Generally speaking, WrestleMania is supposed to be the biggest card of the year. It’s the night where all of the major feuds end, new storylines begin, and we get what WWE hopes are the big matches that everyone wants to see. For the most part, the event succeeds, usually getting a big buyrate and high DVD/Blu-Ray sales once it releases on those formats. While even the worst WrestleManias generally feature pretty good lineups that give fans something they really loved and don’t mind seeing over and over, there is at least one exception to this rule, and it is nearly universally considered the worst event in the show’s 28-year history: WrestleMania IX.
[adinserter block=”2″]WrestleMania IX took place on April 4th, 1993 from Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, NV. In order to host the “Granddaddy of Them All”, A special arena was built next to the hotel and casino specifically for this event. Despite being sold out and earning over a million dollars in ticket sales, the crowd consisted of less than 17,000 fans. After seeing the card, it’s honestly a miracle it drew even that many. The show featured 8 main card matches, a dark match and a “bonus” main event, if you could call it that. When the announce team of Gorilla Monsoon, Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, “Macho Man” Randy Savage, “Mean” Gene Okerlund and Jim Ross all made their appearances in full togas to go with the Roman theme of the locale, you knew things were off to a bad start. You might have thought, “Well, it HAS to get better from here.”
Well, you were wrong. So very, very wrong.
The main show (after the Tito Santana/Papa Shango dark match, that saw Santana get only his second win at a WrestleMania, but since it didn’t air, it doesn’t count) started off with Shawn Michaels defending Intercontinental title against Tatanka, who was in the middle of his nearly 2-year undefeated streak. While a match featuring Shawn Michaels might normally be worthwhile, the fact is, nobody really gave a damn about Tatanka, despite him being shoved down fans’ throats, and it really showed here. The crowd was pretty dead, and after nearly 20 minutes, Tatanka won via count-out. Count-out. At a WrestleMania. That’s never a good sign.
Fortunately, the next match, a tag affair pitting the Steiner Brothers against the Headshrinkers, was pretty good and fairly hard-hitting. The match saw Scott Steiner get the pinfall after a botched Frankensteiner, though, giving the only good match on the card a bad ending. However, it was a decent match, and it gave fans hope for the rest of the card.
Instead, each match seemed to get progressively worse than the last. Doink the Clown defeated Crush (and also lost all of his heel coolness when a second Doink interfered), Razor Ramon defeated Bob Backlund in a total snoozer, and Money Inc. retained their World Tag Team titles against the Mega Maniacs via disqualification (the third cheap finish of the night). Any time Hulk Hogan is on the card and isn’t booked either last or next to last, you know it means his night is not over yet. No matter how much you want to convince yourself he’s done, you will always be wrong. Anyway, to continue the card, Lex Luger beat Mr. Perfect in another dud, and the Undertaker beat Giant Gonzales, considered by many to be the worst wrestler in history, via disqualification (the fourth cheap finish, for those keeping score). I will definitely get to Gonzales another day.
Looking at this card already, this would have been bad even for a Coliseum Home Video release. Despite the overall star power on display, the matches just sucked. It seemed like not one guy could click with his opponent, and overall, the card felt like it was thrown together haphazardly about a week before the show, kind of like pretty much every TNA PPV.
The only match that really had any build was the main event, Yokozuna vs. Bret Hart for Hart’s WWF Championship. Yokozuna had won the Royal Rumble in January, guaranteeing his title match at the big show. Despite being a decent worker for being such a big man and being in the ring with one of the all-time greats in Hart, the match fell completely flat. Hart tried his damnedest to make the match watchable, but it just didn’t work, and when Bret Hart can’t make something work, you know things are really going to hell. After less than 10 minutes of action, Yokozuna defeated Hart after his manager, Mr. Fuji, threw salt in Hart’s eyes (cheap finish #5, BTW) and became the then-youngest WWF Champion in history. Now, you’d think that would be the end of the show, and if it had been, it would have made things a little better.
Obviously, you forgot Hogan was booked on this card.
In one of the most controversial moments in wrestling history, Hogan came out, challenged Yoko to an immediate title match, and proceeded to squash the new champion in less than a minute. In the aftermath, this was done in order to have Hogan eventually lose the belt back to Bret Hart, thus patching the torch, but that’s another story for another day. Needless to say, despite the fact that Hogan wasn’t drawing flies at this point, he was once again the top guy for no apparent reason, and the show ended with him celebrating with his fifth WWF Championship, a record at that time.
[adinserter block=”1″]Needless to say, fans were not pleased, and the show was universally panned by fans and wrestling critics. If you have never seen this show and still want to know how bad it was, when R.D. Reynolds, the owner of popular website Wrestlecrap.com – a site dedicated to the worst of pro wrestling-released his first book, the front and back cover photos were almost exclusively shots from this event. As for the ratings, they told the same story. Although higher than some of the following events (somehow), it still only drew a 2.3, with less than a million buys and making it the sixth lowest watched event in WrestleMania history.
If you’re ever in a position to book a major PPV event and want to know exactly what NOT to do, watch this show and do exactly the opposite of everything that you see.
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