SLAM! Sports SLAM! Wrestlemania 29
   July 26, 2014



News & Rumours
Bios
Obits
Canadian Hall of Fame
WrestleMania 30
WrestleMania 30 photos
Video
Movie Database
Minority Mat Report
Columnists
Features
Results Archive
PPV Reviews
SLAM! Wrestling store
On Facebook
On Twitter
Send Feedback




Photo Galleries

Raw in Miami


Tragos/Thesz Hall of Fame inductions


WWE Battleground


ROH in Detroit


Smackdown & Main Event in Ottawa


Raw in Montreal


WWE in Kingston







SCOREBOARD
PHOTO GALLERY
VIDEO GALLERY
COMMENT





Whatever happened to the stars of WrestleMania IX and XIX?
By JON WALDMAN -- SLAM! Wrestling


Anyone still have a VHS copy of WrestleMania IX?

My favourite issue of The Hockey News, year-in and year-out, is the Future Watch issue.

Not because I'm a prospect scout mind you, but because each year they look back at their five- and 10-year lists to see how they panned out (or didn't).

Don't get my wrong. THN is my hockey bible for a number of reasons; but I find it so interesting that a publication is so willing to look back on its past and track its history.

As wrestling fans, we're prone to do the same, and to their credit, WWE has done a remarkable job in recent months of looking back at its history on their website.

But WrestleMania is without a doubt the Future Watch of WWE -- that signature piece that draws fans; and while WWE has not taken a full look back at who was on the card however-many-years-back, it gives me the opportunity to do so.


So today, I give you the two lists, counting backward to WrestleMania IX and WrestleMania XIX to see how those rosters look today. Yes, there will be some sadness as we look at who is still around, who has retired and who has passed away, but it's an interesting way to compare the 1990s, 2000s and today's roster.

We'll start off the list with the event that features a final match that is widely panned as one of the worst in 'Mania's history - WrestleMania IX.


WRESTLEMANIA IX

WrestleMania IX was held at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas and was the first 'Mania to be held outdoors. The theme of the hotel was carried throughout the show, including having a debuting legend appear in a toga.

But enough pre-amble. Let's get to the action:

Match 1 - Shawn Michaels (w/Luna Vachon) vs. Tatanka (w/Sensational Sherri)

The good news - two of the individuals here, Michaels and Sherri, are WWE Hall of Famers. The bad news? Both Sherri and Vachon have passed away. Tatanka, meanwhile, still occasionally wrestles on the indies and even recently appeared on one of Raw's recent retro nights.

Match 2 - Rick and Scott Steiner vs. Samu and Fatu (w/Afa)

Here's an interesting case. Whereas above we pretty much knew Michaels was headed for greatness, no one would've expected Scott Steiner to be able to breakout on his own, nor would anyone have guessed how much success Fatu would've had in singles competition as Rikishi. In Scott's case, he would become a WCW Heavyweight champ and one of the few bright spots during the company's waning days before having runs in WWE and TNA. Rikishi would be one of the highlight babyfaces in the aftermath of the Attitude Era, partly for his propensity for grinding his (as Gorilla Monsoon would say) ample posterior in the faces of just about everyone in WWE. Rick, meanwhile, has moved on to a career in politics. In all likelihood, WWE will induct the Steiners at some point as a tag team. Afa, of course, is part of an HOF team as the Wild Samoans, and Samu, after having to leave the team (and being replaced by The Barbarian), would eventually return to WWE as one of the mysterious Samoans who were watching Fatu's matches in an angle that never went anywhere.

Match 3 - Doink vs. Crush

Doink at this point was still Matt Borne, who after leaving WWE would have a semi-successful run in ECW and still uses the character on the indies and at appearances. Crush, a.k.a. Brian Adams, would go through a few iterations (after previously being a Demolition member) before heading to WCW and then returning to WWE as part of the InVasion. He died in 2007.

Match 4 - Razor Ramon vs. Bob Backlund

This, believe it or not, was Backlund's first appearance at WrestleMania and was well before his heel turn, during which time he'd win the WWF Championship once again. Ramon, of course, would go on to become one of the most successful Intercontinental champs in WWE history, would form the nWo with Kevin Nash, gain a variety of titles in WCW and later move on to ECW and TNA for short stints, along with a brief return to WWE circa WrestleMania XVIII. WWE finally gives Backlund his due with a HOF induction at Madison Square Garden on Saturday.

Match 5 - Ted "The Million Dollar Man" DiBiase / IRS vs. Hulk Hogan / Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake (w/Jimmy Hart)

Tally three more Hall of Famers on the board (DiBiase, Hogan and Hart); but the more interesting facet of these performers is that all would end up in WCW following this match, and all except Beefcake would return to WWE following in one capacity or another. Of the five, Hogan is the only one still actively on wrestling TV - with TNA/Impact. DiBiase and IRS (Mike Rotunda) regularly make appearances on WWE TV's retro shows, and both have kids working in WWE. Hart has jumped around a bit (including a stint with Wrestlicious) while Beefcake has been seen around the legends tours.

Match 6 - Lex Luger vs. Mr. Perfect


Perfect (Curt Hennig) would go on to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame that, post 'Mania, included a run in WCW that included the US Title and being the lead of the West Texas Rednecks. He would also return to WWE for a short stint and also have a very brief run in TNA. Hard to believe, but he's been dead for a decade now. Luger, perhaps surprisingly, has not (yet) been inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame but did gain several titles while in his later run in WCW, including the Heavyweight Championship. He was also a big part of the nWo angle and later appeared in TNA.

Match 7 - The Undertaker (w/Paul Bearer) vs. Giant Gonzalez (w/Harvey Whippleman)

If there is any blemish on 'Taker's WM record it's this DQ win. Why WWE needed to protect Gonzalez, I have no clue. As part-time as he is, Undertaker remains the only active wrestler on WWE's roster from WM IX, while Gonzalez left North American wrestling soon after this bout. He and Bearer both passed recently, unfortunately. Whippleman (Bruno Lauer hasn't been seen much in wrestling circles as of late, but after this match remained in WWE for a good amount of time.

Match 8 - Yokozuna (w/Mr. Fuji) vs. Bret Hart

All three men are now in the WWE Hall of Fame and deservedly so. Yoko's WWE career was highlighted by his championship run which should have started fully on this night, rather than being stalled as you'll see in a moment. Hart's story, meanwhile, is probably the most well known in wrestling history.

Match 9 - Hulk Hogan vs. Yokozuna

Funny story -- unless you watch a tape of the original airing of WrestleMania IX, you wouldn't know that Hogan was actually booed out of the building on this night. Many were more than sick of Hogan's schtick that faithful night back in 1993, but it would take three years before he would realize he could draw as a heel and form the nWo. (John Cena, you might want to rewatch this event. Just saying.)

Ultimately, Hogan's final WWE Championship run (until the early 2000s) was marred and has been labelled one of the worst in the history of the company. Had this match happened in Philadelphia, say, you can only imagine the heat against Hulk. Yokozuna, of course, would regain the belt at King of the Ring and go on to have an lengthy reign. Following that run with the belt, though, Yoko would face challenges due to his increasing size; and while he did have a strong run with Owen Hart as a Jim Cornette-managed tag team, ultimately his size would be his demise.


WRESTLEMANIA XIX


Taking place at Safeco Field in Seattle, 'Mania 19 was one of the first in more modern years to be staged in a mega stadium. The gamble paid off as the building was absolutely electric amidst a year of transition. This would be the final active 'Mania for "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, and others from his generation were dwindling in their 'Mania appearances. Let's get to the action.

Match 1 - Matt Hardy (w/Shannon Moore) vs. Rey Mysterio

What can I say about Matt Hardy that hasn't been said time and time again? It's not that his WWE career was a disappointment; heck he probably exceeded expectations. It was moreso that the way he burned out, publicly on YouTube and Twitter, was sorrowful. Thankfully he's got his life back in order. Moore, meanwhile, would morph into a full-out punk character and, after leaving WWE, have a decent run in TNA. Mysterio, meanwhile, continues to compete for WWE (when not injured) and has held virtually every title in the company. Of the three, Rey Rey is the most likely to go into WWE's Hall.

Undertaker vs. The Big Show and A-Train

Originally, Nathan Jones was to tag with Undertaker but that plan went out the window. Surprisingly, all three competitors are still in WWE and on this year's 'Mania card. Taker and Show would go on to hold multiple championships in WWE (adding to their already impressive collections of gold), while Train would go on to have a successful career in Japan before coming back to WWE first as Tensai and later as "Sweet T" in a tag team with Brodus Clay. 'Taker and Show have had HOF-worthy careers, while A-Train, not destined for WWE glory, could get some interesting looks from Japanese pundits for pro wrestling halls of fame later on.

Match 3 - Trish Stratus vs. Victoria (w/Stevie Richards) vs. Jazz

One of the golden era matches of the Women's Division, all three women were Women's champions in WWE while Victoria would go on to also capture TNA/Impact gold. Stratus, of course, is going in the Hall of Fame this year after seven Women's Championship reigns. Victoria, who was finishing up her rookie campaign at this point in WWE, would go on to be considered one of the best women in the ring and most unique in character. Jazz, meanwhile, was already an ECW veteran at this time and elevated her game in WWE, but hasn't been heard from much since. As for Stevie Richards, he would go through a couple other iterations in WWE and later in TNA. Many consider him to be one of the most underrated competitors of his time.

Match 4 - Shelton Benjamin/Charlie Haas vs. Chris Benoit/Rhyno vs. Eddie Guerrero/Chavo Guerrero

In the wake of the "Smackdown Six" came this bout, featuring three of the performers (Benoit and Los Guerreros). Quick hits on each:

  • Shelton Benjamin would break out well from his team and have a successful run in WWE as a multi-time second-tier champ and a regular on highlight reels.
  • Charlie Haas would unfortunately be saddled in a bad combo shortly after the breakup of "Team Angle" by being paired with Rico. He would, however, marry their manager, Jackie Gayda and the two have stayed married. Haas recently announced his retirement.
  • Benoit would go on to win the World Heavyweight Championship one year later. His murder-suicide of June 2007 is well-documented, making him perhaps the most infamous wrestler ever.
  • Rhyno would continue on in WWE for a short time after before moving to TNA where he became one of a select few competitors to hold both the ECW and NWA Heavyweight Championships. He's still roaming rings today for Ring of Honor, among others.
  • Like Benoit, Eddie Guerrero would go on to hold Heavyweight gold in WWE before passing away in the midst of arguably the best work of his career.
  • Chavo Guerrero would go on to not only have a solid heel run against Rey Mysterio, but also capture the ECW Heavyweight Championship. He now plies his trade in TNA alongside Shawn Hernandez.

Match 5 - Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho


Jericho puts some pain on HBK.
In a career that included 'Mania bouts against Undertaker, Bret Hart and Kurt Angle, it can be argued that this was HBK at his best. The natural feud between the similar competitors was stellar to say the least; so much so that their second run with World Championship gold involved was one of the best feuds of its time. Of course, both men were highly decorated going in and both men fully solidified their legendry coming out. Michaels is in the WWE Hall of Fame and Jericho, if and when he ever hangs the boots up, is unquestionably Hall of Fame bound.

Match 6 - Triple H vs. Booker T

Many fans look back at this match as being the one that Booker should have won. The disappointment of the booking aside, Booker would go on to continue a legacy established in WCW, winning almost every WWE championship available to him. His career would later be seconded by his real-life wife Sharmell (a former WCW competitor in her own right) and the two would also spend time in TNA. Eventually, Booker returned to WWE first as a commentator and currently as the Smackdown GM. He's also headed to the WWE Hall of Fame this year. Triple H meanwhile put together a Hall of Fame-worthy career and has done the impossible - become applauded by the Internet's most hardened fanatics for his progressive direction with the company, a 180 from this era where many felt he held too much backstage influence.

Match 7 - Hulk Hogan vs. Vince McMahon

On the same show that Austin had his last 'Mania match, Hogan was relegated to his last WM in-ring appearance coming up behind that match. Yes, the bout with Vince was a dream "encounter" but Rock vs. Austin was the better match, hands down. Imagine if it was Hogan vs. Austin, with both men retiring after this match. Sadly, Hogan didn't retire and would go on to have the "Mr. America" gimmick in an ultra-cartoony spot in WWE before leaving the Fed for TNA where he has competed, but more often is the company's on-screen GM. Vince is only now starting to pass the torch onto Triple H and Stephanie McMahon, but lord knows he'll continue to pop up on WWE TV at his whim.

Match 8 - The Rock vs. Steve Austin

Here's an interesting case. This was the third and final 'Mania bout between the two. Austin would put over Rock in the match, and one month later Rock faced Goldberg at Backlash. Poetically, Austin would, one year later, ref Goldberg's last WWE match on the same card that Rock had his final match before the big return at 'Mania two years ago. Of course, Austin is already in the WWE Hall of Fame, Rock's on his way there, and both men are regarded as the leaders of the Attitude Era.

Match 9 - Brock Lesnar vs. Kurt Angle

Had it not been for the scary-as-all-heck Shooting Star Press, this may have gone down as the best pure wrestling match in 'Mania history. Unfortunately, we'll never know what was really supposed to be the ending of the bout. Lesnar would hang around WWE one more year and have several more bouts with Angle along the way, before leaving following WrestleMania XX to pursue the NFL. Later, he would wrestle in Japan against the likes of Akebono (another 'Mania alumnus) before shuttling over to UFC and become its Heavyweight champ. He's now back in WWE and is reportedly here for two more years. Angle, meanwhile, continues to define all logic. He not only would continue to be WWE's best in-ring performer and a master on the mic for several more years in WWE, but has arguably been TNA's best wrestler over the last number of years, having highlight bouts with the likes of Samoa Joe and A.J. Styles, while also winning multiple NWA and TNA Heavyweight championships. Both men deserve all recognition they are given.

Oh, and one more note. There was a wrestler who didn't compete at WM XIX but did leave his mark in one of the best interviews ever given on the biggest stage of them all. That man was a white hip-hopper who many didn't think would succeed past the pops for his crude lyrics. But sure enough, 10 years later, John Cena is main eventing yet another WrestleMania.

So there you go folks. The HOF count on WrestleMania IX is incredibly high, while XIX is loaded with future WWE HOF'ers. There's more championship gold in the XIX class, but that's also the nature of the beast - titles changed hands more regularly in the 2000s than they did in the 1990s.

Thanks for reading everyone. We'll see you again in 10 years when we look back at WrestleMania XXIX.

RELATED LINKS

Jon Waldman, a SLAM! Wrestling veteran since 2000, has never seen a WrestleMania live and in person. He's hoping that the new IG Field in Winnipeg will be a draw for WWE. Follow Jon on Twitter @jonwaldman.