Thoughts Wrestlemania IX

takergonzalezSo one of the great things about the WWE Network (beyond the fact you don’t have to pay $40+ a go for PPVs) is the access to a slew of archive mate­rial. Currently I’m working my way through old episodes of RAW starting from the begin­ning in 1994 and slot­ting in the PPVs (also avail­able as part of the subscrip­tion) as they fit in the flow.

Which means I just recently watched Wrestle­mania IX and it’s actu­ally the first time I’ve ever seen it although I’ve read about or seen many of the matches refer­enced previously.

One of the first things I noticed is that in many ways WWE’s (or WWF as it was then) booking style really hasn’t changed that much. Admit­tedly they’ve gotten just a touch subtler in their delivery in some areas, but let’s take a quick look at some of the elements in play for this PPV:

  • There’s a giant, but he’s a terrible wrestler
  • There’s a wrestler who’s in love with his own image
  • There’s a foreign heel who needs to be stood up to by a right­eous American
  • There’s a cheap title change.

If you’ve watched WWE in the last 10 years you’ll prob­ably recog­nize every­thing on that list. So while the presen­ta­tion has gotten slicker, the booking basi­cally is what it always is.

Some other thoughts that occurred to me as I watched the show:

  • The Steiners (yes Rick and Scott) really could wrestle 20 years ago. Their match against The Head­shrinkers (one hartwmixarea WWE has made some progress is being less blatantly racist, Again this is only 20 years ago) is actu­ally one of the wrestling high­lights of the show.
  • Tatanka vs. Shawn Michaels was a well told match but slower than I expect from Shawn Michaels. The product as a whole was slower paced mind you.
  • This (and the preceeding RAWs) is the first time I’ve actu­ally watched Bob Back­lund wrestle. His gimmick and behavior is distract­ingly dorky, but I rather enjoyed his old school wrestling style.
  • Giant Gonzalez really, really, really couldn’t wrestle. I mean this makes Khali look good.
  • Hot shot­ting the title off Brett Hart and back onto Hogan (via Yokozuna)… Yeah the Cena/Hulk compar­isons are pretty obvious aren’t they?

As PPVs go, this was not a strong show really. Plenty of spec­tacle certainly, but the wrestling was lack­luster mostly. Easily the strongest point is that this was the first PPV where Jim Ross did the play by play commen­tary and compared to McMahon’s perfor­mance on RAW it was heav­enly. In truth I think his work here was better than a fair amount of Gorilla Monsoon’s work (and that will get me in trouble I’m sure).

So… anyone else have WWE Network and if so what are you watching?

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