Wrestlemania Challenge: Wrestlemania IX

All right, one thing that’s been bugging me about the Wrestlemania IX build.

During the Wrestlemania brunch the day of the card they shot an angle where Lex Luger attacked Bret Hart, which would logically make one thing Bret is retaining the title and going on to a program with Luger. This thinking is further accelerated with the Perfect-Luger program being transitioned into a Perfect-Shawn Michaels program after he attacked him after the Perfect-Luger Wrestlemania match.

So obviously we know that the Hogan stuff came about and everything changed. My question is simple – what was the original plan?

Bret retains and fights Luger at King of the Ring and against at Summerslam? Does Luger’s face turn ever happen?

Does Yokozuna fit in and have a title reign at all or does he lose at Wrestlemania and go on to other things, like the Undertaker?

Does a Bret-Luger program in 1993 work? Personally I would have been interested given Luger’s ability to work up to the level of his opponent.

Definitely curious about what could or should have been.

Wrestlemania Challenge: Wrestlemania IX
From Ceasar’s Palace in Las Vegas
Hosted by Jim Ross, Randy Savage and Bobby “The Brain” Heenan

“The Narcissist” Lex Luger vs. Mr. Perfect

Again I say if the matches weren’t so underwhelming Wrestlemania IX would be so fondly remembered because the atmosphere was phenomenal. Luger’s whole entrance is great and this gimmick was really a good fit for him. Seriously everything about this card is GREAT except for the matches. Huge pop for Mr. Perfect. It’s weird, I generally get sad when I watch matches of wrestlers that have left us but I always smile when I hear Mr. Perfect’s entrance theme. The actual storyline in this match was finishing old business as Luger had knocked out Bret Hart during the Wrestlemania brunch and appeared to be the natural contender following this card (of course we know how that turned out).

Little collar and elbow action and they trade arm wringer before Perfect rolls through and kicks out. Side headlock and they trade some chain wrestling before Luger goes to the ropes. Luger goes to the eyes but Perfect comes back with a shot to the gut and a knee lift. The pace picks up and Perfect with a sweet dropkick that sends Luger to the floor. Back in the ring and Perfect corners Luger but Luger comes back with a shot to the eyes and starts laying in the high-impact offense. Luger misses a clothesline and Perfect catches the boot and slaps Luger. Perfect with a knee grapevine smasher and he goes to work on the knee. Sitdown splash on the knee and a spinning toehold that he turns into a single leglock. Perfect continues to work on the leg until he corners Luger and hits him with a WICKED chop (huge crowd pop for that). Luger blocks a corner whip so Perfect with another nasty chop. Luger reverses the corner whip and adds a second one that Perfect does the somersault sell on. Outside the ring and Luger sends Perfect into the side of the ring. Back inside the ring and Luger with the forearms to the back. Luger scoops up Perfect and hits the backbreaker. Front elbow drop and a cover gets two. Luger continues on the back, Perfect tries to rally but Luger cuts him off with a knee and he goes for a cover but has his feet on the ropes and the referee catches him. Big powerslam from Luger gets two. Luger with an irish whip but he sets too early and a sunset flip from Perfect gets two. Sleeper by Perfect by Luger sends him into the corner. Perfect rallies again with the fists and knocks Luger down. Luger fights back but sets too early again and a small package from Perfect gets two. Big back body drop from Luger and he sends him into the buckle chest first. Slingshot from Perfect sends Luger into the buckle and a clothesline gets a two count. Perfect corners Luger and lays in the punches, Luger fights out of the corner but two clotheslines from Perfect gets a near fall. Swinging neckbreaker from Perfect gets two. Top-rope dropkick from Perfect gets another near fall. They fight over a backslide and Luger hooks his foot on the ropes and wins the backslide and gets the three count despite Perfect being on the ropes. That was strange. Post match Luger hits him with the loaded forearm.

(Luger def. Perfect, pinfall, **1/2, here’s the great thing about watching each match separately and not in one sitting. I feel like I can judge a match on its own quality rather than be weighed down by the other crap on the card. This wasn’t either guys best match by any stretch, but it was technically sound and there was little resting. Luger forgot to sell the leg and Perfect forgot to sell the back but that happens.)

And the Challenger

WWF Superstars (French telecast)
From Random Date in 1993
Hosted by Raymond Rougeau and Frederic Navil (in French)

“The Narciscist” Lex Luger vs. Mr. Perfect

Weird pre-match interview has the guy asking Perfect questions in sort of a bastardized French/English and Perfect just answering in straight English. Campy and a little odd.

Perfect jumps on Luger right away and beals him out of the corner. Big back body drop and a clothesline from Perfect gets a two count. They repeat the spot from the last match when Perfect catches Luger’s foot, slaps him, and hits the knee grapevine smasher. He works on the leg again, sitdown splash, etc. etc. In the corner and Perfect with a couple of chops but Luger reverses the corner whip and Perfect does the somersault oversell the first time. Luger works on the back at a quicker pace as obviously they are doing the same match with time constraints. Luger with a rope burner and another corner whip to Perfect. Luger with the backbreaker again and he hits a sitdown splash on the back for a two count. Luger with three elbow drops gets two, he covers again and gets two so he covers a third time and gets two. Perfect rallies when he reverses a corner whip and gets a sunset flip for two. Luger misses a clothesline and Perfect gets the sleeper but Luger fights out. Luger into the corner and he gets the slingshot into the buckle again. Atomic drop from Perfect, inverted atomic drop from Perfect and a clothesline gets two. Shot to the gut from Perfect and the knee lift. Side Russian legsweep gets two. Swinging neckbreaker gets two as Perfect protests. Luger gets to his feet but they bump heads for the double knockout. Luger gets to his feet first and misses a wild swing, Perfect with a rollup for two. Luger comes back with the belly to back suplex and both of their shoulders are down, however, Perfect lifts his up before three and gets the victory.

(Perfect def. Luger, pinfall, ***, great little TV match with a super pace and while it was the template of the first match they made a couple of slight changes for the better.)

And the Verdict.

The Match: The Wrestlemania match certainly isn’t bad in my opinion, but this random television match is a little better as the guys packed a lot in a seven-minute slot. Edge: Superstars Match

The Storyline: It was a continuous storyline after Perfect sent Flair back to WCW – two guys that didn’t like each other because their egos were so big. DRAW

Intangibles: The program between these two ended right after Wrestlemania because Perfect gravitated towards Shawn Michaels while Luger was turned and re-packaged as an American hero. Bottom line is one match is at Wrestlemania and the other is a throwaway Superstars match designed to get Perfect his pinfall back and without YouTube most people wouldn’t know the latter match existed.

The Decision: Wrestlemania.