SPLAT. NEW CHAMP.
(THE ONE WHERE VINCE SAID "SORRY ABOUT LAST YEAR, Y'ALLS")
The year was 1993 and Hulk Hogan had once again -- allegedly, or apparently, or probably -- produced dirty pictures of Vince McMahon. This wasn't the first time such a thing had taken place.
In 1989, Hogan presented Vince with some shots of him doing the dirty with one of Donald Trumps ladies of the night -- allegedly, or apparently, or probably. In so doing he convinced Vince to put the belt back on him even though Macho Man Randy Savage was more than carrying the load.
In late 1990, Hogan convinced Vince to take the belt off Ultimate Warrior (a smart move) and onto him by way of Sgt. Slaughter (not so smart). The result was a bad WrestleMania 7 in 1991 that almost was a disaster (venue change, fan backlash). How could such a thing happen, you ask? Apparently Vince's side project, the World Homebuilders Federation, had done some work for Saddam Hussein. "Let me tell you something, brother, light treason may not mean much to you, but to the Hulkster and the millions of FBI Hulkamaniacs you better believe it's a big deal!"
One year later, in 1992, Hogan strong-armed Vince into main eventing WrestleMania 8, though no title was on the line and though Savage and Flair was destined to put on a classic contest. What was the blackmail? Nudie pictures of Vince McMahon clutching a centerfold of World Bodybuilding Federation's August swimsuit issue.
Allegedly, or apparently, or probably.
So we arrive in 1993. Hulk Hogan returned skinnier and more orange than ever, wearing long pants and tag teaming in the mid-card of WrestleMania IX. Ha ha, his critics declared. Finally, the Hulkster was making room for new blood. Maybe he could even be a superstar enhancement talent to get younger guys ov......and then he wins the title.
Not only does he win the title, but he then goes home, does no house shows, returns at King of the Ring and promptly drops the title in his first defense against Yokozuna (the guy he beat in the first place). Then, he bolts and on his first opportunity he signs with WCW and beats Ric Flair for the world heavyweight championship in his first match with the company.
What the what?
To this day I have no idea how Hogan managed to talk Vince into burying the babyface champion who was supposed to replace him (Bret Hart) on his way to becoming champion of the rival promotion. That takes more than blackmail, that's some kind of voodoo (child).
Anyway, Bret was diminished, and won the King of the Ring as a consolation prize. That lead to his big comeback feud against Doink the Clown and Jerry Lawler.
....let's move on.
Yokozuna, who won the title at King of the Ring, feuded with Lex Luger on and off throughout the year. Hart basically dropped down the card and was used as a draw without the perks. He wrestled the popular matches, had the fun mid-card feuds, but mostly stayed away from the main event.
Until the 1994 Royal Rumble.
Bret and Luger co-won the match with Vince gauging the fan reaction to the two babyfaces. Bret was clearly the more popular babyface but Vince wanted to hedge his bets with Lex. Both men entered WrestleMania X with the opportunity to compete for the WWF Championship.
In the main event of the WrestleMania, Hart (again) faced Yokozuna (again) for the WWF title (again). This time, there was no Hulk Hogan in the shadows. There was no compromising picture of Vince McMahon and three million barrels of buried ICOPRO supplements. There was nothing but Bret and Yoko and this time Bret won.
Too bad the match suuuucked.
Okay, it wasn't bad but it was certainly not good. It wasn't nearly as fun as their previous encounter. Chalk the poorness of this one up to Yokozuna's massive weight gain between the 'Manias and the fact that the morbidly obese champion had already competed earlier that night. When I say Hart in his prime could not get a good match out of 2014's Batista, this is the match I think about. It was too slow, with too much big man over little man bumping around and had a laughably bad finish.
I don't know if Bret could have gotten Yoko into the sharpshooter, but if he could have, man, what a finish that would have been. Instead, the big man climbed up the turnbuckle for his Bonzai Drop and fell backwards onto the mat like road kill. All Bret had to do was fall on him and win the title. It was a very anticlimactic ending to a 10-month championship reign.
What could have improved this main event? To start with, the participants: Supposedly, Lex was supposed to go over Yokozuna in the first of the two championship bouts, but he ran his mouth at a bar and Vince changed the finish (eat that, Dolphins1925). In the original plan, Bret (who had just lost a thrilling match to brother Owen) would face Lex in the final match for the title and the two who tied at the Royal Rumble would break the tie at WrestleMania. That's a great finish and would have been a much better match.
You might be wondering why this main event is so high (17 out of 29 is not bad) if the match is so sub-par. The reason is, just like how a good match can be brought down by bad theatrics and outside circumstances (WrestleMania 18 for example), a bad match can be elevated by good theatrics. Seeing Hart hoisted on the shoulders of the WWF's babyface contingent and hearing Madison Square Garden roar in approval with Vince giving the Hitman a firm handshake, made up for the fiasco that ended Bret's initial title run at WrestleMania IX. Seeing Owen's "What about me?!" reaction also brought this main event to a new level.
Sound off, Cagesiders. I think this match is deserving of its spot, not too high, not too low. I have a hunch, however, that a lot of you think it should be lower on the list. Once again, I think a "main event" is about more than the bell-to-bell action. And this time, I think the peripheral circumstances elevated this one out of the bottom ten. Let us know your opinion in the comments below!
Tomorrow's main event was the first one actually designed to piss off fans. See you then!
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