I decided that, seeing as WrestleMania is on the horizon, I’d go and review every main event that has happened over the events 36 year history. I’m defining “main event” as the match that goes on last, so that will almost surely mean that I miss off some classic bouts, but don’t blame me, I didn’t book these shows!
I’ll be releasing one of these every week in the build up to Mania, with each one containing five matches. Hopefully they are fun and give you something to look forward to. If not, it shouldn’t be too difficult to ignore them at least what with all the other stuff going on here on the Blog of Doom during Mania Season.
Last week I covered the Main Events from Mania’s I to V, and you can read what I thought by clicking right HERE
Anyway, that’s enough chatter from me, let’s watch some chuffing wrestling!
Title For Title
WWF Intercontinental Champ Ultimate Warrior Vs WWF Champ Hulk Hogan
This all spanned from Warrior and Hogan doing battle briefly in the 1990 Royal Rumble. The fans made it clear that they were hyped for such a confrontation, so the match was booked for WrestleMania, with the added stipulation being that both men’s Titles would be on the line during the contest. Fans were genuinely divided on who they wanted to win the match, but the anticipation was at peak levels regardless of who they were rooting for.
Ultimate Warrior still decides to do his usual entrance of stampeding down to the ring as fast as possible, thus leaving him thoroughly knackered before a hold is even applied. Both men get great receptions coming down to the ring but Hogan’s sounds a little louder, owing to the fact that he’d always been a big star in Toronto (Which was partly why so many fans backed him in his battle with The Rock when they did battle in 2002 in the same arena).
This match is all about ebbs and flows, as the idea was to meticulously plan things out so that both men looked to be on the same page with one another and thus both would look like worthy winners. For instance, Warrior shoves Hogan to start, so Hogan shoves him back, Warrior starts winning a test of strength, but Hogan manages to power back up to his feet. They get the most out of absolutely everything here, with the crowd thoroughly engrossed and cheering for their man to win, whomever that is.
Edge was actually in the crowd for this one and he’s made no secret that he was pulling for Hogan, whereas The Hardy Boyz said in their joint autobiography that they were both hoping that Warrior would win the contest. Hogan eventually manages to slam Warrior, but Warrior no sells it and pops up before getting a slam of his own. Interestingly Hogan actually sells the slam rather than popping back up, which is the first time in the match where they suggest that both men are not completely evenly matched.
Warrior clotheslines Hogan to the outside and Hogan sells that his leg is hurt, which leads to Warrior putting him back inside and targeting the leg with some kicks, which leads to Hogan going to the eyes to sell that both men aren’t above turning this into more of a fight if they need to. Heel commentator Jesse Ventura of course loves the idea of the two babyfaces bending the rules. In the only bit of the match that I think doesn’t work, Hogan just forgets that his leg hurts and it never gets referenced again. In a match that is so stupendously put together, it’s the one thing that sticks out.
Hogan gets to control things for a bit, getting the Axe Bomber lariat for two and then working some holds. The crowd are buzzing throughout it all, with the Warrior fans getting their behind their guy and chanting for him to get back in the match. Hogan actually busts out a back suplex, which isn’t a move he would usually do, but it only gets a two and he goes back to a chin lock. Warrior feeds off the crowd to fight his way back to his feet and break out of the hold. However, both men catch one another with a double clothesline to give us a double down, which the crowd actually boos because they don’t want this to end in a draw.
Warrior pulls himself up using the ropes and starts Hulking Up on Hulk Hogan himself, which gets a fantastic reaction, and he eventually whips Hogan into the corner so hard that Hogan collapses. Warrior busts out a vertical suplex, a move that he didn’t often use, for two and then locks in a bear hug. The match structure here is so simple but it’s done very well and the crowd are eating it up with a spoon. It’s just amazing how well they’ve managed to book both men here to look strong whilst also not making the other guy look weak. They’ve actually been giving the slight edge to Warrior but they’ve done it subtly and not rubbed your face in it, so it hasn’t taken from Hogan.
Hogan eventually fights his way out of the bear hug but the ref takes a spill in the process. Warrior goes for a flying shoulder tackle but Hogan sidesteps him to send the IC Champ face first into the mat. However, there is no referee to count, thus giving Hogan a visual pin fall. Hogan goes to try and wake the referee up, which allows Warrior to get a back suplex for his own visual pin fall, just further pushing the parity between the two. The ref eventually wakes up, but Hogan has been down for a while to this stage and is able to kick out.
Hogan gets a school boy roll up for two, with the crowd going nuts for the near falls. They tease the double count out finish by having both men fight outside the ring, but they eventually get back inside before they can be counted out. This match is so full of red herrings and it’s great. Warrior manages to get his finishing combo of the Gorilla Press Slam and running splash, but Hogan kicks out at two and goes to his own Hulk Up routine. However, when he tries to finish with the leg drop, Warrior is able to roll out of the way and gets a second splash to finally hold Hogan down long enough for the three count and both Titles.
WINNER AND DUAL CHAMPION: ULTIMATE WARRIOR
This is still a great match that still holds up in my opinion. Both men play their respective roles well and the match structure (which I believe came from Pat Patterson) is nothing short of exceptional. This is the archetypal way to book two big babyface stars against one another, as both got a chance to shine but neither was made to look weak or a lesser star in comparison to the other. The finish is a key example, as Hogan does the clean job but he didn’t get to hit his leg drop, thus leaving a slither of doubt as to whether Warrior would have kicked out but still making Warrior look resourceful enough to out quick Hogan at the last gasp.
In a memorable moment following the match, Hogan is a good sport and presents Warrior with the WWF Title, in an act that actually causes long time Hogan enemy Ventura to claim that Hulkamania might just live forever after all. Hogan has since tarnished this a little bit by bragging that him being such a gracious loser overshadowed Warrior in what should have been the big passing of the torch moment, but I still think from a storyline perspective it made sense for long time babyface star Hogan to show respect to the new top babyface.
Champ: Sgt Slaughter w/ General Adnan Vs Hulk Hogan
One problem you have with doing a big face vs face match where you pass the torch is that the fans of the man who passes the torch might not want to get on board with the man who takes it. That happened to a certain extent with some of the Hogan fans, as they didn’t really welcome Warrior into their hearts as required to make his Title run the success it needed to be. Warrior also suffered from a lack of strong opponents, so the decision was eventually made to put the belt on the Iraqi sympathiser Sgt Slaughter so they could do the classic xenophobic “Hogan Vs Someone Who Doesn’t Love ‘Murica” storyline.
Of course this coincided with the first Gulf War and a lot of people found it supremely tasteless that the WWF was milking a real life war for storyline purposes, and as a result WrestleMania VII ended up being a bit of a disappointment at the box office. I actually enjoy the show overall as there are some good matches on it and an excellent bout between Warrior and Randy Savage in the mid card. The question was, despite the controversial build, could Slaughter and Hogan at least have a good match to pay it all off? Well, let’s read on and find out!
Slaughter pin balls around for Hogan in the early going, with Hogan even no selling a Slaughter chair shot. Slaughter outright begs off at one point, playing the ultra-devious cowardly heel to Hogan’s red, white and blue Pro-American babyface. Slaughter eventually manages to go to the eyes to take over for a bit, but Hogan is able to dodge an elbow drop and deliver the Axe Bomber. Adnan tries to get involved, but Hogan knocks him off the apron and then gets a nice Atomic Drop onto Slaughter for two.
Hogan continues to control things, with the idea being that this is supposed to be catharsis for the fans after months of Slaughter’s skulduggery as he finally gets his comeuppance, and that works well enough for a story. Eventually though the time comes for Hogan to take some proper heat, as Adnan stops him when he tries to go up top and that allows Slaughter to throw the challenger off the top rope Ric Flair style. Slaughter takes things outside and adds some more chair shots, with Hogan selling them this time.
The referee doesn’t disqualify Slaughter because Slaughter had made a big show in his pre-match comments that he was going to show up to Mania with the goal of just getting DQ’ed so he could keep the belt, so the referee is showing some leniency so as to deny Slaughter from achieving his aims. I get that as a story point but the commentators kind of needed to do a better job of explaining it, with Bobby Heenan going on a rant about how the referee is biased etc.
Heenan does get a very good line in at one point though, as Slaughter gets a two count from the back breaker move that he would do on the Wrestle Fest arcade video game, stating that Slaughter should be the winner because in Iraq you only have to count to 2! Hogan sells the heat from Slaughter well and it has the desired effect of getting the crowd behind him as he tries to hold on and find a way back into the match.
Slaughter actually comes off the top rope with a double stomp to Hogan’s spine, but Adnan stupidly distracts the referee to complain about whatever, which gives Hogan enough time to kick out from the resulting pin attempt. Slaughter hits Hogan in the face with a chair in frustration and that leads to Hogan doing a bladejob, as they are doing everything they can here to make this as epic as they can. I have to admit that it’s working, as this feels special and different from everything else on the card due to the blade job and the weapon shots.
Slaughter stomps away on the back and goes to the camel clutch, which may have possibly been a hint at the fact The Iron Sheik would soon be coming back to the company to join his stable. Hogan manages to power his way to his feet, but Slaughter promptly shoves him into the corner and then buries Hogan under the Iraqi flag, which is finally all Hogan needs to start Hulking Up. This is so cheap and tacky as a storytelling device but it works an absolute treat as the crowd goes nuts for Hogan putting Slaughter away with the leg drop to win the Title.
WINNER AND NEW CHAMPION: HULK HOGAN
This was actually quite a good match, as both men were experienced pros who knew exactly what story they wanted to tell and the crowd was on board to watch it. It was a bit different from your usual Hogan Formula™ match as it focused a lot on Hogan really wanting to give Slaughter a solid kicking for his anti-American ways, which in essence led to a really long babyface shine before Slaughter inevitably managed to get some heat on him.
Hogan celebrates with the American flag post-match, as Gorilla Monsoon dubiously claims that the war is now over. Yes, I’m sure Saddam Hussain watched WrestleMania VII and went “Welp, Hogan just beat Slaughter, I guess I better step down from my position as despot and move on to doing embroidery in the Swiss Alps. You sure showed me Hulkster!”
Sid Justice w/ Harvey Whippleman Vs Hulk Hogan
This match came about due to Sid turning on Hogan in a tag match against Undertaker and Ric Flair. Originally, Hogan was supposed to get a WWF Title shot on this show against Ric Flair, but when Sid turned on him he demanded a match with him instead, which led to Randy Savage getting inserted as Flair’s challenger. In reality, Sid had been promised the main event slot upon signing with the company, so the WWF never had any intention of delivering the Hogan Vs Flair Title match. The WWF had wanted Hogan to announce this as his retirement match, but he didn’t want to do that so instead it’s just being suggested that it “might” be his retirement match, which doesn’t have the same level of oomph to be honest.
Sid attacks Hogan during his entrance, but Hogan knocks him out of the ring and keeps him out there with an Axe Bomber off the apron. Sid takes over once the match actually starts, and works Hogan over with his usual dazzling array of rubbish offence. Hogan comes back with some right hands and sends Sid outside again. Sid bides his time outside before coming back in and asking for a test of strength. Unfortunately this isn’t Hogan Vs Warrior, not even close. Sid starts to win the test of strength, but Hogan miraculously powers back up. You know, it’s kind of hard for me to get excited by this tripe when Flair and Savage just tore the house down about an hour ago on the same show.
Sid keeps control with some knees to the gut but has an Irish whip reversed into a clothesline. Whippleman earns his managers fee by causing a distraction, which allows Sid to drop Hogan with a choke slam. Sid, instead of doing something smart like pinning Hogan, chooses to instead mug for the camera, as this insipid match must continue. Sid goes after Hogan’s spine with some clubbing, before heading outside to dish out further punishment, courtesy of Whippleman’s doctor bag.
Back inside, Sid aggravates me even more by going to my most hated rest hold of all time in the nerve pinch. Not only is it incredibly lazy, but it also goes completely against the work on the spine. The nerve pinch hurts the upper body, not the lower back. Sid is a big tall bloke weighing close to 300 pounds, if you want to rest here then put Hogan in a camel clutch. Not only does it look more impressive, but it also suits the story of the match better as it actually works over the area of the body you’ve been targeting all match. Did Sid even know what wrestling was? I mean, did he have even the slightest clue?
Somehow Hogan manages to fight his way out of the dreaded nerve pinch, but he ends running into a side slam and a powerbomb. Sid finally deigns to go for a cover, but Hogan’s Refuseustosellfinishingmovesofyouropponentus gene kicks in and it’s time for the Hulk Up routine. Punches, big boot and leg drop follow, but Papa Shango misses his cue for a run in and Sid actually gets to kick out. Shango finally does make his way down to the ring and we have our DQ finish.
WINNER BY DISQUALIFICATION: HULK HOGAN
As a general rule I don’t mind Hogan matches when he’s motivated and actually trying, but he had this one stuck firmly into cruise control. It might have helped if he had been in there with someone talented, but Sid completely stank the joint out in the heat segment and match died a death as consequence. Shango and Sid look ready to destroy Hogan 2 on 1, but Ultimate Warrior makes a surprise run in after leaving the company the previous summer to make the save. This at least wakes the crowd up and they cheer along to Warrior and Hogan posing as the show closes
Champ: Bret Hart Vs Yokozuna w/ Mr. Fuji
I’m bending my rules ever so slightly here, but will justify it by saying that this was the “announced” Main Event of the show and will just leave it at that in case anyone reading this doesn’t have much knowledge about Mania IX or the commotion that surrounded it. We got here as a result of Bret Hart surprisingly defeating Ric Flair for the WWF Title in the autumn of 1992. Bret had been working well as the fighting babyface Champion, with the monstrous Yokozuna being set up as his next challenger after he won the 1993 Royal Rumble match. Common sense dictated that Bret slay the monster here to make himself an even bigger babyface star, especially as most of the hype for the show was about how Yokozuna was the favourite due to his size, so Bret overcoming the odds to win would be a great feel good moment (Unless you had such an irrational hatred for Bret Hart that it caused you to create an online internet personality based around it, but how likely is THAT?)
Bret throws some great punches at Yoko to start (That was always an underrated aspect of his in-ring aptitude) but Yoko shrugs him off, so Bret ties his foot up in the between the bottom and middle ropes before getting a slingshot splash. Yoko floors Bret with a clothesline once he gets back up however, and that leads to him working Bret over with the usual big man spots. The fans humorously chant “USA” to get behind Bret, which would be like chanting “England” to get behind Drew McIntyre.
Bret tries to fight back by jumping off the second rope and applying a sleeper, but Yoko is too tired to hold him up on his back and the two collapse. Man, Yoko was a psychologically sound wrestler for the most part but he just had zero stamina and that would destroy his matches a lot of the time if he was required to work longer than a short squash. Yoko misses a charge in the corner, which allows Bret to get a bulldog off the second rope for two. Bret manages to bump Yoko down with a Hart Attack clothesline and starts firing off punches in the corner.
Yoko drags Bret into the middle of the ring following that, with Bret desperately holding on to the turnbuckle pad to stop it from happening, which leads to the pad coming off. Yoko tries to ram Bret’s face into the unprotected buckle, but Bret blocks it and sends Yoko’s face into the buckle instead. Bret applies The Sharpshooter from there and looks to have the match won, but Mr. Fuji throws salt in Bret’s face whilst the ref isn’t looking, which allows Yoko to get the three count and the Title.
WINNER AND NEW CHAMPION: YOKOZUNA
Apparently there was supposed to be more to this match, but Yoko gassed out and requested they take it home early. The match wasn’t bad but it wasn’t especially good either. Bret worked hard to have the best match he could, but Yoko dragged it down a bit, which is a shame because I don’t particularly dislike him or anything but he was definitely off his game here.
Hulk Hogan comes down to help the now blinded Bret to the backstage, but Mr. Fuji challenges Hogan to get into the ring and face Yoko for the Title right now. Bret waves at Hogan to get in and do it, so Hogan does and promptly drops the leg on Yoko following some heel miscommunication to win the WWF Title once again. I wasn’t crazy about how this whole scenario made Bret look like a chump, but I can’t deny that Hogan winning the belt sent the crowd home happy at least.
Guest Referee: “Rowdy” Roddy Piper
Champ: Yokozuna w/ Mr. Fuji and Jim Cornette Vs Bret Hart
Following on from Mania IX, Bret Hart wanted a Title match with Hogan at Summer Slam 93, but Hogan was having none of that and had gotten tired of the WWF, so he agreed to drop the belt back to Yoko at King of the Ring 93 and then left the WWF to do shots in Japan and film his television show “Thunder in Paradise”. Thus Yoko was left as monster heel Champion, which led to him feuding with both Lex Luger and Undertaker over the Title belt.
Whilst Yoko successfully defended the Title against Taker at Royal Rumble 1994, Bret Hart and Lex Luger ended up as double winners of the Rumble match itself, meaning they both earned themselves a Title match. Luger won the right to face Yoko first thanks to a coin toss, but failed once again to dethrone the Champ thanks to an unfair DQ from guest ref Mr. Perfect. Prior to that on the same show, Bret had lost to his brother Owen in the opener and had injured his knee in the process, thus giving him even more of an uphill battle than he had the previous year at Mania IX. Would Bret right the wrong of the previous year and get his big moment, or would Yoko’s monster reign continue? Well let’s read on and we’ll find out!
Yoko jumpstarts things and starts working Bret over right away, with Bret selling it all well and making the odd sporadic comeback. Yoko always regains control however, and keeps the pressure up on Bret, moving slowly so as to conserve energy. Piper shows that he is not going be biased like Perfect was earlier, by telling off Yoko’s managers when they try to cheat and just generally calling it the match fairly. Bret eventually manages to club Yoko down with great difficulty, which leads to Cornette pulling Piper out of the ring to remonstrate with him, thus leading to Piper popping him in the mush with a big punch.
Piper and Yoko have an argument, but Yoko regains control of the match and drops a big leg on Bret. Man, Yoko is absolutely frazzled here. He probably needed a couple of days in an iron lung following this pay per view after being forced to wrestle twice in one night. They do a count out tease by having Yoko throw Bret outside, mainly to allow Yoko to get a breather, but Bret makes it back in. Yoko misses a charge in the corner, which allows Bret to get the bulldog from the second rope like he did from the previous year, which gets him a two count.
Fans were totally buying that near fall, and are gutted that Yoko managed to kick out. Talk about getting the most out of everything. Bret gets a couple more near falls on Yoko off basic stuff, which gives the crowd the ominous feeling that Bret might not be able to put the monster away. Bret heads up to the second rope for what looks like an axe handle smash, but Yoko catches him on the way down and delivers a nice belly to belly suplex before dragging Bret into the corner for the Bonzai Drop. Yoko stops to taunt however, which proves to be his undoing as he loses his footing and tumbles down to the mat, which allows Bret to get the cover and the Title.
WINNER AND NEW CHAMPION: BRET HART
Yokozuna being absolutely goosed ahead of this match meant it was fought at quite a lethargic pace and the crowd really didn’t pick up until Bret started getting the near falls. I know the way the match ended is unpopular with some, and I understand why, but I quite like it. It’s almost poetic that Yoko’s big monster Title reign came to an end because he allowed himself to get overconfident and essentially cause his own undoing. Sometimes it’s great to see villains done in by their own hubris.
Most of the babyface roster comes down to celebrate with Bret following the match, whilst Owen Hart glares from the entrance way that his brother Bret has overshadowed him once again. This would lead to an awesome cage match at Summer Slam between the two brothers.
There we go with 5 more Main Events in the bag. Mania VI was clearly the highlight but I was pleasantly surprised over how much I liked the Hogan Vs Slaughter match. Mania VII isn’t a bad show overall actually. If I can find the time I might give it a review at some point in March.
I’ll hopefully see you all next week when I cover Mania’s XI to XV!