hulk Hogan out of "retirement" to challenge for the Tag Team Titles at Wrestlemania.  

Beefcake wore a protective mask during the match while the announcers openly speculated on the cause of Hogan's previously mentioned black eye.  During the match, there was a referee bump and Hogan used the mask as a weapon.  Jimmy Hart turned his jacket inside out to reveal a black and white striped referee jacket and made the three-count, making The Mega-Maniacs the winners.  Referee Danny Davis came running out after the celebration and disqualified Hogan for using the mask, allowing Money Inc. to retain the titles.  Hogan opened IRS' briefcase revealing stacks of cash and since Hogan must pose, he tossed the cash into the crowd and celebrated once again.

Another title match at Wrestlemania 9 featured one of my other favorite wrestlers at the time.  Tatanka (anyone with face paint was over with me) was in the midst of an undefeated streak while feuding with the WWF Intercontinental Champion Shawn Michaels.  Tatanka would defeat Michaels several times during the feud, including a six-man bout featuring The Nasty Boys and the Beverly Brothers.  As a side story, Michaels was also battling with his former manager Sensational Sherri, who stood in Tatanka's corner during Wrestlemania. To combat Sherri, HBK brought in his new valet, the tough and intimidating Luna Vachon.  This match ended in a Count Out, allowing Michaels to keep his Intercontinental Title but allowed Tatanka to keep his undefeated streak alive.

Following his debut in 1992, Yokozuna was pushed as an unstoppable monster heel.  Weighing in at over 500 pounds, Yoko used the Banzai Drop to flatten his opponents by literally dropping his weight onto their chest off the second rope.  If you read my last post about Retro Royal Rumble Memories (which you can do by clicking HERE) you'll remember that Yoko won the 1993 Royal Rumble, earning himself a World Title shot against Bret Hart.  In the Main Event, Hart tried using his technical wrestling abilities while Yoko relied solely on his girth and power.  In the end, Bret gained the advantage by removing the protective padding on a corner turnbuckle and after Yokozuna hit his head on the metal post Hart applied his finishing maneuver, The Sharp Shooter.  Yoko's manager Mr. Fuji entered the ring, and with the referee's back turned, threw salt in Hart's eyes, enabling Yokozuna to pin Hart and win the WWF World Heavyweight Championship.

Within seconds of Yokozuna's victory over Bret, Hulk Hogan appears in the ring to check on Hart's condition.  Hogan had stated during an earlier interview during the show that he wanted to face the winner of the match and Mr. Fuji immediately challenged Hogan, much to Yoko's chagrin.  Hogan entered the ring and quickly ducked out of the way of Mr. Fuji's fist full of salt.  Yokozuna had been standing behind Hogan, however, and he was blinded by his own manager.  This allowed Hogan to hit his famous leg drop and pin Yokozuna to win the Title in just 22 seconds!  The show went off the air to more celebration as Hogan triumphantly returned to the WWF and was once again the WWF World Heavyweight Champion.  All was right in my 9-year-old world!

Other matches on the card featured Tito Santana defeated Papa Shango in a pre-show "dark" match while The Steiner Brothers defeated the Head Shrinkers.  Doink the Clown took on Crush and Razor Ramon defeated Bob Backlund (ugh)  The Undertaker had a stinkeroo of a match against Giant Gonzalez while "The Narcissist" Lex Luger defeated Mr. Perfect.  

Overall, the event was not as successful as previous Wrestlemanias.  The PPV buy rate and attendance was lower than it had been in previous years.  A lot of criticism stems from some of the things I liked most about the show!  The togas and the "Caesars Palace theming" was deemed childish by some.  You could also criticize the Undertaker and Giant Gonzales match and I'd be right there with you... even as a 9-year old I could tell this match, especially Giant Gonzales, was a stinkeroo.  I hated him in WCW as El Gigante and when I saw him again in the WWF, especially with that ridiculous painted-on muscles and fur bodysuit, I knew he would be stinking up the ring once again.

Most of the criticism stems from the Hulk Hogan win in an unannounced 11-second match stealing Bret Hart and Yokozuna's thunder.  A lot of rumor and innuendo stem from this match, with both Bret, Vince McMahon, and Hulk Hogan having differing stories as to what happened regarding the World Title that day and the months to follow. 

Following Wrestlemania 9, a behind the scenes deal was made for Hogan to drop the belt to Yokozuna in what led to one of my top 3 favorite wrestling angles of all time.  Once he regained the title, Yokozuna challenged any American athlete to bodyslam him on the deck of the USS Intrepid on July 4, 1993.  After many failed challengers, Lex Luger arrived by helicopter and bodyslammed Yokozuna.  Luger had dropped the flopped Narcissist gimmick and became an American patriot following the Lex Express nation-wide bus tour.  Luger would eventually face Yokozuna at SummerSlam 1993 but failed to win the title.  

So, there you have it, folks.  Wrestlemania 9 is the first stop on our Retro Wrestlemania Moment tour.  

Where will we end up next?  We'll jump ahead in time to Wrestlemania 20!