Tuesday, October 13, 2015

30 Days of WrestleMania: Looking back at WrestleMania X-8

Because of the WWE Network, fans can now watch every single WrestleMania from start to finish.

30 Days of WrestleMania: Looking back at WrestleMania X-8

Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

Because of the WWE Network, fans can now watch every single WrestleMania from start to finish.

So, for 30 days leading up to WrestleMania XXX, we will take an extensive look back at each event from the very first, to the most recent.

Here's the WrestleManias we've covered so far:

WM I | WM II | WM III | WM IV | WM V | WM VI | WM VII | WM VIII | WM IX | WM X | WM XI | WM XII | WM 13 | WM XIV | WM XV | WM 2000 | WM X-Seven

WrestleMania X-8

Date: March 17, 2002

Venue: SkyDome (Rogers Centre), Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Attendance: 68,237

Match Results:

Intercontinental Championship – Rob Van Dam def. William Regal

European Championship – Diamond Dallas Page def. Christian

Hardcore Championship – Spike Dudley, Hurricane, Mighty Molly, Maven and Christian held the title. Maven left with the championship

Kurt def. Kane

Undertaker def. Ric Flair (Undertaker: 10-0)

“Stone Cold” Steve Austin def. Scott Hall w/Kevin Nash

Fatal Four-Way Elimination for World Tag Team Championship – Billy & Chuck def. The Hardy Boyz (Matt & Jeff Hardy), the APA (Bradshaw & Farooq) & the Dudleys (Bubba Ray & D-Von Dudley

Icon vs. Icon – The Rock def. Hollywood Hogan

Triple Threat for Women’s Championship – Jazz def. Lita & Trish Stratus

Undisputed Championship – Triple H def. Chris Jericho w/Stephanie McMahon


- Although it didn’t close the show, the match that everyone was talking about walking away from the event was The Rock versus Hollywood Hogan. Not much can be said about this match that hasn’t already been said over and over again. I will say this, though. Not only did it live up to its billing, it far surpassed it. The match wasn’t great because of the moves that were executed during the match. It was great because of the story that was told and the energy that was exuded from the crowd. Hogan did everything he could to be big villain heading into the match, but once he got to Toronto, nostalgia took over and he became the good guy. The Rock on the other hand, was one of the top good guys going until he got to Toronto, where he was booed like it was 1999 all over again. Kudos must go to both men for recognizing where the crowd was going and essentially switching roles on the fly. That’s what wrestling is about. It’s not always about fancy holds or 100 near falls. It’s about telling a story in the ring that will captivate the viewing audience. There is not an exact science on how that is accomplished. It just takes creativity and a good ear to get it done. The rest is up to the performers in the ring. The Rock and Hogan took the fans on a roller coaster ride that left them physically and emotionally spent when it was all said and done. I still feel that way watching the match 14 years later. For that reason alone, this should have been the last match on the show, but it wasn’t. That meant whatever match had to follow it would the have a very, very tall task of re-energizing the crowd.

- The match that did close the show was the first Undisputed Championship match ever at WrestleMania between the champion Chris Jericho and the challenger Triple H. The big story surrounding this match was that this was the culmination of Triple H’s comeback from quadriceps surgery. The match itself was very good, but unfortunately, the fans were spent after The Rock-Hogan match and never got into it. Those two matches were a prime example of how a hot crowd could make the difference between a great match and a simply ordinary one. You could argue that the in-ring action between Jericho and Triple H was better than the action between The Rock and Hogan, but a dead crowd makes the match largely forgotten. On the flip side, The Rock and Hogan had a really hot crowd without as much action and the match will be remembered for generations. Another thing that didn’t necessarily help the match was the build. Jericho, who was the first Undisputed Champion, wasn’t made to look very credible in the weeks leading up to this match. The addition of Stephanie McMahon to the story didn’t do it any favors either. Even though Triple H was given his big moment at WrestleMania, he lost the title a month later to Hogan at Backlash.

- Although those were the two top matches on the card, there was another match that when you look at the two names your eyes will get wider. The Undertaker went one-on-one with Ric Flair. I repeat. The Undertaker went one-on-one with Ric Flair. If that happened today or even five years ago it would have been in the main event of any pay-per-view. But back then it was in the middle of the card. This is just goes to show that WWE was suffering from an embarrassment of riches at this point. With World Championship Wrestling dead and buried, WWE brought in some of its biggest names, including the New World Order. Yeah, this show had the nWo as well. The top four matches on the show were The Rock versus Hogan, Jericho versus Triple H, The Undertaker versus Flair and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin versus Scott Hall. Between those four matches are four current Hall of Famers (Flair, Austin, Hall and Hogan) and four other men who are all but assured to join them in the Hall one day.

- Although the top of the card was filled with stars, the reason this show isn’t on the same level as WrestleMania X-Seven is because there were a number of matches that simply didn’t feel WrestleMania worthy. Examples were the Hardcore Championship match, the World Tag Team Championship match, the European Championship match, the Edge-Booker T match and even the Kane-Kurt Angle match. At least the latter had a solid angle (no pun intended) heading into it. However, he Edge-Booker T match was over a Japanese shampoo endorsement deal for goodness sakes.

- Some of you may have noticed that I left off the Intercontinental and Women’s title matches off that list. That’s because both of those matches were pretty good, especially the Women’s title match. Maybe it’s because I yearn for the days of good women’s wrestling in WWE, but I really enjoyed that match. An interesting thing about the Intercontinental title match was that Regal lost in the opening match of WrestleMania for the same title two years in a row.

- This was the last WrestleMania WWE produced as the World Wrestling Federation. WWE was forced to change to its current name in May of 2002 after losing a name dispute to the World Wildlife Fund over the initials WWF.

- This was the second and final time to date that WrestleMania has taken place outside of the continental United States. Both times the show took place in Toronto, Canada. The attendance for the show was a SkyDome record and was the second- highest in WrestleMania history, topping WrestleMania X-Seven the year before.

- Three notable superstars got perform at WrestleMania in front of their hometown in Toronto. Edge, Christian and Trish Stratus all grew up in the Toronto area. Edge actually attended the previous WrestleMania to take place in Toronto, WrestleMania VI.

- Diamond Dallas Page has only made two WrestleMania appearances during his illustrious career and the both took place Toronto. The first came at WrestleMania VI when he was the chauffer for Honky Tonk Man and Greg “The Hammer” Valentine. The second was in 2002 when he successfully defended the European Championship.

- The Hardcore Championship match wasn’t much, but there was some notable stuff that caught my eye. For one, Tough Enough winner Maven got a spot on the card. Not long prior, he was a no-name teacher in Oregon. All of a sudden he’s walking down the aisle at WrestleMania. Despite the great story, Goldust’s gold weapons were probably more over than he was. The Hardcore title changed hands five times throughout the night due to the 24/7 rules of the title. I miss those rules.

- There were a lot of musical acts during WrestleMania X-8, including Saliva opening the show with a song. Drowning Pool had a performance during the middle of the show and each band played a superstar down to the ring. Saliva played the Dudleys down while Drowning Pool played for Triple H.

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The Squared Circle is a one-stop shop of pro wrestling news, recaps and observations. You can also enjoy interviews with some of your favorite stars from the world of professional wrestling both nationally and locally. Reach Vaughn at vjohnson@philly.com.

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