The Best and Worst Moment of WrestleMania 8
More to the point, this was the ‘Mania that ended with Hulk Hogan’s purported retirement match opposite Sid Justice; a match that made sense enough on paper for the kinds of matches Hogan was most famous for, opposite a monster heel, but that nonetheless left hardcore fans cold because they had been expecting Hogan vs. Ric Flair.
To be fair, fans probably got the better outcome of relegating Hogan and Justice, for all of their limitations, to one match, while Flair worked a far better match with Randy Savage in the middle of the show.
The latter confrontation was heated because the men were not only competing for the WWE Championship, but also a sub-angle of The Nature Boy insinuating he’d slept with Miss Elizabeth before she got together with The Macho Man.
It’s telling that all four participants in the so-called double main event would be out of WWE action a half year later. Not only had Hogan walked away, but Flair and Justice had defected to WCW, while Savage was relegated to mostly a commentary role. Ironically, at WrestleMania 9, Hogan would be the only one out of the four to wrestle.
This article takes a look back at this watershed show, and its best and worst moments.
Best Moment: Bret Hart pins Roddy Piper
The idea of Bret Hart wrestling Roddy Piper may not seem so odd from historical hindsight, but in 1992, this was a huge step up for The Hitman to get a featured singles match against an original WrestleMania main eventer and overall much more established star. The bout was an instant classic—arguably Piper’s last truly great match, and a key bout in proving that Hart was deserving of a main event push.
In the end, Hart won via a sleeper hold reversal into a pinning predicament that has often been imitated since, but scarcely executed as cleanly as we saw it here. That pin further cemented Hart as the top technician of his day, and popped the crowd as The Hitman readied himself to reach even higher heights by year’s end.
Worst Moment: Papa Shango misses his cue
The main event match between Hulk Hogan and Sid Justice in many ways underscored what was wrong with WWE in 1992 and why we’d need to see a paradigm shift, even if Hogan wasn't on his way out the door.
Neither of these men were equipped to deliver a particularly good match with the other. Things were made worse by the awkward proposition of wanting to make Hogan look good and send the fans home happy, while simultaneously needing to protect Justice as a presumptive main event heel moving forward after Hogan left the company.
The lukewarm schmoz WWE had planned probably wouldn’t have become the stuff of WrestleMania legend. However, the finish of Papa Shango running in for the disqualification, and then The Ultimate Warrior making the save came off as all the more incoherent and poorly executed for Shango coming out late.
While he was supposed to stop Hogan from pinning Justice off a leg drop, Justice instead kicked out of Hogan’s signature move, and Shango’s choice to get involved felt like a non-sequitur as a result. It was a clumsy end to an era that was quickly outdating itself.