Without a doubt, my favourite Wrestlemania match, and one of my favourite matches of all time, took place at Wrestlemania VIII when Ric Flair took on “Macho Man” Randy Savage for the WWE Championship.
The story going into this match stemmed from just 7 words said by Flair: “Elizabeth was mine before she was yours!” It is something that everyone can relate to and it makes you support Savage more. Flair, at this time, had won the WWF Championship after the 1992 Royal Rumble match. With his “Executive Consultant” Mr Perfect and the support of Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, Flair was borderline unstoppable and was getting into Savage’s head with those words and threatening to reveal (doctored) photos of Elizabeth.
I don’t normally do this but I want to write about the interviews that took place before and after the match. Before the match, Mooney interviews Flair and Perfect and they go on about the picture of Elizabeth that they are going to put up on the big screen. Then we go to Mean Gene Okerlund interviewing Savage. At least we would have if Savage was granting interviews. Okerlund instead talks about Savage’s mind going into the match.
We start with Flair coming down the aisle and I got slightly pissed off with WWE’s revisionist history. I had the original VHS tape of this until recently and Flair’s theme music was majestic yet not the one he is famous for which is from 2001: A Space Odyssey. When I saw this match again on YouTube, it was the 2001 film music, which I found annoying. Anyway, bitch over. During Flair’s entrance, we cut to Lord Alfred Hayes who had managed to grab a hold of Savage (this was only seen on the original VHS version), in which Savage was up for the match. Savage then makes his entrance, in which he runs into the ring. Flair and Perfect go out of the ring and Savage takes off his jacket and hat and goes after Flair. Flair throws the title belt into the ring and starts to go up the aisle. Savage attacks him from behind and is pulled off by Perfect. Savage and Flair get into the ring to officially start the match and it starts with Savage being all over Flair before Flair sends Savage over the top rope to the floor outside.
Flair starts to take advantage of the match then Savage once again gets the momentum resulting in hitting Flair against the barricade, busting him open. Savage completely dominates hitting a double axehandle followed by the patented elbowdrop. Savage covers Flair but is pulled off by Mr Perfect. If you look at it very carefully, you see Savage move his leg so that Perfect is able to grab it and pull Savage off Flair. I also like the way that Heenan ignores what had happened by saying that it was a 2 count. Savage goes after Perfect and Perfect manages to sneak some brass knuckles to Flair. Flair uses them and starts to be dominant in the match with a lot of help from Perfect. Perfect uses a steel chair to attack Savage with a hit to the knee, severely injuring him. This prompts Elizabeth to come down the aisle, followed by WWF officials (including Dave Hebner and Shane McMahon). Flair slaps on the Figure Four Leg Lock and gets occasional help from Perfect by getting leverage, all the while the WWF officials are trying to convince Elizabeth to go back to no avail. Eventually, Savage manages to reverse the pressure and, despite some help from Perfect which the referee stops, Flair is forced to break the hold. Flair continues to attack Savage’s knee while boasting to Elizabeth. However, it all comes back to haunt Flair as, while he is boasting, he gets hit by Savage and gets rolled up for the 3, even though Savage had the tights. Heenan goes ballistic on commentary and goes to leave the booth to get to Flair. Meanwhile, Flair grabs Elizabeth and goes mental on her before kissing her. Understandably, Elizabeth doesn’t take that too well and starts hitting Flair before Savage joins in, resulting in chaos for a few minutes. Eventually, Flair and Perfect leave the ring and Savage and Elizabeth celebrate the victory.
Now we get to the post match interviews and it’s the complete opposite to what had happened before the match. Sean Mooney tries to interview Flair and Perfect and is told to shut up. Perfect is not happy about the fact that Savage cheated to get the victory, obviously ignoring the blantant cheating that Perfect himself did. Heenan arrives and is hysterical about the whole situation and then we get to Flair. I think this moment is brilliant as Flair, who lost the most, is the most calm in this scenario. Flair, whilst angry, is saying that the team will take stock of what happened and regroup and Flair says: “You did it once, now let’s see you do it again!” On the other side of the coin, Mean Gene interviews Savage with Savage saying the WWF Championship is only a bit of what he wanted from Flair.
There are so many reasons why I enjoy this match. I especially loved Heenan’s commentary on this. If you want to see a PhD level class on biased wrestling commentary, you have to watch the match as Heenan is completely biased in this match. I loved the story of this match. I think that Savage’s role in this is that he wanted to beat Flair, regardless of whether it was for the WWF Championship or not. Flair and Perfect were absolutely brilliant in this role as well; and Elizabeth coming down to support Savage really added to the tension of the match. I also thought the interviews before and after the match were great as well.
This is one of those rare matches where every aspect was played to perfection. It’s unfortunate that it is a massively underrated match; but if there was a university course on professional wrestling, this match has to be required reading.