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A WrestleMania RetroSpective: Part 2

by Alixx D

Hey folks, we're back and ready for part 2 of our WrestleMania RetroSpective. If you'll recall, last week we worked our way up to WrestleMania IV and "Macho Man" Randy Savage's amazing tournament victory over "Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase to win the WWF World title. This victory came with just a bit of help of his new ally Hulk Hogan. Their alliance began a few months earlier when Hogan, at Elizabeth's request, saved Savage from a brutal assault by the Honky Tonk Man and the Hart Foundation. The duo would eventually become known as the "Megapowers" and would go on to team on several occasions. However, as with most associations with Hogan, the friendship soon soured.

Savage began to accuse Hogan of "lusting after" Elizabeth. Their big split came on a prime time "Main Event" special. Hogan and Savage were wrestling I believe the Twin Towers (Big Boss Man and Akeem). At one point, Hogan was thrown out of the ring and landed on Elizabeth. Being the gentleman that he was, Hogan carried Elizabeth back to the locker room for medical attention, leaving Savage alone against the two big men. Savage and Hogan would later have a fantastic brawl in the training room. This of course would set the stage for the inevitable collision of the Megapowers at WrestleMania V.

On April 2, 1989, for WrestleMania V, the WWF returned to glorious Trump Plaza in Atlantic City, NJ, the site of WrestleMania IV. In what would be one of the bloodier battles of Hogan's career, Hogan managed upend the "Macho Man", kicking out after Savage's famed flying elbowdrop before polishing him off the Leg Drop of Doom to win his second WWF title. Hulkamania was on top of the world once again, perhaps even stronger than before. The bout was also the 1st runner up for PWI's annual Match of the Year voting.

Another classic rivalry on the card featured Intercontinental Champion Ultimate Warrior defending his title against "Ravishing" Rick Rude. The battle see-sawed back and forth for several minutes before the Ultimate Warrior attempted to bring in Rude over the top rope. Rude's manager, Bobby "The Brain" Heenan tripped the Ultimate Warrior, causing him to fall back with Rude on top of him. Heenan held onto the Warrior, keeping him from kicking out of the pin before the referee could count three, giving Rude his first WWF Intercontinental title.

In other matches: Hercules beat "King" Haku (Meng); The Twin Towers beat the Rockers when Akeem pinned Shawn Michaels (making his WrestleMania debut); Ted DiBiase and Brutus "Man of Many Names" Beefcake fought to a double-countout; The Bushwhackers beat Jacques and Raymond Rougeau; Curt Hennig pinned The Blue Blazer (Owen Hart); Demolition defended their title in a handicap match, beating the Powers of Pain (Warlord & Barbarian) & Mr. Fuji; Dino Bravo beat "Rugged" Ron Garvin; Tully Blanchard and Arn Anderson beat Rick Martel & Tito Santana; Jake Roberts beat Andre the Giant by DQ; The Hart Foundation beat Greg Valentine & Honky Tonk Man; Bad News Brown & Hacksaw Jim Duggan fought to a double DQ; and Terry Taylor pinned Bobby Heenan in 32 seconds.

One year later, WrestleMania would not be about revenge but about respect. On April 1, 1990, the WWF ushered in the final decade of the Milennium with the first (and so far only) international WrestleMania. 68,000 screaming fans packed the Skydome in Toronto to see the "match of the decade" (how many times have we heard that?) between Intercontinental Champion Ultimate Warrior and WWF Champion Hulk Hogan. If there ever was a match that could truly be called a "Clash of the Titans", it's this match. Both men were equally popular with fans, and rather than choosing sides, the fans cheered the match itself. The battle raged for nearly 23 minutes before the Ultimate Warrior finally managed to get the pin on Hulk Hogan. In a true show of sportsmanship, Hogan handed the belt to Warrior and the two embraced in center ring as the fans cheered a phenomenal match. Hogan then gave the ring to Warrior and exited as Warrior celebrated. This match was the hands-down Match of the Year for 1990. Many fans saw this as a "passing of the torch" by Hogan and some wondered if Hogan would slowly fade out of the picture in the WWF.

The undercard, while solid, was not particularly spectacular: Paul Roma beat Steve Lombardi (in a dark match); Demolition regained their WWF Tag Team titles from the team of Haku and Andre the Giant; Rick Martel beat Koko B. Ware; Earthquake (John Tenta) pinned Hercules; Brutus Beefcake pinned Curt Hennig; Roddy Piper (painted half black and half white for the occasion) and Bad News Brown fought to a double countout; The Hart Foundation beat the Bolsheviks (Nikolai Volkoff & Boris Zukhov) in 19 seconds; The Barbarian pinned Tito Santana; Dusty Rhodes & Sapphire beat "Macho KING" Randy Savage and Queen Sherri in a mixed tag-team bout; The Orient Express beat the Rockers by countout; Hacksaw Jim Duggan pinned Dino Bravo; Ted DiBiase beat Jake Roberts by count out to regain his "Million Dollar Belt"; Big Boss Man pinned Akeem; Rick Rude pinned "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka. Also worth noting is a special appearance by Honky Tonk Man and Greg Valentine, who came to ringside in a pink Cadillac, driven by none other than Diamond Dallas Page!

As 1991 began, the United States was being drawn into a war in the Middle East. While patriotism swelled for our boys fighting in Operation Desert Storm, one WWF Superstar was siding with the enemy. Former "Real American Hero" Sgt. Slaughter had aligned himself with the Iraqi General Adnan and had challenged the Ultimate Warrior for his WWF title at the Royal Rumble. Slaughter won the belt with some timely assistance from Randy Savage, who beaned Warrior with his "royal" sceptre. As Slaughter mocked the United States, the call went out for a true hero to defend his country's honor and bring the belt back where it belonged. That man was Hulk Hogan. Their battleground: WrestleMania VII. On March 24, 1991, the Los Angeles Sports Arena rocked as Hulk Hogan soundly defeated the turncoat Sarge and brought the WWF Title back to the US, and as the cameras faded, Hogan proudly waved his country's flag in celebration.

Meanwhile, the Ultimate Warrior, having been cost his WWF title through the chicanery of the "Macho King" Randy Savage, challenged Savage to put his career on the line in a match at WrestleMania. Savage accepted, and the two men fought in a titanic struggle. Finally, after 20 exhausting minutes, Warrior landed three shouldertackles and pinned the Macho Man with simply a foot on his chest. Following the match, Sensational Sherri berated Savage and began kicking him and beating him when who should come out of the stands but the woman whose affections Savage had spurned two years ago, the lovely Elizabeth! Liz threw the now-deposed Queen from the ring and was reunited with Randy Savage as he went off into retirement.

In other matches: The Rockers beat The Barbarian & Haku (who would later be known as the Faces of Fear); Kerry Von Erich pinned Dino Bravo; Davey Boy Smith pinned the Warlord; The Nasty Boys beat the Hart Foundation to win the WWF Tag Team titles; Jake Roberts pinned Rick Martel in a blindfold match; The Undertaker (making his WrestleMania debut) beat "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka; Koji Kitao & Genichiro Tenryu beat Demolition; Big Boss Man beat Intercontinental Champion Curt Hennig by DQ (Andre the Giant was at ringside for this match, his final WrestleMania appearance); Earthquake pinned Greg Valentine: The Legion of Doom beat Paul Roma & Hercules in 59 seconds; Virgil beat Ted DiBiase by countout; and Jacques Rougeau pinned Tito Santana.

1992 began with a shocker as Ric Flair won the Royal Rumble to win the WWF title. Fans anticipated a Hogan-Flair matchup at WrestleMania, and the WWF set up a 1-900 number for fans to vote for who they would like to see get the shot at Flair and they overwhelmingly voted for Hogan, who did receive the shot, but bowed out to face Sid Justice after the future "Psycho" walked out on him during a tag match against Flair and the Undertaker. Hogan's title shot was given to Randy Savage, and we had a double main event.

In the weeks prior to WrestleMania VIII, the WWF began touting Hogan's match with Sid as his final match. On April 5, 1992, at the Hoosier Dome in Indianapolis, Sid and Hogan had quite a brawl, but it ended in a DQ when Harvey Whippleman, Sid's manager got involved. Moments later, Papa Shango came out to assist Sid, and all seemed hopeless for Hogan. Suddenly, the familiar driving beat came over the loudspeakers as the Ultimate Warrior, who had been missing since SummerSlam the previous year came out to assist Hogan, and the two celebrated into the night.

Meanwhile, Ric Flair (in his only WrestleMania appearance)and Randy Savage fought an unbelievable bout that saw Flair become a bloody mess by the midway point of the bout. Savage would eventually come out with the pinfall thanks to a handful of tights. Continuing with the theme of bloody matches, Bret Hart, bloodied but not bowed, pinned Rowdy Roddy Piper to win his second Intercontinental title. In other bouts, Shawn Michaels (in his first WrestleMania singles bout) beat Tito Santana; Tatanka pinned Rick Martel; The Natural Disasters beat Money Inc. (Ted DiBiase & Irwin R. Schyster) by countout when Money Inc. walked out of the match to save their tag team titles; Virgil, Big Boss Man, Hacksaw Duggan, and Sgt. Slaughter beat Repo Man, The Mountie, and the Nasty Boys; The Undertaker pinned Jake Roberts after giving him a Tombstone on the concrete floor of the arena; and Owen Hart pinned Skinner.

The next year, WrestleMania IX was held at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas on April 4, 1993, in what was billed as the "World's Largest Toga Party." The card was held outside and the audience would be treadted to such sights as Randy Savage being carried in on a litter and Jim Ross in a toga. Ponder that image for a moment and you'll get a general idea of what has been pretty much panned as the WORST WrestleMania ever. In the main event, Bret Hart defended his WWF title against Yokozuna, who had won the Royal Rumble that year to earn the title shot. Bret Hart had Yokozuna in the Sharpshooter when Mr. Fuji, Yokozuna's manager, threw salt in Bret's eyes, allowing Yokozuna to get the pin. Now here's where things got REALLY squirrelly. Hogan came out to check on the Hitman when Fuji began taunting Hogan, issuing a challenge to the "Hulkster" then and there. Hogan accepted the challenge, and quickly upended Yokozuna after Fuji missed with another handful of salt and nailed Yokozuna. Hogan won his fifth and final WWF title, ending Yokozuna's reign at just over 2 minutes.

In other matches: Tatanka beat Intercontinental champion Shawn Michaels by DQ; The Steiner Brothers (making their only WrestleMania appearance) beat the Headshrinkers; Doink pinned Crush after a SECOND Doink nailed Crush with a foreign object while the ref was unconscious; Razor Ramon pinned Bob Backlund; Money Inc. beat Hulk Hogan & Brutus Beefcake by DQ to retain the WWF Tag Team titles; Lec Luger (making his WrestleMania debut) pinned Curt Hennig; and The Undertaker beat Giant Gonzales by DQ.

WrestleMania IX would be the last for Hulk Hogan, who had carried the WWF through the 1980s and into the 1990s. When Hogan left the federation after losing the title to Yokozuna at King of the Ring, many people wondered who would carry the WWF in the years to come. Next time we'll see how the WWF managed to bring the "Next Generation" to the forefront, starting with WrestleMania X.

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