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OO ROAD TO WRESTLEMANIA
Road to WrestleMania X-8: A Compulsive 
Fan's Guide to the Granddaddy of 'Em All
Part Three of Four

by Rick Scaia
OnlineOnslaught.com

 

WM Trivia:  The Stuff Not Even JR Knows (Not That He'd Want To....)

Some odd trends and occurrences have dotted WrestleMania's history....   and they are often the things that give depth and perspective to the entire WM phenomenon.  Here, I'll try to glance back and put a little order to all of it with some bizarre and obscure observations:

  • All the WrestleManias taken together have been a pretty consistently fun-to-watch batch of shows.  However, some stand head-and-shoulders above the rest. The truly great WrestleManias have been (in order, starting with the best): WrestleMania 3 (Hogan/Andre, Steamboat/Savage, and over 90,000 fans!!  Wow!),   WrestleMania 10 (Razor/Shawn Ladder Match, Bret Hart wins title after losing excellent match to Owen),  WrestleMania X-7 (last year's event -- headlined by Rock/Austin -- was pretty much considered an instant classic by all), and WrestleMania 12 (Hart/Shawn Ironman Match, Piper/Goldust brawl).

  • But some 'Manias have disappointed.  Among the weaker WrestleManias (in order, starting with the worst): WrestleMania 9 (Hogan/Yoko/Hart title debacle with Hogan regaining title in unscheduled match), WrestleMania 13 (lackluster show from the WWF's nadir; Maivia vs. the Sultan was the IC Title match!  Only saving grace:  Austin/Hart I Quit match made Austin a star!), WrestleMania 7 (Hogan/Slaughter main event in a match playing off of anti-Iraq sentiment at the time), WrestleMania 4 (World Title tourney:  too many short matches was the result)

  • Over 13 years, WrestleMania has provided a lot of good matches... but six of them really stand out, not only as the best matches in WrestleMania history, but the best matches ever seen on PPV. They are:
    • Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon -- Ladder Match (WM10)
    • Ricky Steamboat vs. Randy Savage -- IC Title Match (WM3)
    • Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin -- Submission Match (WM13)
    • Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart -- Ironman Match (WM12)
    • Edge/Christian vs. Dudleys vs. Hardys -- Ladder Match (WM2000) AND TLC2 (WMX-7)
    • Other notably fun matches:  Hulk Hogan vs. Warrior (WM6), Steve Austin vs. Shawn Michaels (WM14), Shawn Michaels vs. Diesel (WM11), Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart (WM10), Ric Flair vs. Randy Savage (WM8), Roddy Piper vs. Bret Hart (WM8), Steve Austin vs. the Rock (WMX-7)

  • Looking back at each of the first 17 WrestleManias, it's interesting to note how many from each show remain affiliated with the WWF.
    • From WM1, WM2, and WM3, only Hulk Hogan remains active on the WWF roster.  [Counting non-wrestling personalities still associated with the WWF, the Fabulous Moolah was at WM1 and WM2, and Hillbilly Jim was at WM2 and WM3.]
    • From the WM4 line-up, Haku and Hulk Hogan are both still wrestlers under the WWF banner (Haku is in the developmental territories)...  
    • From WM5, Hogan, Haku, Big Bossman, and Mr. Perfect are still active in the WWF.  Shawn Michaels and Arn Anderson are still with the WWF, too, albeit not in in-ring capacities.
    • WM6 also featured only Hogan, Bossman, Haku, and Perfect from the current WWF roster (and only Michaels from among the current non-wrestlers).
    • At WM7, the Hogan/Bossman/Haku/Perfect quartet all appeared again, and were supplemented by the Undertaker in terms of present WWF workers.  [Shawn Michaels was also on the card.]
    • Hogan, Bossman, and Undertaker are the current WWF reps from WM8.  The current non-wrestling roster represented at WM8 is equally as large, and includes Ric Flair, Shawn Michaels, and Sgt. Slaughter.
    • From the WM9 line-up there are six survivors on the WWF roster today:  Hogan, Taker, Perfect, Goodfather (then, Papa Shango), Rikishi (then, Headshrinker Fatu), and Scott Hall (then, Razor Ramon).
    • Scott "Razor Ramon" Hall is the only performer from WM10 active with the WWF today, and at that show, he wrestled the only other man from that show still with the WWF in any capacity (Shawn Michaels).
    • Kevin "Diesel" Nash, Hall, Undertaker, and Billy Gunn are the only three men from WM11 still with the WWF.  
    • Once again at WM12, a full five men from the active WWF roster were present: Steve Austin, Triple H, Nash, Goldust, and Undertaker.
    • For the remaining Mania's there were more than five current WWF performers on each card:  eight at WM13, 11 at WM14 (plus three more non-active performers), 13 at WM15 (plus three more non-active performers), and 28 (plus four more injured/developmental/inactive performers) at WM2000.
    • A full 23 of the 29 in-ring performers from last year's WMX-7 are still on the WWF active roster (note:  this figure does NOT count the Gimmick Battle Royal participants).  Four more (Shane and Vince McMahon, plus Raven and Chris Benoit) are not presently active, but are still with the WWF.  Only two of last year's workers have moved on from the WWF (Chyna and Eddie Guerrero).

  • The longest lay-off between WrestleMania matches is 14 years; thanks to last year's Gimmick Battle Royal, the Iron Sheik can now lay claim to this honor, having had 14 years between his in-ring WM appearances (WM3 until WMX-7).  Sheik DID have a non-wrestling role at WM13.. Other lengthy lay-offs:
    • Barry Windham -- 12 years (WM1 till WM13)
    • Terry Funk -- 12 years (WM2-WM14)
    • Lelani Kai -- 9 years (WM1- WM10)
    • Matt Bourne/Doink the Clown (the original) -- 8 years (WM1-WM9)
    • Big Bossman -- 7 years (WM8-WM15)
    • Bam Bam Bigelow -- 6 years (WM4-WM10)
    • Ultimate Warrior -- 5 years (WM7-WM12)
    • This year's WMX-8 is going to massively impact this list, as returnees Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, and Scott Hall are all already confirmed for the card.  Flair's WM lay-off will be an impressive TEN years (WM8-WM18), Hogan's will be 9 years (WM9-WM18), and Hall's will be 7 years (WM11-WM18).  If Kevin Nash winds up active on the card this year, it'll be 6 years (WM12-WM18), and if Mr. Perfect wrestles on the PPV he will duplicate Hogan's 9 year lay-off (WM9-WM18).

  • The only three men to appear at both the very first WM and last year's WMX-7 are:  the Iron Sheik, Nikolai Volkoff, and Howard Finkel; the first two were active wrestlers at #1, but were gimmick performers in last year's Battle Royal, while Howard Finkel gets on this unique list by being a ring announcer at both events.
    • Finkel is the only person to appear at EVERY WrestleMania to date, and I doubt that streak's gonna end this year.
    • When we make this observation next year, we'll be able to do it without resorting to nostalgia match gimmicks or ring announcers:  Hulk Hogan will be a legit in-ring performer at both the first and most recent WMs after this year!

     

  • Until WM2000, a heel had NEVER walked out of WrestleMania as the champion:  good always prevailed in the main event.  After WM1/2/3, the champ was Hulk Hogan.  Randy Savage was the champ after WM4, then turned heel and dropped the title back to Hogan at WM5.  Ultimate Warrior took at the strap at WM6 in a face/face match.  Hogan regained it from the evil Sgt. Slaughter at WM7.  Randy Savage -- back to being a babyface -- won the title from Ric Flair (who lost his only WM match ever) at WM8.  WM9 saw Hogan beat Yokozuna for the belt.  Yoko lost the belt again at WM10, this time to Bret Hart.  Diesel beat Shawn Michaels at WM11.  Michaels turned face and rebounded by winning the title at WM12.  The Undertaker defeated Sid to win his second title at WM13.  At both WM14-15, the beloved Steve Austin walked out with the big title belt. 
    • Triple H broke that streak at WM2000, walking out victorious in the four-way main event title match.  Few expected him to retain his title and break the 15 year tradition, but he did.
    • Steve Austin made it two WMs in a row for the heels; he walked into WMX-7 last year as a fan favorite, but turned heel in the match's final moments and won the strap.

  • In the two "straight up" WM Battle Royals to date, Bret Hart was the last man to be eliminated. At WM2, Andre the Giant tossed Hart out to win the match; at WM4, Bad News Brown pearl harbored Bret after the two agreed to accept a draw.  Another note of interest from the first two WM Battle Royals (held at WM2 and WM4):  the Killer Bees -- B. Brian Blair and Jim Brunzell -- along Hart's partner Jim Neidhart and Hillbilly Jim were the only other men men to compete in both matches!

  • After the early WM tradition brought us 2 Battle Royals in 3 years, we've book-ended the WM tradition with three more BR's in the last 4 years.  However, the battles themselves have been anything but traditional.  The WM14 BR was a tag team affair, the WM2000 BR was a hardcore title match, and WMX-7 brought us the infamous "Gimmick Battle Royal"! 
    • Hillbilly Jim, the Iron Sheik, and Nikolai Volkoff are the only three men to appear in one of the early BRs AND one of the more recent ones (by virtue of the Gimmick BR).  In fact, Hillbilly Jim appeared in BOTH early BRs as well as last year's Gimmick Battle Royal, making him the only man in WM's history to wrestle in three Battle Royals.
    • Mosh, Thrasher, Bradshaw, Faarooq, and Bob Holly are the five men to appear in both of the non-gimmick recent affairs.
    • If Bret Hart was the master of the early pair of BRs, then Bob Holly gets that honor for the latter day ones:  he was (as a member of the New Midnight Express) eliminated last in the WM14 tag BR, and he was victorious in the WM16 hardcore BR!
    • At present, it appears the the recent string of Battle Royals on the WM card will end this year...

  • When the Big Bossman and Undertaker met at WrestleMania 14, it was the first time ever that two undefeated WrestleMania Veterans (four or more Manias) clashed in the ring at a WM.  Undertaker won the Hell in the Cell match, boosting his record to a perfect 8-0, while Bossman fell to a still-respectable 4-1.
    • An honorable mention goes to the Undertaker/Triple H match from WMX-7, where the combined WM record between the two was an amazing 12 wins and 1 loss (Taker was 8-0, HHH was 4-1); Taker won to keep his undefeated record intact, while HHH fell to 4-2.

  • Last year, the Rock set an incredible record by wrestling in a title match in all of his first five WM appearances.  He had, previously, been tied with Randy Savage (wrestling in title matches in their first four Manias).  Both Savage and the Rock debuted with back-to-back IC Title matches, and then moved on to back-to-back WWF Title matches.  Both Savage and Rock split their first four matches.  At WMX-7, claimed the record outright by wrestling in his third consecutive WWF Title match (he lost).

  • Demolition Ax and Smash get special mention as they appeared in title matches in each of their first three WrestleManias...  but unlike the Rock and Savage, they WON ALL THREE.

  • Owen Hart has also established himself as something of a tag team title expert on the WrestleMania landscape.  Before his untimely death, Owen wrestled in three Tag Title matches, and more incredibly, did it with three different partners.  And on top of that, he NEVER LOST.  With Yokozuna, Owen won the tag titles at WM11 from Billy and Bart Gunn.  With Davey Boy Smith, Owen successfully defended the tag titles from Vader and Mankind at WM13 (the match was a draw, but it was a successful defense).  And at WM15, Owen and Jeff Jarrett successfully defended the tag titles from D'Lo Brown and Test.

  • If you check your WM video collection, you'll come across THREE matches between men who are currently deceased. At WM1, Andre the Giant wrestled Big John Studd. The second WM brought us a match between Adrian Adonis and Uncle Elmer. At WM7, Dino Bravo battled Kerry von Erich.  In addition to those six men, the wrestling world has seen the unfortunate deaths of these six WrestleMania legends:  Yokozuna, Owen Hart, Rick Rude, Junkyard Dog, Little Beaver, and Sapphire.  Referee Joey Marella and his father Gorilla Monsoon have also passed on after having left their mark on many WrestleManias.

  • Sid has only wrestled in two WM matches... but both were main events!  He lost them both:  at WM8 to Hulk Hogan and at WM13 to the Undertaker.

  • Three WMs have featured Double Main Events:
    • WM8: Ric Flair vs. Randy Savage, Hulk Hogan vs. Sid
    • WM9: Money, Inc. vs. the Mega-Maniacs, Bret Hart vs. Yokozuna (a show that also featured a third, unscheduled main event, as Yoko had to defend his newly-won title against Hulk Hogan in an impromptu final match)
    • WM11: Shawn Michaels vs. Diesel, Bam Bam Bigelow vs. Lawrence Taylor
    • It's unclear how the WWF will end up promoting this year's event, but HHH/Jericho for the WWF Title and Rock/Hogan are likely to be presented as a Double Main Event...

  • Charles Wright holds a unique distinction:  he's the only man to perform at WrestleMania under FOUR different gimmicks.  He was "Papa Shango" at WM8 (run-in only) and WM9, was known as Kama Mustafa at WM11 (ringside appearance only), wrestled as the Godfather at WM2000, and them morphed into the Goodfather for WMX-7.  An honorable three-gimmick mention goes to present day Rikishi (WM2000, WMX-7), who also wrestled as the Sultan (WM13) and Fatu (WM9).  After these two, there are a TON of two-timers we should quickly list:
    • Matt Bourne (WM1) came back as the original Doink the Clown (WM9); the Doink who wrestled at WM10 was a different guy.
    • Tito Santana (WM1/2/3/4/5/6/7) was "re-invented" as El Matador (WM8, WM9).
    • Mike Rotundo (WM1) returned to action as Irwin R. Shyster (WM8, WM9).
    • King Tonga (WM2) grew a beard and was renamed Haku (WM4, WM5, WM6, WM7).
    • Jacques Rougeau (WM3, WM4, WM5, and WM10) donned a RCMP uniform and was called simply "The Mountie" for two WM appearances (WM7 and WM8).  Jacques then pulled the rare "double reverse" by returning to his real name for a brief appearance at WM14.
    • The One Man Gang (WM4) morphed into Akeem the African Dream (WM5, WM6).
    • Demolition member Smash (WM4, WM5, WM6, WM7) became Repo Man (WM8).
    • Owen Hart (WM8/10/11/12/13/14/15) originally wrestled as the Blue Blazer (WM5).
    • Tom Pritchard of the Heavenly Bodies (dark match at WM10) was recreated as Bodydonna member Zip (Free For All Match at WM12).
    • Mick Foley appeared as Mankind at WM13, then as Cactus Jack at WM14.  Mick then pulled WM's second double reverse as he wrestled as Mankind again at WM15.
    • Once a lovable rapper, Mabel (WM10) matured into Viscera (WM2000).
    • Raven (WMX-7) was previously known as Johnny Polo in a managerial-only role at WM10.
    • Notes:  if you count Mick Foley wrestling as "Mick Foley" at WM2000, then I guess you could add him to the three-timers list.  This year's Mania might add to the list, as Scott Hall and Kevin Nash will both be appearing sans former gimmicks (Razor Ramon and Diesel, respectively)...

  • Can you believe that Brutus Beefcake and Sgt. Slaughter will both go down as having wrestled in WM main events? Irwin R. Shyster, too...  kind of devalues the whole thing for everybody else, doesn't it?

  • When Jerry Lawler missed last year's WMX-7, it was the first Mania he was not present at since WM8...  his eight consecutive year run (WM9-WM2000) is the best ever by a WM announcer, and was snapped when his contract negotiations fell apart, resulting in Paul Heyman replacing him on color.  Lawler, however, will return to the desk this year.

  • Bobby Heenan -- a manager -- wrestled in 2 WrestleManias! He was 1-1, getting a win when he teamed with the Islanders at WM4, but losing a one-on-one match to the Red Rooster (now WWF official Terry Taylor) at WM5.  Batting .500 is not bad for a manager!

  • Shane McMahon, another non-wrestler, may go down as having similar success as the years go on.  Already, he holds WM wins over X-Pac (WM2000) and his dad Vince (WMX-7).

  • There have been four mixed tag matches in WM history: one involved midgets teaming with full-size counterparts, two involved women teaming with male partners, and a third included both a woman AND a midget (each paired off with a male wrestler). Luna is the only person to have competed in two of these four matches (winning one and losing one).
    • In deference to Chyna ability to compete with men (as witnessed by an IC Title run), I'm not counting WM2000's six-person tag match as a genuine mixed tag. 

  • Yokozuna is the only man to wrestle more than once at 2 separate WrestleManias. He pulled double duty at both WM9 and WM10; both times, he first won a World Title match, and then proceeded to lose the World Title in the final match of the night.  Yoko was also booked into the main events on both those shows, which may make him one of the more under-appreciated WWF Superstars of the past decade.

  • Shawn Michaels is the Human Book End:  he's just as capable at EITHER end of the show.  In addition to his pair of main event appearances, Michaels is also the only man to have participated in three WM openers.  At WM7, the Rockers' win over Haku/Barbarian started the show; at WM8, Michaels got a singles win over Tito Santana in the opener; at WM9, the show kicked off with Michaels losing by count-out to Tatanka (he still retained his IC Title).
    • Paul Orndorff is the only man in WrestleMania history to go from main event (WM1) to opener (WM2) in one year's time.  Nobody's made the elevation from opener to main event in one year, although if this year's WMX-8 title match goes on last, Chris Jericho (opener last year against William Regal...  faces Triple H this year) would become the first.
    • Tito Santana (Wm8/9), Don Muraco (WM2/3), Davey Boy Smith (WM11/12), Rick Martel (WM3/6), Haku (WM5/7), and Owen Hart (WM10/12) are men who competed in two WM openers.
    • In compiling these numbers I did NOT include show-opening battle royals from WM4, WM14, or WM16.  That would taint the value of this observation, if you ask me.

  • In many cases, there's a match BEFORE the opener at WM...  dark matches and Free For All matches are -- for the sake of this document -- considered as part of the WrestleMania event (even if Sunday Night Heat matches are not).  Both the Bushwhackers and the Brooklyn Brawler participated in dark matches at two different Mania's.  The Bushwhackers split dark matches at WM8 and WM10 (beating the Beverly Brothers at WM8, then losing to the Heavenly Bodies at WM10).  The ever-suffering Brawler (who made his only on-air WM appearance by doing a run-in at WM5) lost both his WM matches, losing to Paul Roma at WM6 and Ko Ko B. Ware at WM7, both before the show went live on PPV.
    • And finally, perhaps the ultimate footnote:  Tom Pritchard is the only man to perform on both a Dark AND a Free For All Match.  He's never actually appeared on a WM PPV telecast, but he's undefeated in his unique WM experience, nonetheless.  As half of the Heavenly Bodies, he got a win over the Bushwhackers in the WM10 dark match.  Then, as "Zip" (half of the Bodydonnas), Pritchard won the tag titles courtesy of a win over the Godwins in the WM12 FFA Match.

 

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