April 4, 1993
Yokozuna was the champion. And he had been the champion for all of about 30 seconds. Hulk Hogan had rushed the ring after Yokozuna defeated Bret Hart moments earlier to become the first ever heel to win the World Title or the main event at WrestleMania. But Hogan couldn’t have that.
All eight prior WrestleManias, even when Savage had won the belt at WrestleMania IV, even when Warrior had defeated him at WrestleMania VI, even when Savage vs. Flair was the clear deserving match for the main event at WrestleMania VIII one year earlier and Hogan had gotten in to the spot because it was his “last match”, Hulk Hogan had figured out a way to end the show of shows as the focal point. This time it was more forced than ever.
After attempting to explain to the ref that Bret Hart had had salt thrown in his eyes leading to the pinfall and title change, Mr. Fuji ends up with a microphone and goads Hogan in to challenging for the belt right then and there. Bret gives his blessing and it is on.
Yokozuna grabs Hogan, and Fuji goes for more salt straight away. For some reason, again, Hebner sees no reason to throw this out. Of course Hogan ducks, the salt flies in to the new champ’s eyes, Hogan proceeds to clothesline Yokozuna off his feet and then hit his leg drop. One, two, three, new champion. In just 22 seconds, Hulk Hogan had ended Yokozuna’s first title reign.
Even at nine years old, I knew this was bullshit. The show had its share of decent action accompanied by garbage finishes, but this really takes the take. The story is that Hogan was not willing to lose the belt to Hart later on as had been promised, which is why we would see Yokozuna win his belt back at King of the Ring, and why we would see Yokozuna and Bret Hart headline the following year’s Mania as well. Hogan at his Hogan-iest. By far the worst World Title match in Mania’s history, and if you can call it the main event, it takes that (dis)honor as well.