wrestling / Video Reviews

Kevin’s RetrospectiveMania Series: WrestleMania X8

October 9, 2019 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
Hulk Hogan Rock WrestleMania 18 Matches
WWF WrestleMania X8
March 17th, 2002 | Skydome in Toronto, Ontario | Attendance: 68,237

Once again, the landscape of wrestling has completely changed between WrestleManias. With WCW and ECW closed and the Invasion angle wrapped up, the company had their most talented roster to date. It loaded with quality wrestlers from top to bottom. Triple H was back from injury. The nWo had arrived. Steve Austin was nearing the end of his run. Chris Jericho was at the top and so much more. Of note, this is the last WrestleMania under the WWF name before changing to WWE in May.

• Match quality – Self-explanatory. Will always be the longest section.
• Memorability – How memorable is the show?
• Historical significance – The impact the show had on wrestling
• Booking decisions – Did the event have logical booking decisions for the stories they told
• Presentation – Things like stage setup, video packages, commentary, etc.
• Pacing/Flow – How well is the show laid out? Does it drag or move along smoothly?
• Entertainment – The non-wrestling elements like promos, celebrity interaction, concerts, etc.



Match Quality


WWF Intercontinental Championship: William Regal [c] vs. Rob Van Dam ~ Back to back years opening the show in an Intercontinental Title match for William Regal. This got off to an awkward start as it looked like RVD would dive outside but Regal slid in and they didn’t seem to be on the same page. Regal came in with a storyline where he used brass knuckles to remain champion. He went after them in the opening minute or so and RVD kicked them away. This ultimately felt like two guys with different styles who made it work despite not getting a lot of time. They packed a fair amount of back and forth action into this. RVD took a sick bump on a half nelson suplex. He was always one of the wildest bumpers ever. RVD avoided another brass knuckles attempt and hit the Five Star Frog Splash to win the title in 6:21. Short and sweet. [***]

WWF European Championship: Diamond Dallas Page [c] vs. Christian ~ How did Christian always manage to have dope theme music? For a great bit of heat, Christian was introduced from Tampa and not Toronto. Two straight matches that got started with an attack. This was pretty much the definition of acceptable wrestling. There was back and forth action and you could sense Christian’s desperation to prove himself as a winner. Both guys countered each other’s finishers and DDP busted out a sweet top rope powerslam of sorts. He also showed off a nice running powerbomb for a near fall before retaining with the Diamond Cutter in 6:08. Again, this was pretty standard. Some of the late moves were nice enough to bump up the score. [**¼]

WWF Hardcore Championship: Maven [c] vs. Goldust ~ What a seemingly random WrestleMania match. Third straight match where someone is jumped at the bell. There wasn’t much that happened in this one. The highlight was a Maven dropkick (go figure) into a gold tinted trash can. Goldust has several weapons painted gold. Both men got knocked out and Spike Dudley ran in with a his own referee to win the title via 24/7 rule in 3:15. Not a good match. Also not an offensive one. [½*]

Kane vs. Kurt Angle ~ I’ll never understand why Angle was a Mania afterthought in 01 and 02. His Benoit match didn’t’ get set up until a week before the show and here, after being a red hot babyface in the summer of 01, he turned heel, lost all momentum, and was in this throwaway match. Four for four as Angle hit Kane with the ring bell before this officially started. This match was ultimately fine but it felt so hollow. In 2002, these are two guys who are way over and yet it felt like the crowd didn’t care about this. Maybe it’s because there wasn’t much of a story coming in. That made this feel more like an exhibition than something to get invested in. Angle was in control, then Kane made a comeback. Typical stuff. I did like Angle surviving the Chokeslam by grabbing the ropes on a pin. It was unexpected. Kane kicked out of the Angle Slam and used the ropes to escape the Ankle Lock before hitting a damn ENZIGURI! Their final exchange saw Angle use the ropes for leverage on a pin to steal this in 10:51. Another match that was acceptable but felt hollow. [**½]

Street Fight: Ric Flair vs. The Undertaker ~ Guess how this match started? Ric Flair charged the ring and jumped Undertaker. Five for five though at least it made sense in a bitter feud like this. Flair’s hot start subdued and Undertaker turned the tables. That meant rights and lefts as he pounded on Flair and busted him open. He bled a lot. It’s pretty standard Ric Flair stuff though. After a surprising superplex, Undertaker started toying with Flair and picking him up when he had him beat. This was a very old school brawl that moved at a slow pace as they built to Flair’s possible comeback. That rally saw Flair use a lead pipe and apply the Figure Four to a huge pop. The best moment came when Arn Anderson showed up from out of nowhere to hit Undertaker with a spinebuster. You can’t not get hype when you see that. Undertaker took out Arn and survived some chair shots. He won with the Tombstone in 18:57 after Flair fought off the Last Ride. A good old school type match. They had a slow build and the crowd was way into it. [***¼]

Booker T vs. Edge ~ It’s the battle over a shampoo commercial. This is a strange WrestleMania. Finally a match without a pre-match attack. Thankfully, even with the stupid storyline, these are two professionals. Booker T and Edge are two guys who were pretty consistent and often gave a strong effort. They honestly did their best with what they were given. Edge was bumping all over the place and Booker was still busting out missile dropkicks. Just some strong back and forth throughout this. The crowd didn’t really get into it, even when Booker cleanly jumped over the Spear. Brock Lesnar did it in much more impressive fashion about fifteen years later. Edge survived the Scissors Kick, mocked the Spinaroonie, and won with the Edgecution in 6:32. Edge and Booker tried but this felt like something made for an episode of Raw or something. Solid enough. [**¾]

Scott Hall vs. Steve Austin ~ This feels like Steve Austin fell far from his huge main event last year. The nWo wasn’t at all interesting by this point so this really felt like a waste of Austin. Kevin Nash was out with Scott Hall. Austin jumped Hall during his entrance so that trend was back on. That set the tone for a match that was pretty overbooked. Nash continually got involved and this felt more like a handicap match than anything else. His interference allowed Hall to take control. That meant we had a lifeless heat segment. Austin cut off his momentum with a Stunner but Nash attacked the referee to save his buddy. The same thing happened to the next referee to come out. Nash got ejected before Austin survived Hall’s version of a Stunner. He then hit back to back Stunners to win in 9:51. A nothing match that did nothing for Austin. He didn’t put in his best effort and Hall was far from giving a good performance at this stage. [**]

WWF Tag Team Championship: Billy and Chuck [c] vs. The APA vs. The Dudley Boyz vs. The Hardy Boyz ~ Stacy Keibler danced to Saliva’s performance of the Dudley Boyz theme and that was a tough act for everyone to follow. This is much less interesting than the Tag Title matches the past two years. It was also hurt by being a total slog. With four teams, there should’ve been moving parts that kept things fresh. Instead, this dragged its way to the finish. The elimination rules did it no favors. The APA dominated but got eliminated first via 3D. The Dudleys were next out with their only real highlight being Stacy Keibler flashing her ass. The segment with the Hardys against Billy and Chuck in the end also went too long. The champions eventually retained after Chuck used one of the titles as a weapon at the 13:50 mark. Way too long, outdrawn, and flat out boring. [*¼]

Hulk Hogan vs. The Rock ~ Icon vs. Icon. The reason most people were excited to watch this show. Hogan and Rock milk every ounce of crowd reaction in the opening moments. When Hogan shoved Rock and overpowered him, the fans erupted. They were way behind the Hulkster. This is something of a masterclass in how to work a crowd. Hogan and Rock didn’t do anything flashy or fancy. They just hit their spots and found wise ways to get the crowd to react perfectly to everything they did. When you have the fans the way they did, you don’t need to destroy your body and do wild things. Hogan looked rough in this one, with cheap offense and bad bumps. But it honestly didn’t matter all that much. A ref bump, some underhanded tactics, and other smoke and mirrors were used. The fans came unglued when we got the Hulk Up spot. Rock kicked out of the Leg Drop to their disappointment. That marked the end because Rock hit some Rock Bottoms and the People’s Elbow to win in 16:32. If you watch this on mute, it’s probably trash. The crowd adds a ton. It was technically only okay but an epic in terms of character work and such. I’ll give it a good score but don’t consider it an all-time great. [***½]

WWF Women’s Championship: Jazz [c] vs. Lita vs. Trish Stratus ~ I reviewed this for the Trish and Lita WWE Network Collection. Watching it again, my feelings haven’t changed. They had some fine ideas in this one. Jazz played the powerhouse who threw everyone around. Lita brought the energy and high flying stuff. Trish was the hometown favorite with the maple leaf on her butt. Trish and Lita renewed their legendary rivalry and had some cool moments. After Trish took a nasty spill to the outside where her leg got caught in the ropes, Jazz beat Lita with an avalanche Fisherman Buster in 6:16. I wanted to like this more but I found it to be pretty good. [**¾]

WWF Undisputed Championship: Chris Jericho [c] vs. Triple H ~ The match that had no business going on last. I know a lot of people shit on this match because it is an underwhelming main event and I understand that. However, I do think it isn’t a bad match. Had this been on in the middle of the card, it would’ve been received better. Still, other than their matches in 2000, this is a combination I never loved. They told the story here of Triple H having to fight from behind against a cunning champion and his ex-wife. It made sense as the way to book the match. The problem was that Triple H wasn’t a compelling babyface at this point. Triple H took out Stephanie McMahon with a Pedigree before hitting Chris Jericho with one to win the title in 18:41. A good match but a lackluster one in terms of a main event. [***]

I remember thinking highly of this WrestleMania but it is pretty underwhelming. One of the biggest issues was how nothing felt special outside of Rock/Hogan. The main event was lackluster and nobody seemed to care by the time it aired. Matches like RVD/Regal, Booker/Edge, and Kane/Angle felt like they belonged on Raw and not the biggest show of the year. Only the Hardcore and Tag Title matches feel like they were bad, but nothing really stood out as being great. That calls for something of a middle of the pack score.

SCORE: 5.5





Let’s be completely honest. The only truly memorable thing about this show was Hogan vs. Rock. It’s an iconic match that has withstood the test of time and just the sight of Rock facing of with Hogan remains a staple of WrestleMania video packages. Other than that, the only thing I can think of that is notable was Arn Anderson delivering a spinebuster to the Undertaker. That is just flat out cool and something I think is still remembered by most longtime fans to this day. Even if not much else delivers, Rock/Hogan is enough to give it a passable score.

SCORE: 6.0



Historical Significance


We didn’t know it at the time, but this would go down as the final WrestleMania under the WWF banner. The company switched to WWE a few months later and they’ve been under that name ever since. That’s pretty historic. While Triple H vs. Chris Jericho underwhelmed, it did make history. The result put Triple H in exclusive company alongside Hulk Hogan and Steve Austin as the only men to win multiple Mania main events. This show was also the Mania debuts for names like Rob Van Dam, Booker T, DDP, Stacy Keibler, and Jazz, while also featuring the first matches for Trish Stratus and Lita. Better than expected in this category.

SCORE: 6.5



Booking Decisions


In terms of results, this show got things right. Rock going over Hogan, Triple H winning the title, Austin beating Scott Hall, Rob Van Dam winning the Intercontinental Title, etc. They made the proper choices. Some of the other bits of booking were problematic though. For example, putting HHH/Jericho on last was a bad move. I understand the title is important but there are exceptions. Rock/Cena in 2012 and Undertaker/Michaels in 2010 are examples of this. Here, Rock/Hogan needed to close things out. Another issue was that most of the matches didn’t feel special. It came across like I was watching weekly WWE programming. And what was up with all of the pre-match attacks? They were super repetitive and most of them didn’t serve a purpose.

SCORE: 4.5





I love the Skydome. It looked great for WrestleMania VI, the Raw that was held there in 1999, and for this event. There’s just something about it that has always landed it near the top when I think about the best domes for wrestling. The stage was fine though I felt it lacked creativity. It mostly looked like a bunch of scaffolds put together. The year prior and what they come up with the following proved they could’ve done more. The commentary team was fine and I want to praise the video package work. With better technology comes stronger work in that department.

SCORE: 8.0





This is a show that didn’t suffer from many issues in terms of pacing and flow. It also didn’t excel here. Other than the Tag Team Title match, nothing overstays its welcome. The match order makes decent sense, though it would’ve been ideal to put something important early in the card as most of those suffered from the problem of not feeling special. All in all, this show doesn’t feel like it drags but it also isn’t that easy of a watch. We’ll put the score in the middle.

SCORE: 5.0





Instead of giving us a rendition of the awesome “O, Canada,” they opted to go with a live performance from Saliva. Strange choice. They performed more than once, as did Drowning Pool. Thankfully, these were done in a way that didn’t feel out of place. They were used to play a performer out or to accompany a video package. A lot of the backstage interviews were pretty solid. Hogan turning on the nWo and helping The Rock was great and the fans ate it up. The highlight in this area revolved around the Hardcore Championship. Having the title change hands throughout the show was a blast. Mighty Molly beating Hurricane, complete with superhero sound effects, and Christian beating Molly were both excellent.

SCORE: 8.0





This show has plenty of fun moments and looks pretty great. They nailed things in terms of presentation and entertainment. It had the elements of a show that could have been special. The problem was that the card was such a strange one. Only Rock/Hogan felt special and everything else came across as unimportant or lackluster. That’s a shame because it is sandwiched in between two of the better Manias in history from what I can recall.

TOTAL: 43.5/70


WrestleMania Rankings
1. WrestleMania X-Seven – 61/70
2. WrestleMania III – 55/70
3. WrestleMania X – 52/70
4. WrestleMania VIII – 50.5/70
5. WrestleMania I – 50/70
6. WrestleMania XII – 48.5/70
7. WrestleMania VII – 46/70
8. WrestleMania XIV – 46/70
9. WrestleMania VI – 44/70
10. WrestleMania X8 – 43.5/70
11. WrestleMania 2000 – 39.5/70
12. WrestleMania V – 39/70
13. WrestleMania 13 – 37/70
14. WrestleMania XV – 35/70
15. WrestleMania IV – 32/70
16. WrestleMania XI – 31.5/70
17. WrestleMania IX – 31.5/70
18. WrestleMania II – 29/70

article topics :

Wrestlemania 18, Kevin Pantoja