34 Days of WrestleMania: How does WrestleMania IX when JR debuts in a toga, Hogan challenges Yokozuna hold up?

WrestleMania IX took place April 4, 1993 from the Caesars Palace in front of 16,891 people

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The last of the WrestleManias that I’m truly excited to watch from start to finish and then reflect on, just because I'm a wrestling fan, and hindsight is our kryptonite. A roster that featured Razor Ramon, Shawn Michaels, Bret Hart, Yokozuna, The Undertaker and Hulk Hogan, with Macho Man on commentary still with years in the tank mind you, produced a WrestleMania this stinky. 

Caesars Palace looks cool and everyone working for WWF/E, down to the cameramen, are donning togas outside the ring. It’s a fun thing that goes hand-in-hand with the venue, and sadly, is one of the more positive memories from this show because the booking here is extremely frustrating. Not only some of the booking decisions, but the finishes on this show are some of the worst in wrestling PPV history and not just Manias.

The worst part about looking back on WrestleMania IX, is that they were so much potential and talent here for a better show. Awesome looking venue in Vegas at Caesars Palace, though. the combination of tighter basketball arena and outdoor setting is very underutilized.

Outside of Jim Ross in a toga, there’s not a lot going on with this card that interests me.  It was a cool venue outside, which added to the spectacle of the show but it once again was, at the very, absolute best, a two-match card.

JR’s debut/toga, and Scott Steiner getting dropped on his head over the top rope into the outside are the things I remembered most about WrestleMania IX before hitting play. It's Hogan's finally WrestleMania until he faces The Rock at WrestleMania 18, so there's some nostalgia and hindsight reasons to watch this show. 

This is the first WrestleMania since IV, the tournament, not to feature Hulk Hogan in the billed main event. It’s Hogan and Brutus the Barber Beefcake, the Mega Maniacs, taking on Money Inc., Ted DiBiase and IRS, for the WWF tag team championship and Bret Hart vs. Yokozuna for the WWF Championship. In other matches, Shawn Michaels defends the Intercontinental Championship against Tatanka, Steiners vs The Headshrinkers, Doink the Clown vs Crush, Razor vs Bob Backlund, Luger vs Mr Perfect and Bret Hart (c) vs Yokozuna in the main event*. 

Favorite moments and matches

When it comes to memorable moments inside the ring, that honor easily goes to Shawn Michaels and Tatanka in the match for the Intercontinental Championship, The Headshrinkers vs. the Steiner Brothers (seriously), and holy crap, that’s it.

Seriously, my favorite moment from this show was when it was over, and I'm not talking about Hulk Hogan's shenanigans. I'm talking about a WWF Copyright logo, blank screen. 

The Steiners, in astoundingly their only WrestleMania match, had a fantastic, rough non-title tag match with The Headshrinkers. These two teams beat the crap out of each other, and the Steiners showed off their athleticism with an impressive double top-rope clothesline, and Scott somehow still manages to hit a Frankensteiner after getting dropped on his head thanks to the flapjack from hell. Really solid match that stands out on this card for the action and it actually being well-timed out at 14 minutes and some change. 

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Jim Ross making his WrestleMania debut was cool, and he, Macho Man Randy Savage and Bobby “The Brain” Heenan made for a fine commentary trio. Heenan is just savage on Luna Vachon and Tatanka in the opening match, but cools off to make for a great color guy to J.R.’s classic, ‘rasslin style.

So there you have it, a non-title tag team match and an IC championship match that had a confusing, terrible booked finish were the two best matches of the night. I have no other praise for this show. 

Least favorite moments and matches

The finish to this show would be considered pathetic even if it didn’t have the name WrestleMania attached to it. First, Yokozuna beats Bret Hart for the WWF Championship in less than 10 minutes after Mr. Fuji throws salt in The Hitman’s face. Yoko doesn’t leg drop Hart or splash him or Banzai him, but rather just rolls him up for the 1-2-3 after Bret gets some salt in his eyes. Yeah, he's a big boy and a pin from Yoko is a move in and of itself, but still it's the main event. 

After this, Hogan runs out, argues with the ref and then accepts Fuji’s challenge to face the newly-crowned champion for the title right then and there. Hogan avoids the salt and hits a leg drop to win the championship in less than 30 seconds to end the show. It would be his last WrestleMania appearance until facing The Rock at WrestleMania 18. This ending is the absolute worst in the history of WrestleMania. AND THAT INCLUDES HARVEY WIPPLEMAN IN WRESTLEMANIA VIII. Absolutely terrible, a step in the wrong direction back to Hulk Hogan, beating Bret Hart with salt and taking the title off Yokozuna in less than five minutes.

The Undertaker and Giant Gonzalez is a monstrosity. The match mercifully ends after Giant Gonzalez, the giant man in a nude mesh bodysuit, puts a cloth of chloroform over the Undertaker’s face. Yeah, that’s how ‘Taker put one W in the streak’s column.

Before that, Lex Luger (billed as The Narcissist) taking on Mr. Perfect in a nothing match. Perfect over sells for Luger like crazy and takes the loss to a guy I just never got or understood. But, hey, smart booking to put Luger with the master-seller that was Mr. Perfect. 

The 18-minute tag team title match between Hogan/Beefcake and DiBiase and IRS was one of the slowest moving, nothing-offense matches I’ve laid my eyes on in a long time. The most exciting highlights are Hogan’s giant black eye from a jet ski incident and Beefcake’s insane mask due to the parasailing accident that kept him out of action for three years.

The match is terrible, and ends in DQ with much confusion.

This show had three disqualification finishes. Other than The Steiner Brothers vs The Headshrinkers, HBK and Tatanka had a damn fine match that was ruined with a confusing finish. 

Oh, and Razor Ramon and Bob Backlund might have had the least in-ring chemistry I’ve ever seen.

Does it hold up?

I can’t sit here and recommend this show to you. The wrestling historian in me will tell you to watch it so you can understand the struggle it was for Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart to break through to the top with guys like Hogan and monsters like Yokozuna on the roster. They had been in tag teams for years, and now were in the IC and WWF Championship matches at WrestleMania, so that's worth something here. 

The finish to HBK’s match ruined the solid in-ring work with the then undefeated Tatanka and Bret was stuck working a match with a behemoth that had a doomed finish. I would recommend the months after this show on the WWE Network as the King of the Ring PPV following this one has a memorable bracket and the rematch between Yoko and Hulk, but not this show itself, no.