WWF Wrestlemania X-8
by Scrooge McSuck
- 12 years after WrestleMania VI, the WWF returns to the Skydome in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on March 17th, 2002. This was one of the most thrown together WrestleMania cards I can think of, with rushed booking for the "top" matches, and a joke of a main event that centered around everyone except the actual World Champion. As usual for the WWF in this time frame, Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler are on the call for all of tonight's matches. I'm also ignoring the musical performances of Saliva and Drowning Pool, since I don't care for either of them.
- Rikishi, Scotty 2 Hotty, Albert vs. Mr. Perfect, Lance Storm, Test:
These threesomes had some kind of undercard program for the past few weeks on Heat and Raw, but nothing major. Mr. Perfect is making his first appearence in a WrestleMania ring since they were in Las Vegas for WrestleMania IX. Really rushed match, but nothing too bad. Everyone brawls towards the end, leaving Rikishi and Perfect in the ring. Rikishi tries for a Stink-Face, but Perfect blocks it with his towel... and it's stuck in Rikishi's cheeks. AHHHHHHHHH! Rikishi finishes him off soon after though, with the Banzai Drop at 3:06. Poor Hennig... he won maybe 2-3 television matches in his 5-month run in 2002. (*1/4)
- WWF Intercontinental Championship Match:
William Regal © vs. Rob Van Dam:
For the second year straight, Regal gets to open WrestleMania in an Intercontinental Title match, but this year he's the reigning champion, defeating Edge for the strap at the 2002 Royal Rumble. No history between these two, as I remember RVD winning a #1 Contenders match against Lance Storm and the Big Show on Raw 2 weeks eariler. Decent match, but nothing spectacular, and pretty damn rushed for a show that has four hours to fill. If this isn't a total clash of styles, I don't know what is. After a few minutes of back-and-forth action that seems more suitable for an episode of Raw or Smackdown (or Heat), RVD wins his first Intercontinental Championship following the 5-Star Frog Splash at 6:19 (dial Rey Mysterio!). RVD's reign wouls be cut short by a returning Eddie Guerrero at the following PPV, Backlash. (**)
- WWF European Championship Match:
Diamond Dallas Page © vs. Christian:
In about a 5 month period, DDP went from being one of the top stars on the WCW side during the Invasion to fighting over the second worst and least important championship in the company (third if you count the Womens, and who does?). Christian had been on a losing streak and doing a cry baby gimmick. Guess how over he got by doing that. DDP decided to take Christian under his wing, and after helping him win a match against Billy Gunn, Christian turned heel again... gotta love that long term booking! Another decent match that would seem better fit for one of the weekly television shows, since neither guy was being pushed hard enough on television to warrant a spot at WrestleMania, and it's super rushed once again. DDP retains with the Diamond Cutter at 6:08, but ended up losing the title a week or so later, probably to William Regal. The hell if I can remember, though. Christian went from this to being an Anti-American flag burner, and DDP retired soon after following an injury during a match with Hardcore Holly. (*1/2)
- WWF Hardcore Championship Match:
Maven © vs. Goldust:
Speaking of worthless championships... after Rob Van Dam and the Undertaker made the belt more than a piece of tin, they give it to Maven (the Tough Enough Guy), and shit all over it once again with stuff like this. After a few minutes into the match, featuring garbage cans painted gold because Goldust is wrestling, Spike Dudley runs in to steal a victory from Maven. Then backstage the Hurricane wins the title. Then Mighty Molly wins the title. Then Christian (in a funny spot) wins the title. Then finally Maven wins the title back, causing Christian to throw a temper tantrum. All this happend over the course of the show, so I just wanted to put it all here. As for the original match, nothing to write home about. (1/2*)
- Kane vs. Kurt Angle:
Trivia Time! It's WrestleMania, and two of your top of the card wrestlers don't have a match. What do you do? The answer is put them in a match together with minimal build up, of course! Angle apparently "blames" Kane for not being in the Main Event of tonights show. If that makes any sense, I owe everyone $20. This was during the prime of Angle's run as he was still improving and not near putting himself in a wheel-chair yet, and Kane was showing some signs of motivation still. Good match, with Angle bringing the psychology (and busting out new moves like the jump-up-and-throw-opponent-off-top rope spot), while Kane does his best to keep up with him. Both men kick out of each others finishing moves, but an ugly finish sees both men fuck up a roll-up spot pretty fucking badly, and Angle picks up the cheap victory at 10:45. Ouch, that looked really ugly. I have to knock off a little from the rating for that fuck-up. Not as good as other matches they had around this time, but still one of the better matches on the card, and I'm not too sure how much of a compliment that could be. (**3/4)
- Ric Flair vs. The Undertaker:
No Disqualification stipulation for this match, which really should've set up the Undertaker's first loss at WrestleMania (at the time, 9-0, and not competing at WM X or XVI). The booking also points to Flair going over, as Undertaker pretty much dominated the entire feud by kicking Flair's ass, and beating the shit out of Arn Anderson and his son David Flair over the course of the last few weeks. In the estimated 10 encounters these two had, Flair may have gotten the best of the Undertaker two times tops. For two guys who combine for an age of over 90, this isn't too bad, but really fucking dull. Lots of brawling, with both men doing some blading. I've seen better from both men, but what are you going to do? Their old bodies need that blood more than they did 10 or so years ago. High spot of the match is Arn Anderson running in out of nowhere to plant the Undertaker with his signature spinebuster. That only gets a two count. Undertaker no-sells being put in the Figure Four, and after failing to perform the Last Ride (powerbomb), he opts to just put Flair away with the Tombstone Piledriver at 18:47. Blech, they could've taken 6 minutes off of this baby and divide it up for the two matches earlier in the show that were rushed. Undertaker is now 10-0 at WrestleMania, and way to go with making Flair look like shit in this feud. Can't even win when cheating to get his revenge. (**1/2)
- Edge vs. Booker T:
Here's some stupid booking for you: This was set up because Edge won a sponsorship deal to sell Japanese Shampoo, and Booker didn't. WHO THE FUCK COMES UP WITH THIS SHIT?! And why haven't we seen these Edge commercials?! I WANT SOME JAPANESE SOAP SHAMPOO COMMERCIALS, NOW! Wow, I need some anger management. Edge is the hometown boy here, and it's funny since when they returned to Toronto for SummerSlam '04, the crowd was completely against him. Anyway, much like the first few matches on the show, this one is also rushed to the point it's not worth trying to work psychology into it. After some stuff happens, Edge finishes Booker off with the Implant DDT, later named the Edge-o-cution or whatever the fuck he came up with. Not a very good match, either. (*)
- "Stone Cold" Steve Austin vs. Scott Hall (w/ Kevin Nash):
After being the focal point of his last 4 WrestleMania appearences, Austin is shunted down the card pretty damn bad. At least he was allowed to make the New World Oder his bitches for the most part, which shows WWF once again making a joke out of people who fucked him over badly during the Monday Night Wars. If it isn't WWF, it's getting buried must be his ruling on 90% of everything he does. It's pretty obvious Austin isn't going balls out for this match. It's just some really lame brawling with Austin making Hall AND Nash his bitches once again. Outside of a few offense spurts, this match is all Austin, and he wins it pretty easily by stunnering Hall into the next bar twice at 9:51. Austin ended up no-showing the next Raw in protest to the poor quality of booking decisions being made, and walked out for good (well, for 8 months) shortly before the King of the Ring. Scott Hall would be fired about a month later due to the Plane ride from Hell incident, and Nash spent most of his WWF run on the injured list, including tearing his quad walking across the ring 2 seconds after returning from another injury! (1/2*)
- WWF Tag Team Championship Match:
Chuck & Billy © vs. The Hardy Boyz (Matt & Jeff) vs. The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray & D'Von) (w/ Stacy Keibler) vs. The APA (Bradshaw & Faarooq):
Elimination rules for this match, meaning the last team standing walk out of WrestleMania as the tag team champions. This show is just dragging at this point. If you've seen one 4-corners tag match you've seen them all, since it's usually just a giant cluster-fuck with nonsense booking. The first elimination comes when the Dudleys plant Bradshaw with the 3-D at 3:25 (wow, he went from jobbing to the Duds in 3 minutes to co-main eventing WrestleManai 3 years later). A REALLY boring triple threat occurs now until the Hardy Boyz finish off their lifetime brother rivals with the twist of fate and swanton bomb on Bubba Ray at 11:48. Thankfully the match ends soon after, as Billy Gunn knocks out Jeff with a championship belt and makes the cover to retain the titles at 13:50. I hate quoting a certain you-know-who, but this was 15-minutes of my life I won't be getting back any time soon. (1/2*)
- The Rock vs. "Hollywood" Hulk Hogan:
This is the only reason to see WrestleMania X-8. At this point of the night, I was bored out of my skull from the previous 9 matches, since none of them really felt like "WrestleMania" quality matches (or maybe I was soiled by WrestleMania X-Seven). A few weeks back, Hogan made his return with the nWo at No Way Out (nWo at NWO... how clever!), and the next night, Rock/Hogan came face-to-face, leading up to a challenge for WrestleMania. A beatdown result on the Rock was obvious, but the booking team never knows when to stop, as Hogan "laid the smackdown on his crippled ass" by ramming the ambulance he was in with a truck. Several times. And he kept saying that same line every 20 seconds. Naturally, the Rock returned a week later, showing no signs of injuries, thanks to the magic tape on his ribs. Dynamite Kid should've invested money into those so he wouldn't have ended up in his current condition. Bottom line, Hogan is the ultimate heel going in, and the Rock is the super babyface.
Too bad this is Toronto, and Hogan is pretty much a God in Canada for some reason, so the crowd is pro-Hogan and pro-Rock as the match begins, where we get them going face-to-face while flash bulbs go off like it was Roger Clemens' last pitch in the 2003 World Series. To say this was a good wrestling match would be an over-statement. It's not, and nowhere close to it. It's generally a sloppy match with both men having their timing way off at points, and Hogan was severely limited in the ring at this point. However, it's the crowd that makes it a deciding factor, being rabid throughout, and popping huge for almost everything. It isn't until mid-match that the crowd turns on the Rock, and that's where both men show some form of talent in the ring. Obviously picking up on the vibes of the crowd, the Rock and Hogan successfully switch sides, with the Rock playing to the crowd with heel manuerisams and generally not being Mr. Sportsman, while Hogan eats up the crowds support and takes a sympathy beating before HULKING UP! And that, honestly, might've been the loudest pop I've ever heard for a WWF spot, rivaled only by the crowd at Canadian Stampede for the introductions of the Hart Foundation. I'm not ashamed to say I was eating this match up like a mark again, ignoring the fact it wasn't good, and just enjoying myself. Hogan with the punch-punch-punch-big boot-leg drop, but the Rock kicks out at two! Hogan tries again, but this time Rocky moves out of the way. A few Rock Bottoms and a people's elbow later, and the Rock puts himself in the record books of being one of the few people to get a clean pin over Hulk Hogan at 16:23. I'll ignore the People's Elbow completely missed, too. Post-match, the nWo come out to bitch up Hogan for failing, but the Rock turns face again, making the save, and it's Posedown time! Hogan would go on to turn face the next night, and a few weeks later, retired the nWo colors and brought back the red and yellow. Now for the rating... on the wrestling scale, it's barely *, but the atmosphere and nostalgia factor makes it a really enjoyable experience, and over-shadows the horrible wrestling. This rating is argumental, but doing so with me is a waste of time. (***)
- WWF Womens Championship Match:
Jazz © vs. Trish Stratus vs. Lita:
No one cares, because the crowd is fucking dead after wasting themselves in the last match (and for good reason). The highspot of the match is Jim Ross' commentary, saying "Trish is jerking Lita off... of the top rope", and yes, he did pause between the words. Jazz retains, I don't care, and neither does the crowd, who is sitting on their hands for hometown hero Trish, who's sucking up by wearing ring attire designed as the Canadian flag.
- WWF Undisputed Championship Match:
Triple H © vs. Stephanie McMahon (w/ Chris Jericho):
Whoops, I fucked up there. It's actually Chris Jericho defending against Triple H with Stephanie McMahon in Jericho's corner, but going by the build up, I'm sure no one would know the difference. I heard Triple H threw a hissy-fit because the original plan was to have Hogan/Rock end the show. Since it didn't, the crowd isn't into this one at all. Or maybe it's because the booking was so bad, they saw right through this like wet underpants. Boring match with very little in terms of doubt for who's winning. We all know Trips was walking out of the show champion. They tried building up a "Jericho injured Trips' knee before the show", but Triple H manages to no sell long enough to finish off both Jericho and Stephanie (who was really hot looking in this period, before her tits were sagging and she gained 30 pounds), and win the titles at 18:41. Hunter's chase for the gold and run were so over that Vince jobbed him out to Hulk Hogan a month later at Backlash, in hopes that Hogan could save the day with buyrates and ratings going down the toilet. That didn't work, and the ratings just kept sliding until they remained in the 3.0-4.0's area as of this typing (February 28th, 2006). What a way to end WrestleMania. An unover babyface Triple H holding up two belts. Yay. (**1/4)
Final Thoughts: Total one match show, and only if you're not completely a blind Hogan hater. Nothing else stands out as great, and the few "good" matches weren't good enough to save 4 hours of junk. Mild Recommendation to Avoid, but try checking out Rock/Hogan, which is probably available on other DVD's.
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